NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Local Standards in Corpus Christi

April 18, 1997

School officials in Corpus Christi, Texas, were so fed up with Wynn Seale Middle School three years ago that they "disestablished" it, brought in a new principal and let him hand-pick his teachers. Realizing that the entire school district needed upgrading, Corpus Christi officials set and implemented rigorous standards which surpassed those of the state.

  • A 50-page guide, "Real World Academic Standards" was developed -- setting forth what students from pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade must know and how they are to demonstrate it.
  • The standards were tested in the 1995-96 school year and adopted in all 61 schools this year.
  • A no-nonsense discipline code was adopted, regular testing was instituted, programs were developed to help students who were falling behind and "social promotion" -- which had allowed students to advance from grade to grade whether they had qualified or not -- was banned.

While it is too early to judge the success of the Corpus Christi experiment, test scores are reportedly heading upward. Students there seem to be responding to higher expectations, also.

The district's goal is for 90 percent of students to pass state tests. At Wynn Seale, only one in four students passed state math tests three years ago. Today, 60 percent pass.

Source: John Ritter, "City Head of the Class in School Standards," USA Today, April 18, 1997.


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