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EPISD schools among the most resilient during the pandemic, state advocacy group says

Photo of Bowie High School classroom

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Nov. 10, 2021) — The pandemic created unprecedented instructional challenges for schools throughout Texas, but a statewide study of STAAR data showed several EPISD campuses proved to be among the most resilient in the state despite the obstacles. 

Children at Risk, a non-partisan research and advocacy nonprofit dedicated to understanding and addressing child poverty and inequality, released its 2021 School Rankings which studies how schools in Texas communities are performing.

Because of the pandemic, the organization created two lists: Pandemic Resilient Schools for campuses that maintained or improved their academic performance between 2018 and 2021; and Red Flag Schools for campuses that had performed at satisfactory levels in the past but decreased in academic performance during the pandemic.

Children at Risk found that Bowie and Austin high schools, as well as Lamar Elementary were among the top 10 most resilient schools in Texas in their categories, according to scores on the STAAR. 

When broken down by region, EPISD schools also performed at extraordinary levels. 

Bowie, Austin and Burges high school ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 in west Texas among high schools for resiliency. Lamar was ranked No. 1 among elementary schools and was joined by Hawkins Elementary at No. 6 and Hillside Elementary at No. 10. In the middle-school category in west Texas, Charles Middle and MacArthur PK-8 were ranked No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.

“The challenges that our students and their families faced over the last year and a half have impacted our schools in ways we never could have imagined,” said Interim Superintendent Vince Sheffield. “But El Paso and EPISD has shown to be resilient and strong. The rankings published today by Children At Risk show just how hard our teachers and staff worked to serve the children of El Paso during one of the most difficult periods in our lives.” 

Children @ Risk data shows:

  • Out of all the schools evaluated in Pandemic Edition II, 27 percent experienced a decrease in overall aggregate campus level academic performance between academic years 2018-19 and 2020-21. 
  • 71% of schools C@R identified as Pandemic Proof in 2020 went on to be rated as Pandemic Resilient in 2021.
  • In good news, almost twice as many schools were resilient than C@R expected (329 Pandemic Proof Schools in 2020 -> 602 Pandemic Resilient Schools in 2021).
  • Only 19% of schools serving predominantly economically disadvantaged students were rated Pandemic Resilient across the state. Meanwhile almost 40% of schools in Texas serve predominantly economically disadvantaged students.  
  • Across Texas, 64 percent of campuses had a decrease in total enrollment from academic years 2018-19 to 2020-21 and 4 percent of campuses had a significant decrease in enrollment (31 percent or more decrease from the previous year – that’s one standard deviation below the average aggregate change of all campuses evaluated). 

Children At Risk evaluated more than 8,000 Texas public schools to produce its second special Annual School Rankings Pandemic Edition. Officials with the non-profit organization announced the result of Wednesday to illustrate the schools that were the most resilient in performance on the state assessments and which schools under performed despite advantages before the pandemic. 

Children At Risk did not rank any EPISD schools among the Top 10 Red Flag Schools in the state.

Story by Reneé de Santos
Photo by Leonel Monroy