Tyler ISD high schools listed as academically unacceptable - FOX Carolina 21

Tyler ISD high schools listed as academically unacceptable

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John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high schools are on the Public Education Grant list because of their academically unacceptable ratings for the 2010-2011 school year.

No state accountability ratings were issued in the 2011-2012 school year, because TEA officials said the new STAAR exam has forced them redesign their entire accountability system. 

Debbie Ratcliffe is the Director of Media Relations for the TEA and explained what caused the academically unacceptable ratings for both high schools.

"For Robert E. Lee it was the math performance for African American students and economically disadvantaged students. For John Tyler, it was math performance for African American students," Ratcliffe said. 

Under the PEG interdistrict transfer provision, parents have the right to transfer their students if they are enrolled in a district that is on the list. 

This means that John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high school students can apply to another district, however, there is no guarantee the district will accept them. 

The Texas Education Code states, "A school district, chosen by a student's parents under this statue is entitled to accept or reject the application for the student to attend school in that district but may not use criteria that discriminate on the basis of a student's race, ethnicity, academic achievement, athletic abilities, language proficiency, sex, or socioeconomic status."

Ratcliffe said an example of a valid reason to reject an application under this code would be that the school is at capacity. 

"There's a pretty low usage of this program around the state, frankly. I wouldn't be too surprised if they had very few students that actually transferred," Ratcliffe said.

The Texas Education code explains that for interdistrict transfers, the district educating the child receives an additional weight of 0.1; supplemental funding if costs exceed state aid benefit; limited to net students educated on PEG. 

There are conditions in which the student eligibility to transfer does expire. For example, if the campus is removed from the PEG list, the student can no longer transfer under the code.

There are also restrictions regarding interdistrict transfers. A student may only transfer from a PEG school to a non-PEG school. The school district in which the student resides is not responsible for providing transportation free of charge from the PEG-listed school to the new school. 

Ratcliffe said Tyler ISD has until February 1 to notify parents that both high schools are on the list and their students to have the right to apply to transfer. 

On Friday, Tyler ISD said they are preparing the letters to send out to parents notifying them of the Public Education Grant Program and how to obtain further information. 

Ratcliffe advises Tyler ISD take a more in depth look at math instruction and do not just focus on the high school.

"It may not just be at the high school because it's not likely that these kids were math whizzes in middle school and suddenly collapsed in high school. They may need to look at the whole math instruction from elementary school on up," Ratcliffe explained. 

Ratcliffe also has advice for parents of students attending the Tyler ISD high schools named on the list. 

"Look at your own child's performance and determine if you're happy with the quality of the school. There are only two categories where these two schools are under performing, you're child may not be in one of those categories,"Ratcliffe said.   

Ratcliffe said it is encouraging because there were 456 schools on the list this year, down from 556 the previous year.

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