The East Dallas Report: Will That Drop in Stonewall Jackson’s Academic Ratings Rattle Lakewood Real Estate?

By Bruce Felps, editor of the East Dallas Times

Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, near the border of the M Streets-Greenland Hills neighborhood, recently took an academic rating hit from the Texas Education Agency.

TEA dropped Stonewall’s rating from “exemplary” to “acceptable,” a drop of two rungs in the course of one school year.

The decline could change the perception of prospective homebuyers with elementary school-age children when considering a home within the Stonewall attendance zone. Then again, the resale market for existing homes might remain business as usual.

So, which factor became reality so far?

Scott Carlson, a 30-year veteran of East Dallas residential real estate, said any market evidence just two months after the TEA announced its analysis would be strictly anecdotal.

“Unless you went into MLS, looked at sales stats, and called buyers to see if the rating played any role in their decision there’s no way to know. Bottom line is you can’t do that,” he said. “I don’t think it really matters anyway. Stonewall and Lakewood [Elementary in the adjacent attendance zone to the east] are our two most desired elementary schools.”

Carlson’s assessment of the rating drop not mattering rings true in the eyes of the Dallas Central Appraisal District, the agency that ascribes home valuations for taxation purposes.

Cheryl Jordan, community relations spokeswoman for DCAD, said appraisers ignore buyers’ reasoning and look only at resale prices in a given area.

“We don’t analyze the market, we reflect its activity, past-tense,” she said. “We look at the bottom line not why it happened.”

Darren Dattalo, a real estate agent who sits on the Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association board of directors, wrote in an e-mail message that the market has yet to react to TEA’s action.

“I believe it’s far too soon to see a statistical impact to this. Ask again in a year and we’ll have enough data to really tell,” he wrote. “Anecdotally speaking, the word is out and buyers are talking. But buyers and agents who know the area also know the whole story and know that Stonewall is just as good as it ever was. And while bad news travels faster than good news, the truth will make itself known.”

Olivia Henderson, Stonewall’s principal, understandably echoed Dattalo’s assertion that Stonewall remains an exemplary school despite the state’s findings. TEA, she explained in a letter to parents originally published in the Stonewall PTA newsletter, said the agency simply changed its rating matrix.

“According to the TEA’s testing program, 2011 was the year that all students would be tested on grade level and that all student test scores would count. This included our small group of Deaf Education students who have previously taken a modified version of the TAKS test. This is the first year that the state has aggregated their scores with the general education population,” she wrote.

Prospective buyers, when considering a home in a given school attendance zone, might be better served discussing the school with PTA members rather than listening to a state agency. The neighborhood level, in this case, likely matters more than the prevailing bureaucratic winds.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times.We are happy to have him as a Contributor to CandysDirt. Even better: he’s a product of the Dallas ISD, and he turned out just fine. But don’t tell that to his shrink.

 

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  • As both a Realtor and a new Stonewall parent, the significant drop initially suprised and concerned me. After personally discussing the issue with Ms.Henderson as well as fellow parents-all fears have melted away. The scores for a majority of students at Stonewall did not deviate from the past We purposefully removed our child from her private school education to move her to her neighborhood school. We are delighted with the education, teachers and incredible parental involvement at Stonewall. As a strong advocate for E.Dallas as well as continued support for improvements in DISD I ask fellow Realtors to encourage clients to visit the schools-both public and private, throughout their neighborhoods before taking test scores or public opinion as the end all decision making factors in eliminated a home. Standarized testing will always be around in education-but its just one indication of progress or lack there of.

  • As both a Realtor and a new Stonewall parent, the significant drop initially suprised and concerned me. After personally discussing the issue with Ms.Henderson as well as fellow parents-all fears have melted away. The scores for a majority of students at Stonewall did not deviate from the past We purposefully removed our child from her private school education to move her to her neighborhood school. We are delighted with the education, teachers and incredible parental involvement at Stonewall. As a strong advocate for E.Dallas as well as continued support for improvements in DISD I ask fellow Realtors to encourage clients to visit the schools-both public and private, throughout their neighborhoods before taking test scores or public opinion as the end all decision making factors in eliminated a home. Standarized testing will always be around in education-but its just one indication of progress or lack there of.

  • J. L. Long Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School also host the regional school for the deaf and also took a ratings hit.

    However, at the same time Woodrow was named one of the top schools in the nation by the Washington Post for AP participation. The year prior it was on the Newsweek list and received the ACT College Readiness Award (top 5% of schools eligible). A recent Dallas Morning News study showed that it was one of only 20 North Texas area schools that exceeds expectations for college readiness. That data was from 2009 and since then Woodrow has improved the percentage of its seniors going to college to 88% in 2010 and 90% in 2011.

    In March Woodrow was certified as an International Baccalaureate World School after a three-year process and extensive site visit. It is now in the second year of a four year redesign into four college preparatory academies: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship; Performing Arts and IB.

    J. L. Long was accepted as a candidate school for IB MYP and as such can now offer the Middle Years Programme curriculum (they also added Mandarin Chinese). Less than tw0 dozen public schools in Texas offer IB MYP. Long always places among the top teams in the state in TMSCA UIL science and math competition and once beat St. Mark's in Mathcounts.

    In the last reporting period, the Dallas Morning News showed a 16% rise in East Dallas home prices..

    Are you thinking maybe the TAKS rankings are a bit off? What any prospective East Dallas – Lakewood homebuyer should understand is that our area is much like a small town in the big city. We have students of all levels and of all backgrounds. An outstanding education is available for all.

    Woodrow and Long had to campaign for several years to get the deaf education program. It was sought not only because many thought it would be a good idea to keep the friends from Stonewall together through secondary schools but also because they add so much to our community. If you've ever seen Woodrow's Deaf "Choir" sign to the National Anthem, you know what I mean.

  • J. L. Long Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School also host the regional school for the deaf and also took a ratings hit.

    However, at the same time Woodrow was named one of the top schools in the nation by the Washington Post for AP participation. The year prior it was on the Newsweek list and received the ACT College Readiness Award (top 5% of schools eligible). A recent Dallas Morning News study showed that it was one of only 20 North Texas area schools that exceeds expectations for college readiness. That data was from 2009 and since then Woodrow has improved the percentage of its seniors going to college to 88% in 2010 and 90% in 2011.

    In March Woodrow was certified as an International Baccalaureate World School after a three-year process and extensive site visit. It is now in the second year of a four year redesign into four college preparatory academies: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship; Performing Arts and IB.

    J. L. Long was accepted as a candidate school for IB MYP and as such can now offer the Middle Years Programme curriculum (they also added Mandarin Chinese). Less than tw0 dozen public schools in Texas offer IB MYP. Long always places among the top teams in the state in TMSCA UIL science and math competition and once beat St. Mark's in Mathcounts.

    In the last reporting period, the Dallas Morning News showed a 16% rise in East Dallas home prices..

    Are you thinking maybe the TAKS rankings are a bit off? What any prospective East Dallas – Lakewood homebuyer should understand is that our area is much like a small town in the big city. We have students of all levels and of all backgrounds. An outstanding education is available for all.

    Woodrow and Long had to campaign for several years to get the deaf education program. It was sought not only because many thought it would be a good idea to keep the friends from Stonewall together through secondary schools but also because they add so much to our community. If you've ever seen Woodrow's Deaf "Choir" sign to the National Anthem, you know what I mean.

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