By Bob Palmer
It’s that day parents dread.
Their oldest child begins school on Aug. 15.
You purchased the backpack, 12 #2 wooden pencils, four boxes of 24-count Crayola crayons, a ring binder, pencil box, four large boxes of facial tissues and the rest of the list published in Thursday’s Jimplecute.
You know exactly which new jeans Johnny will wear for his first day of class. He will get a fresh haircut next week and a new pair of Nike tennis shoes.
But what do you know about the school?
According to the Texas Education Agency you can expect your child will receive an education at Jefferson ISD that is comparable to most other schools in Texas.
TEA won’t begin issuing letter grades for each campus until next year. For the moment, districts are found to have “Met Standards” or “Did Not Meet Standards.”
With a target score of 60 for student achievement, JISD scored a 65.
In the category of student progress, the state expectation was 22 and JISD scored 30.
Jefferson also exceeded the target for closing performance gaps with a 36 rating. The goal was 28.
JISD showed strongest in postsecondary readiness with a 76 score. The target was 60.
Jefferson’s graduation rate helped boost its score.
The district’s 100 percent participation rate also contributed to a 79 percent score for system safeguards.
Recent STAAR test results, however, show JISD lagging behind the state average.
In the “approaches grade level or above” category, the state norm was 75 percent as opposed to Jefferson’s 65.
Thirty percent of Jefferson students met grade level in two or more subjects while the Texas average was 48 percent.
Only 10 percent of the students mastered the grade level test. Students across the state doubled that number.
Almost half of Jefferson High School and Junior High students met or exceeded progress.
Test results indicated challenges with mathematics, where only 25 percent met grade level. The average across the state is 48 percent.
In reading the JISD “met grade level” score was 39 percent. For writing the number was 29 percent, science 32 percent and social studies 34 percent.
The student population of Jefferson ISD faces socio-economic hurdles.
The TEA report shows 69.9 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged. JISD recently announced breakfast and lunch are now free for all students. The state average is 59 percent.
More than 10 percent of the students are enrolled in special education.
The ethnic breakdown of the student population is 54.4 percent white, 35.5 percent African American, 5.8 percent Hispanic.
JISD does boast smaller than state average class sizes, where English classes have 12 students, foreign language classes have 18, math 12, science 13 and social studies 14.
The mobility rate is lower than the state average at 18 percent.
Jefferson ISD spends $10,143 per student against a state average of $9,373. Instructional expense is $5,375 per student in Jefferson. Districts around the state spend $5,317.
A conscientious parent might conclude after studying all the reports and data that Jefferson is an average Texas school district with some pluses and some minuses and their child has an opportunity for a good public-school education.
That parent might want to do two things more. In addition to attending parent-teacher night and meeting their child’s teacher and principal, circle a date on the calendar about 30 days after school starts. Plan to have lunch with your child and his new friends in the cafeteria.
You will both enjoy it.
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