Editorials

TEA explanation doesn’t really explain

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath meets with administrators of the South Texas Independent School District on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at the Medical Academy near Olmito, Texas. Morath was provided a tour of the school and a demonstration of one of the medical programs provided by the school.
Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath meets with administrators of the South Texas Independent School District on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at the Medical Academy near Olmito, Texas. Morath was provided a tour of the school and a demonstration of one of the medical programs provided by the school. AP

Texas Education Agency officials insist they haven’t done anything wrong, but their argument is muddy.

In a seven-page letter to the Education Department, TEA wrote that it never placed a cap on how many students receive special education, but the Houston Chronicle has reported an arbitrary 8.5 percent “indicator” for those students.

The TEA says the number is just used for “reporting purposes,” but also says it will not use that indicator “for the purposes of interventions staging moving forward.”

The Chronicle has reported that some districts felt pressured to keep their special ed numbers low to avoid ramifications from TEA.

The language used in the TEA’s convoluted Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System makes it sound like if a school district doesn’t meet that “indicator,” its performance rating will be lower.

To get the best score, the share of students receiving special education needs to be 8.5 percent or less.

Alhough an individual district’s overall score is way more complicated, it’s easy to see the problem with the special education “indicator.”

The TEA intends to clarify with a letter to schools.

We hope so.

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