Twenty-one campuses in the Bryan and College Station school districts -- as well as more than 30 campuses around the Brazos Valley -- earned distinction designations for the 2015-16 school year in some or all performance areas set by the Texas Education Agency.
Bryan Collegiate High School and Mumford High School are the only campuses in the Brazos Valley to earn all eligible distinctions, while Milano is the lone district in eight area counties to earn a distinction for its district as a whole.
It is the fourth year for the Texas Accountability Rating System, in which the performance of school districts and individual campuses are rated in four areas -- student performance, student progress, postsecondary readiness and closing performance gaps.
The system -- which is based on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness program -- delivers ratings of "met standard" or "improvement required."
Districts and campuses that receive a "met standard" rating are eligible to earn distinction designations in seven areas: reading/English/language arts, math, science, social studies, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.
A performance rating for each area based on attendance rates, assessments and participation is assigned to each campus. Each school is then placed in a "unique comparison group" comprised of 40 Texas schools that are similar in grade levels served, size, percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners and mobility rate, according to the TEA.
A campus earns a distinction if it is in the top third of its comparison group for high schools and the top half for elementary and middle schools.
Nine of the 21 eligible campuses in the Bryan school district earned a total of 24 distinctions for the 2015-16 school year.
Bryan Collegiate High School swept all seven distinctions and is ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in its campus comparison group for student progress and closing performance gaps, respectively. Bryan High School received five distinctions, while Anson Jones Elementary School tied for the No. 2 spot for student progress in its comparison group.
Barbara Ybarra, associate superintendent for teaching and learning, said administrators "couldn't be more proud of our schools."
"[We] are thrilled that so many earned distinctions," she said. "It's a true reflection of their hard work and the amazing potential of our students."
In the College Station school district, 12 of the 16 eligible campuses earned a total of 37 distinctions -- three more than the previous year.
A&M Consolidated High School is the only campus within the district to receive six distinctions, failing to receive the closing performance gaps designation.
All but two of the 12 designated campuses ranked in the top five in each of their respective campus comparison groups for student progress. Molley Perry, executive director of special services, said this indicator reflects that students are showing progress year after year.
Although she said the distinctions reflect the hard work of the district's staff and students, it is not the main guideline the district uses to improve upon instruction for each school year.
"There's obviously a long delay in getting those results and being able to change instruction, but if we see patterns among certain content areas or certain grade levels, or a campus looks at their data, they might see instructional gaps and may want to do a better job of addressing certain standards," Perry said. "It really is much more helpful at that more broad level than it would be at the individual student level."
She said the TEA is working to put less of an emphasis on the STAAR program and is moving toward a "A" through "F" graded system for future accountability ratings.
"The commissioner indicated last month that he really hoped to develop a system where there are multiple pathways to success so that high-performing districts can get an A and lower-performing districts that were making good growth can also get an A," Perry said.
Across the Brazos Valley, 33 campuses in 19 districts received distinctions.
The Milano school district met seven out of 10 indicators. It was the only district in the Brazos Valley to earn a distinction for postsecondary readiness -- the only distinction a district as a whole can earn. Mumford High School earned all seven eligible distinctions, ranking No. 6 for student progress in its comparison group and tying for the No. 2 spot for closing performance gaps.
Mumford schools Superintendent Pete Bienski Jr. said he is "extremely proud" of the district's staff, school board and parents.
"I would like to thank our staff for their dedication and hard work," he said. "... They have high expectations and willingness to put in the extra effort to be successful. I also want to thank the parents and our outstanding school board for their support and cooperation."
Other notable campuses include Franklin Middle School, Milano High School and Caldwell High School. Each campus earned six of the seven eligible distinctions.