Fort Worth schools earned a “C” ranking and reduced the number of campuses listed as “improvement required” by the state from 14 to 11 — a sign that the 86,000-student district is moving in the “right direction,” said Superintendent Kent Scribner.
“We are on our way to becoming one of the highest performing urban districts in the state,” Scribner said Wednesday, adding that he is optimistic that the district is turning a corner in academic gains and accountability.
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More than 1,100 Texas school districts received A-F grades for the first time on Wednesday. The grades, released by the Texas Education Agency, are part of the new A-F Public School Accountability System and are based largely on the results of the 2018 STAAR tests, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, and the End-of-Course exams.
Student achievement, student progress and efforts to close achievement gaps are known as “domains” that are used to calculate the grades. The formula gives districts credit for college and career readiness, including students completing dual credit, earning associate degrees or industry certification.
Scribner stressed the district was on an upward trend. Four years ago, the school district had 24 schools listed as “improvement required” by the state. Among good news for the district were critical gains for John T. White elementary and Maude Logan schools, which had been listed as “improvement required” campuses for five and six years.
The two campuses were listed as ‘met standard’ this year.
“What we’re doing is working and we must stay the course,” Scribner said.
Scribner said the district’s results showed struggles in the middle and high schools so they will focus on those grades.
“We have more ‘A’ and ‘B’ schools than we have ‘D’ and ‘F’ schools,” Scribner said. “I’m optimistic that the momentum is taking us in the right direction.”
The A-F grading system was established and fine-tuned during the last two Texas legislative sessions. An “A” grade is the highest rating and ranges from 100 to 90. Grades 60 or lower are “Fs.”
Campuses also received letter grades, along with either “met standard” or “improvement required” designations. The latter reflects the designations used in the previous accountability system.
The campus letter grades are treated as “what if” campus ratings this year. Next year, the A-F accountability system is expected to be fully phased in so school districts and campuses will both get A-F grades.
Scribner said the state has indicated the district made some of the strongest gains in Texas among urban schools. This year, there are 10 campuses that are listed “met standard” and earned an “A,” including Tanglewood Elementary.
Tanglewood received the district’s highest campus score with a 95.
Scribner said the district’s year-to-year progress was the subject of a recent conversation between himself and Education Commissioner Mike Morath.
“We grew eight points from last year to this year,” Scribner said, adding that their efforts are not finished.
Although 75 percent of Fort Worth schools earned scores that reflect grades “A-C,” 11 schools were listed as needing improvement. Of those schools, five were high schools and five were middle schools.
Scribner said they will continue to focus on the middle school math and secondary programs that better prepare students for college and careers.
Many educators and parents question whether the rankings are a true reflection of what students are learning. The group, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, said in a statement that the grades are confusing and rely too much on high-stakes standardized tests.
The group said the new grade uses the same test data in four ways to calculate a letter grade.
“This system is designed to make parents angry at schools and districts when their fury should be directed at elected and appointed officials who pushed this system designed to shame public education,” TAMSA said in a statement.
The new system met resistance from educators during the 2016-17 school year, when the TEA released a “what if” report or “practice” run of the grade system. In 2017-18, about 600 school boards adopted resolutions opposing the rating system, according to the Texas Association of School Administrators.
Aledo, Arlington, Birdville and Fort Worth were among the dissenting school boards.
The TEA launched a online tools aimed at helping parents, educators and communities understand the ranking system. An online resource is available at TXschools.org.
Fort Worth schools that met standard with A rating
▪ Tanglewood Elementary
▪ Westpark Elementary
▪ North Hi Mount Elementary
▪ Texas Academy of Biomedical Science
▪ Young Women’s Leadership Academy
▪ Tarrant County College South/Fort Worth
▪ Marine Creek Collegiate High School
▪ World Languages Institute
▪ Bonne Brae Elementary
▪ Worth Heights Elementary