Last week the Texas Education Agency released the list of Public Education Grant (PEG) Schools/Districts. White Oak High School was included on that list as an “Academically Unacceptable” campus for 2013. This label activates a number of required actions by White Oak ISD to inform our stakeholders of the current rating and legal options that are available for consideration. That notification and list of actions will be released very soon.
How did White Oak High School merit this designation?
The short answer to this question is, we did not merit and/or receive this rating designation. The high school and the district received a rating of “Improvement Required” last fall and much was said and written to educate our stakeholders about that process.
White Oak High School is on the PEG list because TEA did not see the need to distinguish between the new Improvement Required rating and the old Academically Unacceptable ranking. There is no supporting evidence that any of our campuses are lacking in academic performance and/or professional educator expectations.
We were down graded, for lack of a better term, due to a high number of students that graduated in 2012 on the minimum plan (52%). One year after this class graduated, TEA adopted a new accountability standard that determined the Class of 2012 was not College & Career ready. It should be pointed out, once again, that the minimum plan was and is an approved graduation plan. Adopted by the State Board of Education and listed as an accepted option in Texas Education Code 74.61. This arbitrary decision was made despite the following:
• 74.1% of the Class of 2012 is enrolled in post-secondary education courses at this time
• Our seniors score above the state average on SAT and ACT college entrance exams
• Our students far surpassed the state average on all TEA mandated assessments at all grade levels, especially High School
• Some of our “minimum graduates” received full and partial scholarships to four year universities on the merit of their entrance exam scores, assessment scores and the successful experiences they had in high school
• A side note to the academic aptitude of the Class of 2012 is they brought home UIL State Championships in Over all Academics and Journalism
• The Class of 2012 brought home the overall UIL Champions Lone Star Cup for the first time in the history of White Oak ISD
• It is also worth pointing our that our Boys Basketball Team won the first of two State Titles in 2012
To Commissioner Williams and the TEA staff, this is what they have determined to be an academically unacceptable school. TEA feels that this level of performance requires WOISD to be placed in the school improvement model and spend over $40,000 in unbudgeted expense to hire an outside consultant and require our leadership team to attend extensive training sessions to improve our poor performance.
Commissioner Williams and TEA staff declined to consider any of this information in the appeal we sent last fall and the rating of Improvement Required remains in place for White Oak ISD. We have strategies in place to remove us from this list but we are required to stay in school improvement for a minimum of two years. Our leadership team, faculty and staff are fully prepared to deal with the implications of this rating. However, the idea that anyone would consider White Oak High School “Academically Unacceptable” is completely unacceptable to me, as Superintendent, to the Board of Trustees and to all stakeholders in White Oak! I do not want anyone to think any of us are willing to just accept this kind of arbitrary, blanket assessment.
The Faculty, Staff and Leadership Team of White Oak ISD want to assure this community that the safety and academic success of our students has been, is and always will be our highest priority. As educators, we are committed to meeting the individual needs of our students. I believe that I can speak on behalf of the entire team that provides for the safety and instruction of your students when I say; thank you for allowing us to share in the lives and successes of all the students that attend White Oak ISD.
We Are White Oak!
Michael Gilbert, Superintendent
White Oak ISD