A resolution that calls for state legislators to repeal the planned A-through-F accountability system was approved by the Fort Worth school board Tuesday night by a 7-0 vote, a clear message that the board disapproves of the controversial system for rating schools and districts.
The Fort Worth school district joins more than 360 districts statewide that have adopted similar resolutions, including Arlington, Keller, Northwest, Southlake Carroll and Aledo. The Birdville school district is considering a similar action at its Thursday meeting.
Trustees Ann Sutherland and T.A. Sims were not present for the vote.
The new accountability system being developed by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath won’t be official until the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. Still, it received low marks from educators statewide with the recent release of a provisional report on the state’s more than 8,600 public schools that was drafted for state lawmakers.
Morath has emphasized that the report was not official and that the system is still being fine-tuned, but the wide range of grades for North Texas schools prompted questions about the system’s complicated formula. Critics say it relies too heavily on the results of State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, and doesn’t provide a holistic look at student learning.
The current accountability system gives campuses and districts one of two ratings: “met standard” or “improvement required.”
During the last legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 2804, which calls for the education commissioner to adopt rules to evaluate schools and districts and assign each a performance rating of letter grades.
The resolution also states that the grades create “a false impression” about students and schools.
Superintendent Kent Scribner stressed that with or without the resolution, the district is committed to improving student learning.
“Our staff will continue to strive to improve student outcomes,” he said.
The school board also approved a resolution honoring the late activist David Mack Henderson and naming the Western Hills field house after longtime educator and principal James Wellman, who died this month.
Henderson, 56, died in December after a battle with cancer. He helped found Fairness Fort Worth and had served as its president since 2013. An ally of LGBT youths, he was among supporters of transgender guidelines drafted by the Fort Worth district.
Wellman had served as principal of Western Hills High School since 2009.
“He wanted to speak in a way that people could truly understand the points he wanted to make,” said Henderson’s mother, Janet Henderson. “He didn’t want to offend people. He just wanted people to get it.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.