Add Fort Worth to the list of school districts considering giving a thumbs down to the state’s planned A through F accountability system.
On Tuesday, the Fort Worth school board will vote on a resolution that calls for the Texas Legislature to repeal an A-F accountability system that is being developed by the state’s commissioner of education. The item was placed for consideration at the request of Trustee Ann Sutherland.
“It is not a system that will help evaluate the quality of individual schools,” Sutherland said.
The Texas Association of School Administrators says 327 school districts statewide have approved similar resolutions, including Arlington and Keller, both of which passed resolutions on Thursday.
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While that system won’t be official until the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, it received low marks from educators statewide with the recent release of a provisional report. The provisional — or “what if” — report on the state’s more than 8,600 public schools was drafted for state lawmakers.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath that emphasized the report was not official and that the system is still in development, but the wide range of grades for North Texas schools left many educators livid.
The current accountability system gives campuses and districts one of two ratings: “met standard” or “improvement required.”
But during the last legislative session, state 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 — A, B, C, D or F.
While advocates argue that the A-F system is more traditional and easier for students and parents to understand, others contend that the system is not fair and that poverty plays a bigger role than performance in determining grades. School leaders across the state have penned essays, blogs and held news conferences to explain their concerns.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently told The Texas Tribune that A-F ratings are here to stay.
“I think those letter grades reflect what we have been hearing for years — the kids aren’t ready,” Patrick said in a Texas Tribune video when questioned about the provisional report.
The resolution being reviewed by Fort Worth school leaders is formatted on a template from the school administrators group. It states that 55 percent of the A-F grades are based on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR , and that “does not accurately measure student learning.”
The resolution also states that the grades create “a false impression” about students and schools — an issue Sutherland is also concerned about.
“The implication is that one school is better, when in fact in every school, there is a range of successes to a range of failures,” Sutherland said.
Arlington School Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos has criticized the system because it relies heavily on the results of STAAR tests, which only offer a slice of a student or campus total learning.
“It really doesn’t do it justice to try to boil it down to a letter grade built on an assessment taken on a certain time of the year,” Cavazos told the Star-Telegram this month.
Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association, said its members hope more schools will approve similar resolutions.
“We are hoping that they scrap it altogether,” Poole said.
“It doesn’t capture what is really going on in our schools,” Poole said, adding: “Just like an A through F doesn’t define our students, it doesn’t define our schools.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
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