Recognized, recognized and exemplary are the three words of the day at Jacksonville Independent School District. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Curriculum Judy Terry said both Jacksonville Middle School and the district itself stand to receive recognized accountability ratings in 2010 and Nichols Intermediate School could win exemplary status, all firsts for the district.

“What our preliminary results show is the district could be recognized pending notification of completion rate data,” Terry said. “This is whether the kids in each school graduation within four years.”

Officials from JISD received preliminary results near the beginning of June.

The standards this year were more stringent than last year, she added. For example, in 2009 it took a 75 percent passing score to achieve recognized status for subjects like math and science during the district’s Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills  (TAKS) testing. This year the number is 80 percent. Terry said exemplary status requires 90 percent or higher.

“It looks like our reading scores, district-wide, are all in the 90s,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Joe Wardell said the scores are tremendous and reflect the commitment of the students and of the faculty and staff as a whole. He also said if the district’s current goal of becoming a recognized campus becomes a reality in July when the results are finalized, the bar will have to be raised.

“Your goal should always be the next step up the line,” Wardell said.

He added success on these tests and this year’s accountability ratings was more difficult due to the higher standard, but the students and teachers came through.

“We did well,” he said. “I’ve never seen a group of people that works as hard as this group does.”

Terry said the new ratings are sweet moments for other campuses within the district.

“West Side may be exemplary for three years in a row,” she said.

Once the district receives official results in July, West Side Elementary could be able to claim the most exemplary ratings of any school in the district; the school was exemplary in 2008 and 2009 as well.

West Side Principal Sandi Jones said the achievement speaks volumes of those who call West Side Elementary’s halls home.

“It feels like West Side has the hardest working staff and students anywhere in the state of Texas,” Jones said. “That shows in the accomplishments we’ve made.”

She said West Side has a focus on the individual needs of each student and it’s how the teachers make sure every child is successful.

“Our ongoing goal is to become better than we are now,” she added.

Nichols Intermediate faculty and staff members are pleased to hear the news, Nichols Assistant Principal Bill McDowell said.

“It’s great, the staff here has done a great job and the staff and students have worked very hard,” McDowell said.

He also said it is fascinating to do all the work and see where it all pays off.

“Our goal now is to keep it up,” he added. “It can be tough to keep it up there, but that’s what we plan on doing.”

Jacksonville Middle School Instructional Strategist Lynne Bullock said she and the rest of the school are very excited about the middle school’s new recognized rating possibility.

“We’re excited to be there on the list instead of at the bottom and acceptable,” Bullock said. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re glad to show the improvement and hard work that went behind this.”

She added the new goal for the school will be reaching exemplary.

“We hope to make it to that next level,” Bullock said.

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