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Central Texas School Districts Concerned Over New Accountability Scale

Districts and schools throughout Texas got an idea of how they’ll be evaluated under the state’s new accountability system -- which goes into effect at the start of the 2018 school year -- and they're not pleased.

Currently, schools are evaluated on a pass/fail system. The incoming one, however, rates campuses on an A-F grade scale. The coming change is causing concern among administrators and superintendents. John Craft, Kileen Independent School District superintendent, said the new accountability system relies too much on test results.

“It labels campuses and districts arbitrarily without taking into consideration the holistic nature of these culminated, educational experiences," Craft said, in a room full of 28 other Central Texas superintendents and administrators who also oppose the new system.

The revamped accountability system was passed as HB 2804 during the 84th Legislature. Under the A-F grading system, schools -- according to the Texas Education Agency -- will be "issued grades based on five different areas of performance or 'domains.'" These grades are then calculated into an overall rating. 

The first domain measures a school's student achievement, while the second domain grades student progress. Domain 3 looks at closing gaps, and Domain 4 analyzes postsecondary readiness. 

The sample district and school grades TEA released this month were based on data from the previous school year, and were  - in part - determined by test scores and attendance. Under this system, Waco ISD --- which has previously met state standards – would now be given an F, C and two Ds for the same school year. In fact, many of the district’s campuses that met standards would now receive middling to below-average grades. You can look up how your district or school would be graded here

Waco ISD superintendent Bonny Cain says there has to be a more appropriate evaluation.

“As educators we believe in accountability, we believe in decision making that is data driven and we believe in continuous improvement. We also believe in fundamental fairness. We want to be well-represented by the grades given to us.”  

According to the Texas Association of School Administrators, more 160 Texas school districts adopted resolutions opposing the A-F rating system. 

In a press release, Texas commissioner of Education Mike Morath said no inferences about official district or campus performance should be drawn from these sample ratings, which represent a work-in-progress model that’s likely to change before being fully implemented.