To the editor:
In response to inaccurate information published in your September 16 newspaper regarding remarks I made at the September 9 State of the Schools luncheon, I offer this clarification. The column states that I, “simply didn’t give the complete picture...while I wouldn’t accuse Dr. Jenney of lying, I think a fair assessment would be that he was putting lipstick on...”
The editorial comments made by the publisher were primarily in reference to my statement, “We increased our district wide achievement indicators from 21 to the maximum of 25 — enough to have met the academic standards to be a Recognized district.” This is an accurate statement. It is exactly the same information which was printed by your paper, verbatim, in the August 5, 2009 edition of the “Fort Bend/Southwest Star.”
To officially be designated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as a Recognized district, there are other indicators in addition to the 25 academic indicators. These indicators are based on “high school completion rates” and “middle school dropout rates.” Let me repeat, Fort Bend ISD met all 25 academic TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) measures to be a Recognized district. Additionally, we met the state standards in dropout rates as well—contrary to publisher’s assertion—and student completion rates. However, the district rating remains “Academically Acceptable” due to exceeding the limit (150) on the number of “underreported” students.
Underreported students, which include students from all grade levels, are those who did not return to the district in the fall of 2008, and whose status could not be verified by the TEA. In most instances for example, these are students who moved out of the district and are attending school in another district or state. The TEA cap for underreported students is 150. This means a district, regardless of its enrollment, must have less than 150 underreported students to qualify for Recognized status. Fort Bend ISD had 357 underreported students. Even before we received our rating from TEA, we were able to locate many of those students, and now have reduced the number to 139 (under the 150 cap) that have not been located. Based on these efforts, we are appealing our district’s Academically Acceptable rating to the TEA, which was also reported in your paper on August 5, 2009 and we will know in October if our appeal has been approved. If the appeal is approved, we will then be designated as a Recognized district.
It is easy to misunderstand some of the language associated with the descriptions of the TEA accountability system criteria. However, suffice it to say that School Board members and most others understand we were not designated as Recognized due to exceeding the limit on the number of underreported students at the time the ratings were released by TEA.
Timothy R. Jenney
Dear Superintendent Jenney,
You can couch it in a much educationese as you know, but I still say you left the audience with the impression that FBISD is a RECOGNIZED district, while it isn’t. However, your neighbor to the west, which allowed President Obama’s speech, is a RECOGNIZED district.
While I didn’t exactly say you lied, I simply said you didn’t tell the whole truth. And the school board members sitting behind me, who heard the same speech I did, told me exactly what you have taken about 300 words to express. Fort Bend had too many drop out students, a situation I believe I mentioned the President was trying to correct.
If you would quit worrying so much about what the right wing Conservatives in your district might do, and worry more about good messages to the very students who are causing you to not reach your educational goals, the district would be better off.
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