For more than a decade, CHILDREN AT RISK (C@R) has ranked and graded Texas public schools to help parents, educators, and community members understand how schools in their community are performing, and to spark dialogue on the quality of public education across Texas. This year, when CHILDREN AT RISK would normally be putting out the 2021 School Rankings, we will instead be releasing the School Rankings: PANDEMIC EDITION II.

This analysis is different from our previous iterations to better address the impact of the pandemic on schools as well as data concerns such as 2019-2020 STAAR data unavailability due to Covid-19 and participation rates and methods for 2020-21 STAAR data. Therefore, this analysis focuses on changes in academic performance during the pandemic with a special focus on school resiliency. 

What’s in this year’s rankings?

Just as the Texas Education Agency paused A-F ratings for the 2020-21 school year, CHILDREN AT RISK will not be assigning grades in 2021. While the STAAR results are reflective of the turbulent year students faced, and should be reviewed in that context, they are not without value.  As education researchers and child advocates it is useful to know what school practices or programs enabled students to stay on course, and which students or schools will need extra support in the years ahead.

This iteration of CHILDREN AT RISK’s Annual School Rankings includes the following: 

Pandemic Resilient Schools. This list honors schools that have maintained or improved academic performance between the 2018-19 and 2020-21 Academic years. Pandemic Resilient Schools are school campuses with 75% or more students classified as economically disadvantaged and also have a history of high performance (A or B C@R Rating in 2018-19). These schools experienced either an increase or no change in academic performance scores during the Pandemic.

Red Flag Schools. This list calls attention to schools that were expected to be resilient based on previous academic achievements, but experienced decreases in academic performance during the Pandemic.  Red Flag schools are schools that have a history of good academic performance (A or B C@R rating in 2018-19) and experienced the most significant decreases in academic performance between academic years 2018-19 and 2020-21 out of all schools.

Click the buttons bellow to view this year’s lists. To learn more about these new indicators and how this year’s rankings were calculated, read our full methodology report provided below.  

Texas Take-Aways

COVID-19 changed our public education landscape nearly overnight. Thousands of Texas schools and nearly 5.5 million students faced a school year like never before. Texas was one of the few states to administer standardized tests to student for the 2020-2021 school year. The 2021 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results released in June showed the number of students not meeting grade level standards increase across almost every grade level and subject area.

• Out of the nearly 8,000 Texas public schools evaluated, 27% experienced a decrease in academic performance between academic years 2018-19 and 2020-21.

• Only 19% of schools serving predominantly economically disadvantaged students were rated Pandemic Resilient across the state (Almost 40% of schools in Texas serve predominantly economically disadvantaged students).

• 71% of schools identified as Pandemic Proof  in 2020 went on to be rated as Pandemic Resilient this year.  

In good news, almost twice as many schools were resilient than we predicted in 2020 (329 Pandemic Proof Schools in 2020 -> 602 Pandemic Resilient Schools in 2021).

Across Texas, 64% of campuses had a decrease in total enrollment from academic years 2018-19 to 2020-21 and 4% of campuses had a significant decrease in enrollment (31% or more decrease from the previous year – that’s one standard deviation below the average aggregate change of all campuses evaluated).

Regional Insights

Houston Area

1,347 schools were evaluated in the Houston area, of those, 107 were Pandemic Resilient Schools and 178 were Red Flag Schools.

North Texas

1,968 schools were evaluated in the North Texas area, of those, 105 were Pandemic Resilient Schools and 388 were Red Flag Schools.

West Texas

236 schools were evaluated in the West Texas area, of those, 62 were Pandemic Resilient Schools and 16 were Red Flag Schools.

Rio Grande Valley

583 schools were evaluated in the Rio Grande Valley area, of those, 233 were Pandemic Resilient Schools and 56 were Red Flag Schools.

Central Texas

533 schools were evaluated in the Central Texas area, of those, 5 were Pandemic Resilient Schools and 39 were Red Flag Schools.

San Antonio

686 schools were evaluated in the San Antonio area, of those, 19 were Pandemic Resilient Schools and 44 were Red Flag Schools.

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