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2 area schools rated unacceptable

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The Ellis County Press

AUSTIN – Two area scho-ols, along with their districts were rated academically unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency.

Midlothian and Lancaster Independent School Districts each received the lowest ranking possible , academically unacceptable.

With nine schools in MISD, their other campuses mostly ranked the highest score possible, exemplary.

Others were given the below rankings:

MISD’s Frank Seale Middle School received academically acceptable and Walnut Grove Middle School was recognized.

LISD’s campuses were all recognized with the exception to Lancaster Elementary and Lancaster High School whom ranked academically acceptable.

By those districts just having the one school each with an unacceptable rating this causes the entire district as a whole to be unacceptable according to TEA standards.

According to Jana Hawthorne, public relations director for MISD, their district is already appealing the proposed decision because the rating is based on outdated and inaccurate information.

The TEA has acknowledged in a letter to MISD that it is aware the data used to make the determination about Midlothian High School does not include the school district’s most current data, but says the law does not allow it to correct the problem until after the ratings are announced.

"The academic measurements show that our district, teachers and our diverse student body are performing exceptionally well because of their hard work and dedication as well as parent and community involvement in our schools," said MISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy.

"Midlothian ISD was rated exemplary in 22 out of 25 academic measurements. Our students are receiving an outstanding education. Were it not for the outdated statistics, Midlothian ISD would be ‘Academically Acceptable’ under the state accountability standards."

The TEA and Texas Legislature have both acknowledged problems with the statistical analysis used in the current rating system and the State Legislature has already enacted changes to correct the problem in the future.

The data discrepancy comes in one statistic used to determine the completion rate for economically disadvantaged students.

Updated information that was not utilized shows the high school exceeded state requirements but under the current process, the TEA could not consider these more accurate statistics.

"While we appreciate the TEA’s cooperation and the legislature’s willingness to fix the system, it is unfair to our students, faculty and the community at large to publish information that is not accurate," said Kennedy.

A successful appeal will result in a final academically acceptable for both Midlothian High School and Midlothian ISD.

In a statement issued by LISD they reported the district plans to appeal their rating before the Aug.14 deadline.

Lancaster Middle School did not meet the acceptable standard under the annual dropout rate for grades seven and eight.

The 2009 annual dropout rate acceptable standard is 2.0 percent and is based on 2007-2008 data. The Lancaster ISD dropout rate for 07-08 is 2.1 percent for grades seven and eight.

This is the first year the Dropout Rate Indicator is a determining factor that impacts the middle school and the district state accountability rating.

The outcome of all appeals will be reflected in the ratings update scheduled for late October of this year.

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