The TEA Will Begin Grading Schools on A-F Scale, Just as Soon as Lawmakers Let It

The Texas Education Agency will go ahead with a new performance rating system, Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced on Tuesday. The new system will score schools on an A to F scale in hopes of closing the achievement gap between white and minority students.

"I have heard the criticism of the previous accountability system, with its overemphasis on a school's lowest performing areas and its blind spot to what a district or charter might be doing well," Williams said in a TEA press release. "The new system makes use of multiple indicators to provide parents and taxpayers a more detailed overview of the successes, as well as areas of necessary improvement, for each school district, charter and campus."

The new system also examines STAAR test scores, year-over-year improvement on the test, and college readiness of graduates. Those standards are broader than what's currently in place.

The new grading system comes over the objections of the TEA's own advisory boards, as the Texas Tribune reported earlier this month

H.D. Chambers, Alief Independent School District Superintendent and member of the policy advisory committee, told the Tribune he's worried the system would promote inaccurate assumptions, adding "In our opinion that wasn't the best way to create a label to the accountability system to communicate to our community about how our schools were doing."

The A-F rating system does have the support of House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, a Killeen Republican, and Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick, who already have some pretty interesting notions about public education.

"It's important to note that while the new system bases accountability on an index framework, the state will emphasize the importance of closing achievement gaps and addressing the needs of all students in Texas," Williams said. "Those districts and campuses that are leaders in improving achievement for all their students will be easily identified under this system."

Because the state is instituting a new standardized testing program, Texas schools didn't receive ratings for last year. A Senate-approved bill delaying school ratings for another year is now in the House, so there's a chance that no Texas schools will get graded this year either.

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Luke Darby
Contact: Luke Darby