The Texas Education Agency released its first round of school accountability ratings this month under the A through F grading system.
It did so to a flood of opposition from educators.
We don’t get it.
While no system is without flaws, we believe the new grading system is more consumer friendly than the prior system, which simply labeled schools as “met standard” or “improvement required,” with the possibilities of distinctions in certain areas.
The old system did little to convey to parents how a school was doing.
The old ratings themselves remind us of the pass/fail option for a class we took in college for one of two reasons: The class meant nothing to our major or we felt we would barely make it through with a passing grade. Is that how we want to position the accountability system for our schools?
Those who oppose the A through F grading system say, among other things, that the system oversimplifies an complex system of how the grades are calculated, mainly based on standardized test results.
They say the A through F system doesn’t capture the nuances of school environments or account for many of the success stories that happen in our schools every day.
Couldn’t we say the same for the grades students get in their classes at the end of a grading period or school year? Couldn’t we say the same of the system that simply graded schools as “met standard” or “improvement required”?
It’s hard to look at criticism of the A through F system and not see educators who are mostly worried about the optics of a school receiving an F.
The old system and the new system produce ratings for schools based on their success in three main categories: Student achievement in tested subjects; school progress - or improvements students make in measured subjects; and closing the gaps, which looks at the progress of students in groups broken out by things such as race or family income.
These are standard categories used by many states across the country.
If the measuring sticks that result in an A, B, C, D or F grade for a school are flawed, we suggest educators focus on improving those rather than criticizing ratings that convey more information for parents than the old pass/fail system.
The A through F grading has worked just fine for our students for decades. We don’t see why it’s not appropriate for our education systems as well.