Trustees hear report of student performance, post-graduation activity, school safety

By SHELLY WILKISON

While much of the information presented to school trustees Monday regarding the academic performance of Liberty Hill students in 2012-2013 was already known, statistics about post-graduation activities and student discipline — subjects not as frequently shared — were also addressed.

School districts are required annually to report to the public information about student performance and demographics, district finances, the qualifications of its teachers, and certain disciplinary actions that are used to determine the overall safety of individual campuses.  In previous years, the report has been referred to as the Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS), but for 2012-2013, it is the Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR). The current TAPR is posted on the school district’s website, www.libertyhill.txed.net.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, the Liberty Hill ISD  earned a “Met Standard” rating from the state, which is the highest ranking a district can earn under the current accountability system.

TAPR compared Liberty Hill student performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) to the state and region, and as has been previously reported, in most cases Liberty Hill students exceeded most passing rates. Last year was the second year of the two-year phase-in of the new exam, which replaced TAKS.

At the high school level, the report showed local students had a lower completion rate than the region and state in advanced courses and dual college enrollment.   In 2011-2012, the district had a completion rate of 19.5 percent compared to 31.3 percent in Region 13 and 30.6 percent statewide. The  year before, the rate was lower at 18.9 percent.

LHISD Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun told trustees that larger schools with more resources are able to offer students more advanced classes.

LHISD is currently served by Austin Community College, which offers college credit for some advanced courses taught by ACC instructors. In recent years, the college has directed more teaching resources to school districts within its taxing district and others that “show academic need,” Mrs. Braun said.

LHISD is not within the taxing jurisdiction of ACC.

“We have enough students to make classes, but ACC has extended itself so much (in other school districts) that it’s hard to find teachers (to come to Liberty Hill),” she said, adding that a Master’s Degree is required to teach college-level courses. “ACC is going to Taylor, Manor, Del Valle — districts that have trouble getting kids to stay in school.”

Mrs. Braun said there are currently two English IV classes taught by ACC and students have requested Government/Economics, but the second semester of Economics was cancelled because no ACC instructor was available. Students were directed into a regular high school Economics class.

“We’re just not a priority (to ACC),” added Superintendent Rob Hart.

TAPR showed that a smaller percentage of Liberty Hill students from the Class of 2012 took the SAT than in Region 13 — 69.4 percent from LHISD were tested compared to 72.3 percent in Region 13. However, LHISD did exceed the state average of 66.9 percent.

Mrs. Braun said that while fewer may have taken the college entrance exam, LHISD students exceeded the average passing scores in the region and state on both the SAT and ACT. The average Liberty Hill SAT score from the 2012 graduating class was 1507 compared to 1501 in Region 13 and 1422 in the state.

Of the 177 Liberty Hill graduates from the Class of 2011, 42 were enrolled in a four-year public university in fiscal 2012. The report shows in the first year of college, 10 of those had a GPA of 3.0-3.49, and 10 had a GPA of over 3.5. Nine of them had a GPA of under 2.0 and 12 had a GPA of 2.0-2.99.

From the same class, 65 were enrolled in two-year public colleges with 22 earning a GPA the first year of under 2.0; 22 between 2.0-2.99 and 15 with a GPA of 3.0 and higher.

The report showed nine enrolled in independent colleges and universities where GPA information was not available, and 59 students were not found.

In the area of student demographics, Mrs. Braun made note that almost 30 percent of the student population in 2012-2013 were considered economically disadvantaged and qualified for free or reduced price meals. Statewide, the rate was just over 60 percent.

In the Class of 2012, 80.6 percent were White, 12.9 percent Hispanic, 3.5 percent were two or more races, 1.2 percent were African American and 1.2 percent were Asian. Of the 2012 graduates, 82.4 percent graduated under the Recommended High School Program and 17.6 percent from the Minimum High School Program — percentages that were about average with the state.

Regarding teacher qualification, the 2012-2013 report showed the highest degree to be a Bachelor’s Degree for 86 percent of Liberty Hill teachers with 13 percent holding a Master’s Degree.

The average number of years of teaching experience was 12.4 compared to 11.5 statewide. The report showed 39.2 percent of local teachers had 11-20 years of experience and 21.8 percent of Liberty Hill’s 192 teachers had one to five years of experience.

Mrs. Braun noted that the report showed Liberty Hill salaries well below the state average in 2012-2013. However, the district provided a pay increase for the current fiscal year.

The turnover rate for Liberty Hill teachers was 8.6 percent compared to 15.3 percent statewide, the report showed.

A Report of Violent and Criminal Incidents, which is part of the TAPR for 2012-2013 showed there were 766 incidents.

Mrs. Braun explained that the incidents were counted if a student missed part of a class day, regardless of punishment or infraction.

Of the total number of incidents, 703 were violations of the Code of Conduct, she said. Those violations varied from “horseplay, disrespect, unprepared for class, inappropriate touching, dress code violations. Those were the minor ones,” she said.

The district reported two aggravated assaults. Mrs. Braun explained that one incident occurred in the boys restroom at the high school where a student threatened another student with a knife. Police were called and the student was sent to Williamson County Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP).

The other aggravated assault, which occurred off campus and was handled by Williamson County law enforcement, also involved a student with a knife. That student was also placed at JJAEP, she said.

The district reported nine incidents of Possession of a Controlled Substance, two incidents of Possession of Alcoholic Beverage, five incidents of cigarette or tobacco products, one incident of lewdness, and five incidents of truancy.

TAPR also showed results of Fitness Gram, a measure of student fitness in grades 3-12. While the report showed results at the local level, there were no comparisons to regional or state fitness rates.

Although Monday’s presentation was posted as an item for public questions and comments, no one from the audience addressed the Board. At the time of the discussion only district employees and The Independent were in attendance.

In other business Monday, the Board approved Joint Election Agreements with the City of Liberty Hill and Williamson County for the upcoming May elections.

Following a 30-minute executive session, the Board unanimously approved the employment of Andrew Anker as an assistant band director, Theresa Scallen as a DAEP teacher, and Elyse Tarlton as Director of Special Education.

The Board also heard reports from high school foreign language teachers who are organizing trips abroad this summer for students of Spanish and American Sign Language.

Trustees also received letters and gifts of appreciation from students in conjunction with School Board Appreciation Month.

Trustee Leslye Pogue was not present Monday.