More than 200 school districts are protesting changes to the accountability rating system proposed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
For the past five years, public schools throughout the state have been scored on their student achievement and overall school progress with an A-F rating given by the TEA.
Now, the TEA is planning on instituting an “A-F Accountability Refresh” with the expressed purpose of refocusing “on goals that directly address post-pandemic student needs” and allowing Texas “to leverage lessons learned over the last five years to improve the rigor, transparency, and fairness of the accountability system.”
However, these proposed changes did not sit well with the school boards of nearly 250 districts. District representatives sent a joint letter to the TEA, Governor Greg Abbott, and the state Senate and House education committees on March 6 asking for these alterations to be reconsidered.
The letter was supported by more than 25 districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, including Dallas, Irving, Frisco, Denton, Plano, and Fort Worth Independent School Districts. An exhaustive list of co-signers can be found here.
Among the TEA’s proposed changes, the agency has suggested raising the cut score necessary for a high school to achieve an “A” in College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) from 60 to 88 — a nearly 47% increase. The TEA claims it is planning this change, in part, because too many schools have received an A rating in the CCMR domain.
However, the protesting school districts argue that raising this criterion so drastically in a single year will “create the misconception that high performing schools are drastically declining, even if their CCMR performance actually improved.”
Dallas ISD received an 89-point rating in CCMR for the 2021-22 school year. However, 15 individual high schools within the district received scores ranging from 60 to 87, meaning those schools would lose their “A” rating if this change was enacted and their numeric points remained the same.
The joint letter claims that the purpose of the A-F rating system is “to make it easier for the public to understand how schools are truly performing,” and, contrary to that purpose, this change will create a “false narrative that drives a wedge between schools and the families they serve.”
As the state legislature is currently in session, the school districts recommend House Bill 997 as a possible solution. The bill would create an Assessment and Accountability Commission to review the current accountability rating system and recommend improvements.
“The legislature has used the commission model with great success to address other complex issues over the past few sessions and should apply this same model to the A-F Accountability System,” the letter reads.
The districts claim that “moving forward with the planned refresh is irresponsible as it will cause significant confusion among the community, put increased pressure on teachers and other staff who are already at their breaking point, and wrest the policy decisions of how we should hold our schools accountable away from the elected representatives of the people leaving them in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.”
“We urge the TEA to pause its accountability refresh and allow the legislature to examine the system and make the policy determinations of what Texans expect from their schools, as they were elected to do,” the letter concludes.
The Dallas Express reached out to the TEA and several school districts in the metroplex for further comment but received no response by press time.