Community effort underway to save Mendez Middle School

- When it comes to the STAAR test, district trustees say Mendez Middle School has made the "IR" or improvement required list for the past few years.

“Reading, writing, social studies scores, there were some challenges there,” said Terrence Eaton, assoc. superintendent for middle schools.

But why is this happening? District officials say the school has a high percentage of students who are learning the English language, and is shows on poor test scores. Board member Jayme Mathias has his strong opinions on testing these students.

“We have a high population of socioeconomically disadvantaged students here. So when you place them in a culture of high stakes testing as we have here in Texas, you're going to put them on a collision course,” said Mathias.

Now, Austin I.S.D. has until spring, the next STAAR test to turn scores around...or else the Texas Education Agency could step in, which could mean closing and reopening under a new administration. Tuesday night the district held a community meeting, letting parents know what options are on the table.

“There's partnering with an educational entity, there are decisions of closing or reopening campuses, there are so many possibilities,” said Eaton.

Mathias thinks the choice is clear. 

“Five years ago this month we partnered with Johns Hopkins University to turn around Eastside Memorial High school. We are here this evening to talk about partnering with an organization to turn around this school,” said Mathias at Tuesday’s meeting.

For this optimistic Southeast Austin community, losing the old Mendez they love, is not an option now, and should never be.

“We will get back results in August, and we will be either opening this school or not after that, so we need to have a plan in place,” said Mathias.

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