ResponsiveEd’s alternative accountability campuses known as Premier High Schools are among the highest performing credit recovery schools in Texas, according to a ranking recently released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). On the list of 145 alternative accountability charter school, 6 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 25 best schools are Premier campuses
The ranking is based on student performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests taken in 2015. At the top of the list is ResponsiveEd’s Premier High School in Austin, where students achieved a 93% pass rate. The average pass rate for charter schools and traditional public schools in Texas is 77%.
Rosalinda Gonzalez, Executive Director of Academics for Premier High Schools, attributes the program’s success to the schools’ constant dedication to at-risk students.
“Many of our Premier High Schools have been successful because we do not lose focus on these students who often fall through the cracks in the big public high schools. Our high schools are small by design. Students know that we are focused on their academic needs and that we will encourage and support them as they earn that elusive high school diploma. At every campus, our directors, teachers and staff are continually helping the students reach their goals,” she said.
Since launching its first 15 high schools in 1999, ResponsiveEd’s Premier district has grown to 33 campuses across Texas. It is the second largest alternative accountability charter school district in the state with 3,591 students enrolled.
Jennifer Kasapi, campus director at Premier High School of Austin, credits her students’ success to the culture of trust and collaboration the staff have created. She finds that many students who come to the school have struggled in the past because they learned to avoid attracting a teacher’s attention. The individualized nature of the Premier High School program prevents this from happening and allows them to fill in the gaps in their education.
“We work as a team from day one to identify learning gaps and place our students in remediation programs. In the beginning it can be a struggle. Eventually you build trust with the students and their families. A big part of this trust is consistency and constantly checking up on the students. Staff meet with students individually to discuss their current academic level, create an individualized plan and track results. Once students and families notice the change in their academic abilities, they are motivated to reach their academic potential,” said Ms. Kasapi.
At Premier High School of Abilene, campus director Sue Pond says their students’ success is due to well-prepared and dedicated teachers who teach the curriculum rather than teaching to the test.
“On our campus, the teachers take a personal interest in each student to know where they are academically and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Because we teach the curriculum, our students are prepared academically and they also meet the demands of state testing,” said Ms. Pond.
In the Rio Grande Valley, five of ResponsiveEd’s Premier High Schools ranked in the top 25. Students served at these schools are 97% economically disadvantaged and 68% Limited English Proficient (LEP). The sixth Rio Grande Valley campus, a CTE center in Edinburg, opened in October. Their students took the STAAR tests in December 2015 and are awaiting results.
Alma Prado, campus director at Premier High School of San Juan, the top performing Rio Grande Valley Premier, attributes their success to the school’s dedication to character development and knowing their students through careful monitoring of academic and assessment data.
“Our school focuses on the development of character traits that enable students to make better decisions that impact their overall academic learning. We see our students being transformed into better students and citizens. Additionally, the staff members work diligently on a daily basis to review and analyze student data. Daily student conferencing and monitoring are vital to our students’ success,” said Ms. Prado.
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