TEA News Releases Online
March 13, 2012
Districts and campuses recognized for exceptional use of High School Allotment funds
AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Robert Scott recognized four school districts and four high school campuses for offering exceptional high school completion and college readiness programs implemented with High School Allotment funds.
The High School Allotment, a $320 million annual fund created by the Texas Legislature in 2006, provides every Texas school district with $275 per student in grades 9-12 to improve high school graduation and college readiness rates.
For the fourth year, the Texas Education Agency is recognizing districts or schools that used these funds to implement exceptional programs or strategies in the following areas:
- Preparing students for college readiness;
- Increasing graduation rates;
- Improving curriculum alignment or preparing students for successful transition from middle school to high school or from high school to college; and
- Implementing innovative high school completion and success programs or strategies.
School districts were invited to self-nominate their programs for recognition for exceptional use of the allotment funds. The following nominees were selected as examples of exceptional use of the allotment:
- Del Valle High School in the Del Valle Independent School District and Sunnyvale High School in Sunnyvale ISD are recognized for strategies used in preparing students for college readiness.
- Conroe ISD is recognized for its efforts to increase graduation rates.
- Glen Rose ISD and Port Aransas ISD are recognized for improving curriculum alignment and preparing students for successful transitions from high school to college.
- Azle High School in Azle ISD, Lewisville ISD, and Lubbock-Cooper High School in Lubbock Cooper ISD are recognized for the implementation of innovative high school completion and success programs and strategies.
Preparing Students for College Readiness
Del Valle High School utilizes the High School Allotment funds to provide programs for its students that create a college-going culture and prepares students for higher education. The campus implements a variety unique special programs that support college readiness, such as the Senior Project in which every 12th grade student is required to complete a senior project. This is a year-long rigorous research writing project on a student selected topic and requires a formal presentation to a panel. At the school’s GO Center, students explore career options, register for the ACT and SAT tests, investigate and explore colleges, fill out college applications, research and apply for scholarships and receive help with essay and resume writing under the supervision of the college and career counselor and trained “G-Force” network of volunteers and peer educators. Partnerships with Austin Community College (ACC) include a part-time outreach advisor housed within the GO Center. Additionally, all students complete a four-year college and career plan with counselors. In order to develop greater commitment to the four-year plans, all 10th grade students visit college campuses during their spring semester. The campus also hosts a school-wide “Hip Hop to College Fair” that is open to parents, students and family members.
According to the 2010 campus Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) report, Del Valle High School showed improvement in the four year completion rate with a 0.9 percent increase of graduates as compared to the Class of 2008. College Readiness Scores for 2009-2010 seniors were 14 percent higher than in the 2008-2009 school year. In 2009-2010, 290 students enrolled in the ACC Early College Start program. This is a 20 percent increase over the previous year and a significant growth over the 54 students enrolled in the 2005-2006 school year.
Sunnyvale High School in Dallas County assists students and families in navigating the transition from high school to college. Allotment funds are utilized for college entrance exams; preparation seminars; registration fees for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests; dual credit tuition and textbooks; and an elective course focusing on College Readiness/Transition.
All 11th and 12th grade students access the College Readiness/Transition program through the Naviance software. Via this software, students receive guidance on completion of the common application, gain access to information on specific schools, track their ACT/SAT scores, correspond with selected higher education institutions, and are able to submit their completed applications.
In the 2009-2010 school year, 97 percent of seniors were active users of the Naviance system; 95 percent of seniors took ACT and/or SAT; 61 percent of the juniors and seniors were enrolled in at least one dual-credit course; and 97 percent of sophomores and juniors registered for the PSAT.
For the Class of 2010, student ACT scores improved two to three points following a test preparation seminar, and students are earning an average of nine hours of college credit prior to graduating from high school. Currently, 74 percent of students completed the college application process, and 45 percent have received acceptance letters.
Increasing Graduation Rates
Conroe ISD uses the High School Allotment funds to increase graduation rates by implementing a program titled “Students Together Achieving Results” (STAR). Ninth-grade students are identified as high risk and high need for services if they will be the first generation of their family to graduate high school or college; or are economically disadvantaged. Students are selected for participation in the program after being assessed for: high absenteeism, discipline referrals, Algebra I failure, and multiple course failures. STAR program counselors work with identified students to provide academic support, school success monitoring, college and career goal setting, mentoring and character development support. Groups of STAR students participate in community service projects, college visits, career fairs and team building activities. A STAR project operates with 30 to 40 students per program at each of the district’s six high schools. Conroe ISD designed the project specifically to address gaps in completion rates that existed between demographic groups.
Since the start of the program, Conroe ISD graduation rates have increased among all groups: African-American students showed an 8.5 percent increase, Hispanics a 9.4 percent increase and economically disadvantaged students a 12.3 percent increase. Conroe ISD now has a 97.7 percent graduation rate overall, a 95.5 percent rate for African-American students, a 97.5 percent rate for Hispanic students and a 96.3 percent rate for economically disadvantaged students.
Improving Curriculum Alignment or Preparing Students for Successful Transition from Middle School to High School or from High School to College
Glen Rose ISD has utilized the High School Allotment funds to create a college-going culture within the district and campuses and have expanded participation in dual credit courses. Glen Rose High School currently offers more than 60 hours of dual credit courses through their partnership with Hill College. Dual credit courses may be taken by students for core content classes, physical education and technical training courses. Glen Rose ISD works with students and their parents to provide funding to take dual credit courses on the high school campus, via regular classroom classes, or distance learning. The district pays for four hours college tuition per semester for juniors and qualified sophomores, and six hours college tuition per semester for seniors. Additionally, the district will pay six hours college tuition per semester for students meeting the requirements of the free or reduced lunch program who are classified as economically disadvantaged. The district will also provide textbooks for core content dual class courses.
Currently, 54 percent of students in the 11th and 12th grades are taking at least one dual credit academic or Career Technical Education (CTE) course. Most students take between two and three courses per semester, and very few drop courses or fail. State statistics show Glen Rose ISD has a completion rate of 96.4 percent. Further, 59 percent of students enroll in a two year public college or four- year university within a year of graduation from Glen Rose High School.
Port Aransas ISD utilized High School Allotment funds for several initiatives: tuition/fee reimbursement and materials/textbooks for students taking dual credit courses; a credit recovery program; an in-school and after-school tutoring program for middle schools; a summer credit recover program for high school students; and opportunities for high school student to participate in local college fairs.
Approximately 47.8 percent of students at Port Aransas High School and 50 percent of students at Brundrett Middle School have benefitted from the allotment funds. Observable growth in levels of individual student achievement throughout the year is seen through coursework, grades, and benchmark assessments. Tutoring/coaching lists are revised every six weeks or on an as needed basis to support students who need targeted interventions. From 2009-2010 to this year, the number of students taking dual credit courses has more than doubled and the completion rate for the Class of 2010 was 100 percent.
Implementing Innovative High School Completion and Success Programs or Strategies
Azle High School has used High School Allotment funds to develop and operate “The Hornet Academy”. Within the program, students access Odysseyware, a program that offers credit recovery/individual study for students who have previously dropped out of school.
This was developed as an effort to offer an alternative/innovative way for students who dropped out of school to complete their high school education. These students often have jobs or family obligations that present challenges to completing their education during the regular school day. Students are selected for participation in the program based on risk factors such as: age, job attainment and job training needs, pregnant or parenting or dropout status within the past two years. There have been 150 students who have enrolled in the Hornet Academy since the doors opened in April of 2009. Thirty-eight students or 25 percent graduated in the first year.
Lewisville ISD has focused High School Allotment investments on implementing innovative programs designed to increase high school completion and success, increase college readiness, and foster a college-going culture. These three high priority goals were based on needs assessment data indicating explosive growth, primarily in diverse student groups between 2000 and 2008; accompanied by increasing gaps among student groups in percentages meeting Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) standards, showing college readiness, and dropping out of school.
To address identified issues, Lewisville ISD implemented multiple strategies. These include: credit recovery and accelerated credit programs on eight campuses; TAKS tutoring in science and math; expanded before school, after-school, and summer-school tutoring to increase course and TAKS success; late buses to transport students home after tutorials; College Board partnerships using PSAT and Advanced Placement assessment data to better recruit participants to advanced courses; Gizmos – an online, modular, interactive simulations in math and science for teachers and students in grades 3-12; and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) delivered on four campuses
As part of the effort to help students recover lost course credit, 2,388 Lewisville ISD students participated in the summer credit recovery program in the 2009-2010 school year with 957 individual students recovering credit. The opportunity to receive accelerated credit was also provided with 309 participating students and 220 accelerated credits earned. Additionally, 2,065 students participated in TAKS tutoring programs last school year. Effectiveness of the tutoring program is indicated by the increase in students meeting standards. In science, 84 percent met standards in the 2007-08 school year, and 91 percent in 2009-10. Math also showed an increase from 87 percent in 2007-08 to 93 percent in 2009-10. Progressive and sustained improvement is evident in the all aggregate scores of 2009-10. Overall, from 2007 to 2010, every student subgroup has significantly improved or sustained performance.
Lubbock-Cooper High School uses High School Allotment funds to operate a Senior Seminar with all 12th graders as a requirement for graduation. This is a regularly scheduled, year-long class. In this class, students learn to fill out college admission forms, financial aid forms, scholarship applications, write a resume, visit with college recruiters, prepare and take the ACT/SAT and complete a Senior Project. The Senior Project is a year-long project that consists of an issues-based research paper, a personal interview, a portfolio, a product produced under the direction of a professional mentor, and an oral presentation. The student must document spending a minimum of 15 hours working with a mentor on their product. An extensive portfolio is designed and in May each student makes a 10 minute oral presentation to their faculty committee and community members followed by a question and answer period. Of the current graduating class, 88.6 percent have applied to college.