I would not worry too much about the ratings that schools get. It all depends on the population/ demographics that a school has. I worked at 2 different middle schools, in a suburbian community, for 4 years, that had (at least)
"recognized" ratings. If they didn't have such high demographics - - with a fair amount of black and hispanic populations, they would probably be "exemplary". Most of the students, throughout the school passed all of their TAKS tests with an 80% or above, even in the focused demographic groups I mentioned before. However, often the rating is based on those focused demographics, rather than the over all population at the school. If there are even only a handful, from the focused demographics, that failed throughout the school, that can bring down the rating of the entire school. That's why a lot of inner-city schools have lower ratings. They have a lot more of the focused demographics to worry about, where the suburban schools have some as well (but not as many). Also, you know your child(ren). It's more about motivating them as individuals, then it is about what school they go to. Out of 60 students in one year, only 2 failed the Reading TAKS test (having to go to Summer School). Those 2 students were particularly hard to motivate. It seemed like nothing that I or their parents did made them understand how important it was to work harder. If you know how to motivate your student(s), then you should have nothing to worry about.