WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) – The Wichita Falls ISD School Board received an academic update for Southern Hills Elementary and Kirby Middle School on Tuesday.
Both have seen improvements in the classroom, but still need to see more to avoid repercussions.
Southern Hills Elementary is in its first year of Required Improvement (IR) status. All of this is based on the results of the STARR tests, which determine grades each year for each campus statewide.
Southern Hills has five years to get out of IR status, but the hope for the district is that it won’t take all five years to do so.
The update provided was the progress the school saw this past semester. The good news is that math and reading scores have gone up, but Wichita Falls ISD superintendent Dr. Donny Lee said they will need to continue to see progress.
“All the data shows that if we don’t get them read at a second grade level by then, then we’re going to have a lot of trouble moving forward,” Lee said. “The data indicates that we are on track with our literacy program, so we are happy to see where Southern Hills is and they are making good projections going out of IR state.”
Lee said the additional help offered within the classroom is paying off, but trying to achieve a goal in a short amount of time is difficult.
Speaking of goals in a short amount of time, if scores don’t improve across the board at Kirby Middle School, the school could be shut down.
LIGHT: The future of Kirby Middle School part 1
The board has seen progress in Kirby during the classroom practice test this fall, but Lee said it’s not enough. Should they stay down this path, projections suggest that the STARR test scores students take in May won’t be high enough to keep Kirby open.
Kirby is in his fifth and final year of IR status, which means this year is all or nothing. Kirby saw big improvements for math and reading in seventh grade, but sixth and eighth graders struggled, leaving Dr. Lee was concerned about the STARR tests coming up in about three months.
“They will have to be collected,” Lee said. “That’s the honest answer. Seventh grade looks fine, we’re happy about it. The eighth grade is very alarming. If we were to take the test this week, my projection would be that we wouldn’t get out of IR status based on what I see in 8th grade. He’s way below in reading, way below in math. Sixth grade isn’t where it should be. Thank goodness we still have February to April to pretty much fill very large gaps in a short amount of time.
Lee said this has been a challenging process because in some cases students are a grade or two below what their reading and math skills should be.
Whether or not Kirby’s will stay open will be determined by the STARR test in reading and math in May. The district will receive the results in late August, and if the scores aren’t good enough, the TEA will choose one of two options: Shut down Kirby or keep it open and replace the entire board of directors.
In either case, the district would have a one-year planning period following the TEA’s decision.