Understanding Yellowstone’s TEA Rating

Despite significant student growth, Yellowstone College Prep receives “Improvement Required” for its first-year rating.

 01


An expected bump on the road to success.

Yellowstone anticipated this rating for our first year based on the way the rating formula works, and the way we launched our model and our mission.

For the first year of College Prep, we more than doubled our student population from 100 Yellowstone Academy students to 215 students in 5th through 8th grade. Since they came from a private school and had no previous state testing scores, these 100 Yellowstone Academy students were ineligible to be included in one of the key indicators (the “student growth” domain) that factors into the state’s ranking formula. This significantly limited the score we could hope to achieve and contributed to our overall lower rating.

 02


Ratings only tell a small part of a greater story.

Our scores show that the longer a student is with Yellowstone, generally, the better they perform.

Student data demonstrates that Yellowstone’s model does produce results. While less than half our students who were new to Yellowstone passed either the math or the reading state test, over 60% of students who had attended Yellowstone Academy previously earned a passing score, even though they had never taken the state test before this year.

By design, we grew very quickly our first year and remained focused on our mission to partner with families who have not had access to excellent educational opportunities. The majority of our YCP students were new last year, and our early benchmark testing showed that well over 50% of our middle school students needed extensive intervention in math and reading. Despite these odds, our students demonstrated incredible growth our first year and we also know the areas we still need to improve to raise our overall ranking.

 03


Our 2019-20 ratings will be different by design.

This will be a one year rating for Yellowstone and we are poised for greater success this coming year.

It is instructive to note that our first-year scores were generally comparable or better than most of the scores of our peer schools. These schools did not receive an improvement required rating because of their eligibility for the “student growth” domain. Of course, we will never be satisfied with just being comparable or incrementally better—we want our students to receive an exceptional education.

For this coming year, we have been very deliberate in our staffing model, strategic planning, and partnerships to ensure we stay laser focused on the performance goals that will contribute to success for all our students in 2019-20.

Ratings Only Tell a Small Part of a Greater Story

Our scores show that the longer a student is with us, generally, the better they perform. Our students demonstrated incredible growth our first year and we also know where we need to improve.

Students Made Significant Gains at Yellowstone

In almost every grade, our students made significant gains from their benchmark scores to their final state testing scores in both reading and math.

Graph showing growth from benchmark to final STAAR results in Math and Reading.

Students who stay at Yellowstone longer generally perform better.

Less than half our students who were new to Yellowstone passed either the math or the reading state test.

Comparatively, at least 60% of returning Yellowstone students who had never taken the state test before this year earned a passing score.

There was a much higher percentage of new students in 5th and 6th grade. In 7th and 8th grade, the majority of students had attended Yellowstone for at least 2 years. The longer a student is with us, they better they are prepared.

Summary

Students who have been in a Yellowstone school for two or more years tend to out-perform students who have newly arrived, and nearly all Yellowstone College Prep students demonstrated a great deal of growth over the 2018-19 academic year.

Together, this shows that the Yellowstone model is working. High quality instruction paired with a positive school culture and wrap-around support services is making a difference in our students’ lives. In time, we believe that the TEA’s rating will come to reflect this truth.

Our 2019-20 ratings will be different by design.

This will be a one year rating for Yellowstone and we are poised for greater success this coming year. It is instructive to note that our first-year scores were generally comparable or better than most of the scores of our peer schools. Yet, these schools did not receive an improvement required rating because of their eligibility for the “student growth” domain.

More Returning Students

In 2019-20, the majority of students will have attended Yellowstone for at least one year. This high level of retention and stability will enable us to continue the growth trends reported above. In addition, all of our students will be included in the state growth formula.

We believe these two factors alone are enough to move us out of the “F” rating – but we are not satisfied to stop here. Our campus-wide goal is to achieve a “B” rating in 2019-20.

Increased Time for Math, Reading, and Science

We have reconfigured our daily schedule to increase the amount of time students will daily spend in math, reading, and science. We are also providing more time and support for our intervention program, which supports students who need extra attention.

Deliberate Planning and Staffing Choices

We have been very deliberate in our staffing model, strategic planning, and partnerships to ensure we stay laser focused on the performance goals that will contribute to success for all of our students.

An expected bump on the road to success.

Yellowstone anticipated this rating for our first year based on the way the rating formula works, and the way we launched our model and our mission.

The TEA’s Rating Formula

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) bases its rating on a weighted system that measures school performance through three separate domains:

  • Student Achievement
  • School Progress
  • Closing the Gaps

For each domain, the TEA provides a scaled score and then assigns a grade based on their weighted rating formula.

Domain 1: Student Achievement

The student achievement domain measures absolute performance based on each individual students’ state testing results.

By design, we grew very quickly our first year and remained focused on our mission to partner with families who have not had access to excellent educational opportunities. Our early benchmark testing showed that well over 50% of our middle school students needed extensive intervention in math and reading.

Despite showing impressive growth from these early benchmarks, many of our students performed below state standards, resulting in a low student achievement score.

Domain 2: School Progress

The school progress domain is measured by taking the better of two scores: 1) student growth and 2) relative performance.

Student Growth

Student growth is measured by how much students grow from one year to the next on the state test. We earn a half point for students who make expected progress and one point for students who make accelerated progress.

For the first year of College Prep, we more than doubled our student population from 100 Yellowstone Academy students to 215 students in 5th through 8th grade.

Since they came from a private school, these 100 Yellowstone Academy students were ineligible to be included in the student growth domain because they had no comparable state testing data from previous years. This had a significant impact on our scaled score in the state’s rating formula.

Relative Performance

Our achievement compared to schools with similar percentages of Economically Disadvantaged students. This year, we were at 93% economically disadvantaged.

Domain 3: Closing the Gaps

Domain 3 is measures how well a school closes gaps for student “subgroups” who have historically been underserved based on demographic data.

For Yellowstone, our majority population are in two subgroups: African-American, and Economically Disadvantaged. As our overall scores improve, so will this measure.

Summary

The table below shows how the TEA takes each domain’s scaled score, weights it, and then combines the weighted scores to form the final ranking on a scale of 0-100.

For our first year of operation, Yellowstone College Prep earned a final weighted score of 50.