Two more North Texas school districts are adding their names to a lawsuit seeking to stop an update to the Texas Education Agency’s grading criteria for accountability ratings.
School board trustees in the Prosper and Red Oak independent school districts voted on Monday to join the suit, which accuses Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath of “unlawfully lowering A–F performance ratings for the 2022–2023 school year by retroactively changing the rules in a way that will arbitrarily lower performance ratings for many school districts and campuses even though their performance improved.”
Morath previously said the TEA revised how it calculates accountability scores to make sure schools continue to work towards improving student outcomes. The methodology had not been updated since 2017.
“Maintaining high expectations helps guide our efforts to improve student learning and support,” said Morath, per a press release. “The A-F system is designed to properly reflect how well our schools are meeting those high expectations, and the adjustments we are making this year will ensure it continues to serve as a tool for parents and educators to help our students.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Texas public schools have been struggling to overcome education deficits that emerged after the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many districts showed little improvement on last school year’s STAAR exams.
Enrollment at Texas public schools has been on the decline in recent years, with more and more parents opting for alternatives like private school and homeschooling. The enrollment trajectory has troubled local school officials, who fear that the updated rating criteria could lead to more students being pulled from public schools.
“I hate to say it because many of my neighbors are struggling more so to try to find teachers more than we are, but we’re also struggling and we’re a destination district. So just think about what this could do if [a] teacher then is deemed by the State of Texas as not being good enough because that’s in essence what they’re saying,” said Prosper ISD Superintendent Holly Ferguson, according to NBC 5 DFW.
Prosper ISD logged an on-time graduation rate of 99.4% for the 2021-2022 school year, with 66% of students scoring at grade level on their STAAR exams.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas ISD also recently joined the lawsuit.
According to the district’s accountability report, only 41% of Dallas students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams, and nearly 20% of its graduating Class of 2022 failed to earn a diploma in four years despite the hard work of its dedicated educators.