East Texas school districts are making adjustments to their curriculum and leadership roles, just weeks before the Fall semester begins. The changes come after dozens of districts and hundreds of campuses failed to meet Federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards.
Friday afternoon, several teachers were preparing their course work, focusing on ways to improve their scores. Jefferson Independent School District failed to meet the AYP standards for the third year in a row.
"We did not meet the standards, clear across the board especially in math and reading," said Tami Whitington, the English Department Chair at Jefferson High School. "So, we're backing up. We're re-thinking what we need to do and we're looking at the needs of our children. We're putting plans into place to address those weak areas."
But, Jefferson is not alone. Dozens of East Texas school districts, including, Marshall, Carthage, Waskom and Center, also missed the AYP standards. The performance grades come soon after the implementation of the new, more rigorous end-of-course exam and STAAR test in the state. And, many educators are becoming frustrated with the ever-changing standards.
"It really bothers me," said Whitington. "Let's look at what education is meant there for. It's not about bringing every child up to the same level, it's about meeting the best level for what that child is capable of doing and motivating them to be the very best that they can."
Jefferson Superintendent, Sharon Ross says the standards at times can be more distracting than helpful. She says the fact that there are different standards on the state and federal level, make it difficult to adjust to both accordingly.
"We understand accountability," said Ross. "We've seen the success so we're not fighting against that. We know it needs to be there. We just want some commonality."
Ross says while the multiple standards can be confusing, it's the bar the districts must reach. And, she says that's exactly what they plan to do.
"Our expectations are high, so this time next year, I hope to be telling you, that we met AYP at every campus and at the district level."
Jefferson had several options for corrective action for not meeting the AYP. Officials say they have chosen to implement new leadership, hiring new principals for both the elementary and junior high schools. Meanwhile, the Marshall district plans to address how it will move forward at its school board meeting on Monday.