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Texas Failure Rate Up In ‘No Child Left Behind’

AUSTIN (AP) – The number of Texas schools at the most advanced level of failing federal improvement standards increased tenfold over last year, the Texas Education Agency reported Tuesday.

A total of 21 campuses reached “Stage 5” status in the federal School Improvement Program in 2008 after just two were categorized that way a year ago. Such schools must immediately begin implementing restructuring plans that can include replacing most of the staff and becoming a charter school.

The state also saw a drop in the number of schools that met the “adequate yearly progress” standards required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Signed by President Bush in 2001, the law aims for all students to be proficient in English and math by 2013-14.

This year, 75 percent of the state’s 8,195 campuses met the progress standards, a drop from 80 percent last year.

State Education Commissioner Robert Scott attributed part of the drop to new tests that led to districts “significantly increasing the number of students with disabilities assessed on grade level.”

“However, it will take districts some time to fully address the increasing expectations of these new state assessments for students with disabilities,” Scott said in a statement, referring to a group that in large part has been exempted from testing in the past.

To meet progress standards, schools had to test at least 95 percent of their students in third through eighth grades and 10th grade. At least 60 percent had to pass the English/reading exam,and 50 percent had to pass the math test. High schools or districts were required to have graduation rates of 70 percent or better in 2007.

The state had 128 schools that either failed one or more of the requirements four consecutive years or failed to show improvement in the first year of a restructuring plan. That’s nearly twice as many as the 70 such schools from last year.

Six Dallas high schools were in “Stage 5” failure, along with two high schools each in Austin and El Paso. There were six charter schools in that mix.

Overall, 357 campuses were somewhere in the five stages of the School Improvement Program, an increase of 28 percent from 278 a year ago. All must give students the option of transferring.

On the Net:

Texas Education Agency “Adequate Yearly Progress” Report,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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