State Politics

Texas senate expected to OK grading schools with A through F

Public schools in Texas would begin receiving grades on an A through F scale that would largely reflect student academic performance on standardized tests under a bill that won preliminary approval in the state Senate Monday. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, right, presented the proposal in a package of bills in Austin on March 3.
Public schools in Texas would begin receiving grades on an A through F scale that would largely reflect student academic performance on standardized tests under a bill that won preliminary approval in the state Senate Monday. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, right, presented the proposal in a package of bills in Austin on March 3. AP

Public schools in Texas would begin receiving grades on an A through F scale that would largely reflect student academic performance on standardized tests under a bill that won preliminary approval in the state Senate Monday.

Senate Bill 6, authored by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, would replace the state’s current system of rating schools as “exemplary” through “unacceptable” with the letter grade system. Taylor’s bill passed on second reading 20-10. It is expected to pass on third reading.

The grading would begin in the 2017-2018 school year.

The legislation was the first item on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s education reform agenda, and met with opposition from the Texas Parent Teacher Association. On Wednesday, Taylor was questioned for nearly an hour by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, who voted against the legislation.

Taylor argued the system would bring transparency to an otherwise unclear rating system, and give parents a better understanding of how schools are doing.

“This is an opportunity for some parents to have more information,” Taylor said. “Once people have those facts before them, a low rating school cannot hide behind a rating system that is not clear.”

But West countered that the legislation would stigmatize minority and high poverty schools, and that the legislation would not help struggling schools in Texas.

“We know what the problem is,” West said. “Let’s work on the problem as opposed to relabeling the problem.”

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