by Coy Holcombe.
We have received some good news regarding our Pre-K grant. The Tier 2 funding criteria has changed and now EISD will remain eligible to receive funding under Tier 2. When the proposed rules were first released, Tier 2 funding was to be reserved for those districts that had previously received a Pre-K grant and were able to show growth as measured by the TAKS scores of 3rd graders. According to the first rules released, schools funded under Tier 2 had to "demonstrate improved student performance results for the last three consecutive years on the Grade 3 assessment instruments" and have "demonstrated successful implementation of a prekindergarten program that includes proven readiness components". While EISD certainly met the second part of this criteria, I was concerned about the part that stated "demonstrate improved student performance results". It would be difficult for our 3rd grade TAKS scores to show improvement because we have had 90% or more of our students pass the 3rd grade TAKS for a number of years.
Recently, an updated definition of Tier 2 funding was released. The new, revised definition is as follows:
Tier 2: A district or charter school whose average Grade 3 TAKS performance for the last three consecutive years is above state average in reading and math; and has previously received Prekindergarten Expansion Grant funding and participated in Cycle 14 (school year 2008-2009). The district or charter school qualifies to apply for $900 per student, maximum $1 million and minimum $15,000. If the district has over 90 percent educationally disadvantaged enrollment, the district may apply for last year’s allocation or $900 per student, whichever is greater, with no maximum.
Note that in the new definition, the word "improvement" has been replaced with the phrase "whose average Grade 3 TAKS performance…is above state average in reading and math". Under the new definition, EISD will continue to qualify for pre-k grant funding.
I know that local teachers, administrators, and community members took the time to write to TEA regarding this program. I definitely believe that the emails that TEA received from our district, and other districts in similar situations, contributed to the changing of the definition regarding Tier 2 funding. I want to thank all the people that took the time to express their concerns and to share their success stories. It definitely made a difference for our district and for our children!