Data Glossary


A

Accountability Rating:
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, ratings assigned by TEA were based on a school district’s or campus’ performance across four indexes, student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, and postsecondary readiness. Possible ratings are:
  • Met Standard;
  • Met Alternative Standard;
  • Needs Improvement;
  • Not Rated; and
  • Not Rated due to Data Integrity Issue.
No accountability ratings were assigned for the 2011-12 school year.
ACS Comparable Wage Index:
A regional cost index used to measure how much more or less it costs each school district to recruit and retain equivalent school personnel in order to make better comparisons across geographic areas. There are many strategies that can be used to estimate a regional cost index. This one is based on the American Community Survey (ACS) which is conducted annually by the US Census Bureau. The ACS CWI measures regional variation in the cost of hiring educators by observing regional variation in the salaries of comparable workers who are not educators. Intuitively, if the nurses, accountants and mechanical engineers all earn 10 percent more than the state average for their professions in one region, then the cost of hiring teachers in that region should also be 10 percent higher than the state average.
The ACS CWI for 2016 uses survey data from the 2013, 2014 and 2015 administrations of the ACS. The ACS CWI for 2015 uses survey data from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 administrations of the ACS. We use the ACS CWI for 2015 to adjust both the 2014 and 2015 data files, and the ACS CWI for 2016 to adjust the 2016 data files.
Alternative Education Accountability (AEA):
Under the Texas accountability system, alternative education campuses (AECs) have the option to request to be evaluated under alternative education accountability (AEA) procedures. If they qualify, they receive accountability ratings based on different performance standards than those used for regular campuses.
Alternative Education:
Education provided in public schools, charter schools, schools of choice, juvenile justice, disciplinary settings, or school within a school to at-risk students who are not in main stream teaching facilities.
Alternative Education Campus (AEC):
A school campus that serves primarily students in alternative education programs.
At-Risk:
Students that are at risk of dropping out of school. The Texas Education Code includes many instances where a student is considered at risk including if the student is not advancing from one grade to the next, is pregnant or a parent, has been expelled, is homeless, is on probation or parole or other factors.

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B

Benchmarking (or benchmark assessment):
Assessing a student’s level of achievement in comparison to a student’s expected level of achievement at his age, grade, or developmental level.

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C

Campus Cost Deflator:
A campus measure of the difference in payroll costs to recruit and retain equivalent school personnel. The campus cost deflator may differ from its district's ACS Comparable Wage Index because some Charter School Districts operate campuses in more than one city.
Campus Id or Number:
A nine digit number used to identify each Texas school campus. The first six digits indicate the school district number and the last three are added to uniquely identify the school campus.
Charter School:
A school created by the granting of a charter by the Texas State Board of Education pursuant to Chapter 12 of the Texas Education Code.
Comparable Improvement:
A TEA measure that calculates how student performance on mathematics and reading/English language arts tests has changed (or grown) from one year to the next, and compares the change to that of the 40 schools that are demographically most similar to the target school.
Composite Academic Progress Percentile:
Percentile ranking of combined annual academic student growth in math and reading averaged over the prior three years. For example, a 2015 Composite Academic Progress Percentile will be based on an average of the student progress shown on the STAAR and/or end-of-course exams for the 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 school years. Three-year averages are used to get a more stable and persistent measure with less year-to-year volatility. Values range from 1 (low) to 99 (high).
Composite Academic Progress Quintile:
Quintile ranking of combined annual academic student growth in math and reading. Values range from 1 (low) to 5 (high) indicating in which 20% the Composite Academic Progress Percentile lies. For example, the first quintile represents the lowest fifth of the data (1-20%) and the fifth quintile represents the upper fifth (80% - 100%).
Core Operating Expenditures (Campus)
Campus-related core operating include operating expenditures for instruction, instructional resources, instructional leadership, school leadership and student support services (the total of all operating spending under functions 11-33 as defined by TEA). Unlike district core operating expenditures, campus-related core operating expenditures exclude extracurricular activities, general administration, facility maintenance and operations, security and monitoring services, and data processing services. Both district and campus core operating expenditures exclude food service, transportation, construction and debt service.
Core Operating Expenditures (District)
Core operating expenditures include current operating expenditures (as defined by TEA) on instruction (function 11), instructional resources (function 12), curriculum and staff development (function 13), instructional leadership (function 21), school leadership (function 23), guidance counseling (function 31), social work (function 32), health services (function 33), extracurricular activities (function 36), general administration (function 41), facilities maintenance and operations (function 51), security and monitoring (function 52), data processing services (function 53), and fund raising (function 81—charter schools only). Core operating expenditures do not include spending on construction or debt service.
Unlike TEA, TXSmartSchools also excludes spending on student transportation (function 34), food service (function 35), the incremental costs associated with the chapter 41 purchase or sale of Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) related to school district wealth sharing (function 92), and payments to juvenile justice alternative education programs (function 95) because those categories of spending represent additional functions of local school districts not directly related to student achievement.
Core Operating Expenditures per Pupil:
Core operating expenditures divided by the number of students.
Core Payroll Expenditures (Campus):
Campus core operating expenditures (functions 11-33) for payroll (object codes 6100-6199) and contracted labor (object codes 6200, 6211, 6213, 6219, 6249 and 6299).
Core Payroll Expenditures (District):
Core operating expenditures for payroll (object codes 6100-6199) and contracted labor (object codes 6200, 6211, 6213, 6219, 6249 and 6299).
Cost-Adjusted Spending (Campus):
A three-year average of a campus’s core operating expenditures for campus-related activities after adjusting payroll and contracted services for regional differences in the cost of labor and after adjusting for any shared service arrangements. Campus-related activities include instruction, instructional resources, instructional leadership, school leadership and student support services.
Cost-Adjusted Spending (District):
A three-year average of a district’s core operating expenditures after adjusting payroll and contracted services for regional differences in the cost of labor and after adjusting for any shared service arrangements. This does not include food service, transportation, debt service, capital outlay, or community services.

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D

Disciplinary Alternate Education Program (DAEP):
An educational and self-discipline alternative instructional program for students who are removed from their regular classes for disciplinary reasons.
District Id or Number:
A six digit number used to identify each Texas school district. The first three digits indicate the county and the last three are added to uniquely identify the district.
Dropout Recovery School (DRS):
An alternative education program specifically created to give a second chance to students who have dropped out of the traditional education model and are now ready to resume their education.

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E

Economically Disadvantaged:
Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch or other public assistance.
Enrollment:
The total number of public school students enrolled in early childhood education through grade 12 on a designated “snapshot date,” typically the last Friday in October.

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F

FAST Rating:
A rating created for the Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) that is a combination of the Spending Index and Composite Progress Percentile. Values range from 1 star (Very High spending/Low Composite progress) to 5 stars (Very Low spending/High Composite progress). The new Smart Score is a similar measure, but is not perfectly comparable to earlier FAST ratings due to improvements in the underlying Smart Score calculations.
Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST):
A detailed study of Texas public school funding and its relation to academic achievement conducted and maintained by the Texas Comptroller’s office. An accompanying web-based tool allows anyone with Internet access to see the results of the study and to use its data to compare school districts with one another on measures of spending and academic success.
Fiscal Agent:
A school district in a shared service arrangement who collects funds from the other member districts, and makes purchases or pays salaries with those shared funds on behalf of the other member districts. See Shared Service Arrangement.
Fiscal Peers:
A cost comparison group consisting of up to 40 districts (or campuses) most fiscally similar to each district (or campus). Cost factors to determine fiscal peers include size, location, cost-adjusted wages and student characteristics. Each district (or campus) can have a unique fiscal peer group, though due to similarities, many groups overlap.
Fiscal Peers Group:
Group for determining fiscal peers.
  • 0 = Standard Campus
  • 1 = AEA Campus
  • 2 = High Special Education Campus
  • 3 = Residential Campus
  • 4 = JJAEP/DAEP Campus
Free or Reduced Lunch Program:
Also known as the National School Lunch Program, a federally assisted meal program operating in public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each day and is administered through the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service.

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G

Grade Span:
A range indicating the lowest and highest grades served by a school campus. For example, "KG - 08" indicates a kindergarten through grade 8 school. Possible grades include: EE, PK, KG, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, and 12.

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H

High School Comparable Wage Index:
A regional cost index used to measure how much more or less it costs each school district to recruit and retain school personnel who do not have college degrees. This indicator is constructed using the same methodology as the ACS Comparable Wage Index, but a different set of comparable workers. Where the ACS Comparable Wage Index reflects differences in the cost of hiring college-educated workers who are not educators, the High School Comparable Wage Index reflects differences in the cost of hiring high school graduates who do not have a bachelor's degree.
High Special Education Campus:
A school campus with a student enrollment comprised mostly of Special Education students.

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I

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):
The federal legislation that outlines the rights and regulations for students with disabilities who require special education and ensures that students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs.
Index 1: Student Achievement:
This index provides a snapshot of performance across subjects, on both general and alternative STAAR assessments, at the satisfactory-or passing-performance standard. The Index Score is equivalent to the percentage of assessments that met the current STAAR passing standards.
Index 2: Student Progress:
This index provides a measure of student progress by subject and student group independent of overall student achievement levels. Campuses and districts receive one point for each percentage of STAAR test takers that met growth expectations and two points for each percentage of STAAR test takers that exceeded growth expectations.
Index 3: Closing Performance Gaps:
This index provides a measure of performance on state STAAR tests by economically disadvantaged students, as well as students in the two lowest performing race/ethnic groups. Campuses and districts receive one point for each percentage of students in these groups that who passed the STAAR test. Beginning in 2014, districts and campuses will receive two points for each percentage of students in these groups who met the advanced standard on STAAR tests.
Index 4: Postsecondary Readiness:
This index provides a measure postsecondary readiness. Campuses and districts receive their score based on graduation rates.

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J

Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP):
Students may be assigned to a Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program for serious infractions or as a result of a court decision. Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs aim to reduce delinquency and rehabilitate offenders while also assisting them in performing academically at grade level.

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L

Limited English Proficient (LEP):
Students that have limited proficiency with the English language and do not meet the Texas Administrative Code’s English Language Proficiency Standards. Most of these students are enrolled in Bilingual Education/English as a Second Language programs.

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M

Mobility:
The Texas Education Agency considers a student as mobile if he or she has been in membership at the school for less than 83% of the school year (i.e., has missed six or more weeks). The mobility percent at the campus level is based on prior-year attendance. It is calculated by taking the number of mobile students during the school year and dividing by the number of students who were in membership at any time during that school year.
The mobility rate shown at the district level is based on the count of mobile students identified at the campus level. The district mobility rate reflects school-to-school mobility within the same district or from outside the district.

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O

Operating Expenditures:
Operating expenditures are the portion of total expenditures used for day-to-day operations. They exclude spending on school buses, building additions or repairs, and debt.

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P

Payroll Costs (Spending by Object):
Payroll expenditures divided by the number of students.
Payroll Expenditures:
Gross salaries, wages and benefits for all employees.

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R

Regional Cost Deflator:
A regional measure of the difference in payroll costs to recruit and retain equivalent school personnel. This is based on the ACS Comparable Wage Index.
Region Number:
The Texas Education Agency has divided Texas into 20 regions each serviced by its own Regional Education Service Center. The region number is a value from 1-20 indicating in which region a district or campus is located. More information and a map of the regions can be found on the TEA web site.

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S

School Type:
A single letter identifier indicating the grade levels a school campus serves.
  • B = Multilevel;
  • E = Elementary
  • M = Middle;
  • S = Secondary
School Year:
Schools operate on academic-year calendars that start and end in different years. School years may be expressed in a number of ways. For example, 2014-2015, 2014-15, FY2015, and 2015 may all be used to indicate the same school year.
In the TXSmartSchools data files we use a four-digit year to identify the school year. However, many of the data items within each school year file (like the Composite Academic Progress scores and the Adjusted Spending Per Student) are based on a three-year average of that school year's data and the prior two years.
Shared Service Arrangement:
A partnership or agreement among school districts to jointly share responsibility for providing some service(s). Agreements may cover a jointly operated special education program or a consulting teacher who works for more than one district. Typically, one district in a shared service arrangement acts as a fiscal agent for the group, collecting funds from the other member districts, and making purchases or paying salaries with those shared funds on behalf of the other member districts. Without proper adjustments, the spending by fiscal agents looks artificially high while the spending by member districts looks artificially low.
Smart Score:
A combination of the Spending Index and Composite Progress Percentile. Values range from 1 star (Very High spending/Low Composite progress) to 5 stars (Very Low spending/High Composite progress).
Special Education:
The range of educational and social services provided to students with exceptional needs, such as students with learning disabilities.
Spending Index:
Quintile ranking of a district’s (or campus’) cost-adjusted operating expenditures relative to their fiscal peer group. Ranges from Very Low to Very High.
Spending Score:
A numeric version of the Spending Index. Values range from 1 (very high) to 5 (very low).
Student Mobility Percent:
A measure of the number of students transferring in and out of a school or district. Excessive mobility not only affects both the mobile students and the classrooms to/from which they move, but also arguably drives up cost.
STAAR:
In spring 2012, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). The STAAR program includes annual assessments for grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics; assessments in writing at grades 4 and 7; in science at grades 5 and 8; and in social studies at grade 8; and end-of-course assessments for English I, English II, Algebra I, biology and U.S history. Additionally, STAAR EOC assessments for English III and Algebra II will be administered on a voluntary basis beginning in spring 2016.
STAAR is a more rigorous testing program. It emphasizes "readiness" standards, which are the knowledge and skills that are considered most important for success in the grade or course subject that follows and for college and career. STAAR will contain more test questions at most grades than did TAKS assessments. The high school assessments will move from grade-based tests to course-based exams. Also, for the first time, the state's assessments will have a time limit.
STAAR Alternate:
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has developed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness Alternate (STAAR Alternate) to meet the federal requirements mandated under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a federal education law previously known as No Child Left Behind. STAAR Alternate is designed for the purpose of assessing students in grades 3-8 and high school who have significant cognitive disabilities and are receiving special education services. This is not administered as a traditional paper or multiple-choice test. Rather, teachers observe as students complete assessment tasks.
STAAR L:
A linguistically accommodated English version of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) grades 3-8 and end-of-course (EOC) mathematics, science, and social studies assessments. STAAR L is provided for English language learners (ELLs) who meet participation requirements for a substantial degree of linguistic accommodation in these subject areas. STAAR L is administered as an online testing program.
STAAR Modified:
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness Modified (STAAR Modified) is an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards. This assessment is intended for a small number of students receiving special education services who meet the participation requirements. This test is shorter than the general STAAR assessment with only three possible choices on multiple choice questions. Also, short-answer questions or thematically linked selections are removed.
STAAR Spanish:
A Spanish version of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) grades 3-5 assessments. STAAR Spanish is provided for students who meet participation requirements for a substantial degree of linguistic accommodation in these subject areas. STAAR Spanish is administered in a comparable format to that of the general STAAR test.

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T

TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills):
The previous state testing program was administered to public school students grades 3-11 and designed to assess students’ mastery of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state’s standard curriculum. The process to replace TAKS with STAAR began in the 2011-12 school year.
TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills):
The state-mandated curriculum of academic standards for students.
Total Operating Expenditures per Pupil:
The total operating expenditures, divided by the number of students. This measure excludes debt service, construction expenditures, and other capital outlays.

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W

WADA:
Weighted Average Daily Attendance. It is a measure of the extent a school district's students in average daily attendance are participating in special programs (special education, career and technology education, bilingual education, compensatory education, and gifted education.

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Y

Year:
For school data, a four-digit year indicates the academic year ending in that year. For example, 2015 indicates the 2014-2015 school year. For smart scores, the year indicates the year the scores were released. Smart scores are based on the prior year’s school data. Thus, a download file for 2017 smart scores, will have a 2016 in the first column because it is based on 2015-2016 school year data.

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Z

Z-Score:
A standardized average test score used to measure academic progress. The state average z-score is zero, a z-score of one indicates that performance is one standard deviation above the state average and a z-score of negative one indicates that performance is one standard deviation below the state average.

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