Millsap Elementary School saw a 20-point increase in its state accountability score this year.
The scores are based on standardized test — known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness — performance and graduation rates, and the ratings examine student achievement and progress, closing the achievement gap and postsecondary readiness, according to Texas Education Agency’s website. The state can order interventions for schools or districts that struggle with performance.
In Parker County, districts earned a mix of As and Bs. Millsap ISD maintained a B, increasing their score from an 80 to an 89 compared to last year’s score.
Last year was the first in which districts were graded on an A-F scale. This year, campuses were also rated on an A-F scale.
Millsap Elementary School, which scored a 79, saw the largest increase in scores compared to MISD’s other schools. Millsap High School scored an 85, up from a previous 80, and Millsap Middle School scored an 82, down from 84.
Grades 3-5 were tested in math, reading and writing, and science at the elementary level. Passing scores are divided into categories based on whether the student approached, met or mastered the grade-level material. Millsap Elementary saw increases across the board in approaches, meets and masters categories, Assistant Superintendent Edie Martin said.
“That is substantial improvement and across the board which makes us very proud because we’re just improving our systems and improving our opportunities for student learning,” Martin said.
Based on scores from the 2017-18 year, Millsap Elementary was marked as “improvement required” by the state and “comprehensive support,” a federal identification that focuses on the “closing the gaps” score. Martin said the state accountability system had changed at the time to focus more on higher-level performance and growth. Identification in the school improvement system means reporting to the state.
Millsap Elementary no longer has the “improvement required” designation and was not re-identified as “comprehensive support,” through the latter is a two-year identification, Martin said.
“The bottom line is we saw some gaps in the things our students were learning, and although TEA was right by our side, we took a lot of initiative to very proactively resolve those issues because our kids deserve better than that, so we didn’t focus on the sanctions, we focused on improvement,” Martin said.
To improve, Millsap Elementary staff set their sights on helping all students improve a full year while valuing the whole child, Martin said.
“They were committed to taking care of the child holistically while they academically grew them a year,” Martin said. “Performance is one thing, but we really focused on growth. We wanted our high-achievers to grow a full year and continue achieving, and we wanted our students that struggled in some areas to also grow a full year. We did not want them to get farther behind; we wanted them to grow a full year academically or beyond a full year.”
The elementary partnered with Education Service Center Region 11 for content coaches, which was extended to secondary campuses, as well as other resources for teachers, Martin said. Millsap Elementary also focused on utilizing technology, managing time-on-task, continuous improvement models and having an educational objective for the day.
Following last month’s school board meeting, Board President Dene Herbel praised Martin and staff for their efforts.
“I commended her [during the meeting], I said ‘I can’t believe you were able to do so much in one year,’ so I commended her and her staff to be able to take the elementary school — we were actually sanctioned by the state and being watched by the state — to be able to be released so quickly because of all of their hard work,” Herbel said.