Updated: Friday, 31 Jul 2009, 5:12 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 31 Jul 2009, 4:59 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - High schools on the Austin Independent School District's East Side continue to fail to meet the Texas Education Agency's expectations, with Reagan, Travis, Eastside Memorial and the LBJ high school's non-magnet campus all drawing the state's lowest rating this year.
Pearce Middle School also drew the state's lowest rating, slating it for closure this year if AISD cannot present an acceptable repurposing plan. The Austin Independent School District has posted a repurposing plan for Pearce on Friday and will hold a special meeting on Monday night to review it one last time before submitting it to Education Commissioner Robert Scott.
Asked about the Pearce plan, Scott said the issue was not Pearce. It was the quality of the schools on Austin's East Side. Statistics show a student at Pearce only had a 50-50 chance of graduating high school, Scott said.
"We really need to be talking about the East Side and take this opportunity to revitalize some of the schools," Scott said. "That means changing the culture and the expectations. Obviously, I'm looking for a plan for Pearce, but my focus is on the East Side."
A total of 42 schools are located east of Interstate 35. Every elementary school east of the freeway is rated Acceptable, and some are rated Recognized and Exemplary. By the time students hit middle school, only two of the East Side's six middle schools are Acceptable. Martin, Gus Garcia, Pearce and Mendez are Academically Unacceptable. Every middle school on the West Side is Acceptable, with the exception of Lamar.
By the time students hit high school, the only school on the East Side that is Acceptable or higher is the Language Arts and Science Academy, which was rated Exemplary. East Side Memorial, Reagan, the non-magnet LBJ High were Academically Unacceptable, along with Travis High School, which sits just west of Interstate 35 .
Specifically, Scott suggested AISD use the bonds it receives under the federal stimulus package to upgrade East Side facilities. Asked about his specific Pearce concerns, he noted the high turnover of science teachers at Pearce and suggested the district's strategic compensation program should target East Side schools.
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen released her own statement, saying that 99 campuses, or 87 percent of the schools, had met the state's increasing accountability standards. Among those campuses, 54 schools earned Exemplary or Recognized ratings. Among high schools, only the LASA High School earned a rating higher than acceptable.
Scott also expressed his raised concern for East Side Memorial High School at the Johnston campus, saying a year after mandatory closure and repurposing, the school still failed to earn an acceptable rating. Pressed as to whether he might but an alternative operator on the Pearce campus, Scott said the agency did have an alternative manager that could take over the school if he was not satisfied with the repurposing plan.
A full list of AISD ratings can be found here.