Birdville ISD believes in a fair accountability system, one in which Texas students are served by a comprehensive community-based accountability system that looks beyond high-stakes, multiple-choice tests to meaningful assessments that have value for students, parents, and teachers; a system that measures what each community considers important in promoting college and career readiness.
But, a comprehensive community-based accountability system is not what parents and communities across the state are getting with the new A–F rating system. This new rating system will not reflect how well a school or district is educating students. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Beginning with the 2017–18 school year, the Texas commissioner of education will assign each public school district and campus with a rating in the form of an A–F letter grade to comply with House Bill 2804, passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015. Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of these new ratings. They may not accurately represent how well a school and district are performing.
Birdville ISD, along with school districts across the state, opposes this A–F rating system which is clouded by complicated rules and calculations rather than clear and concise data that everyone can understand. The legislature does not want a community-based accountability system. Instead, they want a rating system that appears to be simple, but in fact, includes five areas of focus (“domains”), each with its own set of criterion, and complicated data formulations that will not truly reflect the quality of a school or district.
Also, ratings will be based on a bell-type curve where 10 percent of the schools/districts receive an A, 35 percent receive a B, 40 percent receive a C, 10 percent receive a D (Needs Improvement), and five percent receive an F (Needs Improvement). If ratings are based on this type of curve, how will schools and districts ever be able to improve when 15 percent must always fail?
Here is what is currently known about A–F rating systems:
- A–F rating systems are based predominately on once-per-year standardized test scores;
- A–F rating systems have not worked in other states;
- To reduce the many measures of school and district performance to a single grade, A–F rating systems rely on pages upon pages of complicated rules and calculations;
- A–F systems fail to account for varying socioeconomic conditions that influence performance;
- Grades in an A–F system will align with wealth or poverty and likely punish poor schools for being poor;
- A–F rating systems provide no sense of what schools must do to improve; and
- A–F rating systems create false impressions about entire neighborhoods of children and shame
(Source: A–F Talking Points 2017, Texas Association of School Administrators)
In January 2017, TEA will release preliminary ratings based on 2016 data. It is important to remember, these are just sample ratings based on flawed data from the 2016 STAAR tests. The first official ratings are scheduled to be released August 15, 2018.
If you have questions on the complexity of the new A–F rating system, contact your elected officials in Austin. Ask them to explain the five domains and how ratings will be determined for each.