Austin ISD considers how to measure equity gaps in academic achievement

Austin ISD trustee Noelita Lugo argues for breaking down student achievement measures by race in the district's 2021-2026 scorecard, rather than examining only economically disadvantaged students without racial groups. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee Noelita Lugo argues for breaking down student achievement measures by race in the district's 2021-2026 scorecard, rather than examining only economically disadvantaged students without racial groups. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin ISD trustee Noelita Lugo argues for breaking down student achievement measures by race in the district's 2021-2026 scorecard, rather than examining only economically disadvantaged students without racial groups. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees debated updating the tool they use to measure equity in student achievement, while examining the gaps revealed by the 2020-2021 set of metrics at their Dec. 2 information session.

The trustees examined the latest draft for the equity scorecard, which compares academic achievement for economically disadvantaged students and students of color to the overall student population.

While trustees are in agreement about overarching equity goals, they have not decided whether to include racial categories for certain goals or to look at outcomes for economically disadvantaged students only.

Standardized test scores

Trustees examined data from the current scorecard, which shows the percentage of students who met grade level expectations on a standardized reading test called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).



The data showed 46% of all Austin ISD students met grade expectations during the 2020-2021 school year, while only 23% of economically disadvantaged students met grade level. Of the students who are not considered economically disadvantaged, 63% met expectations.

During the same time frame, 24% of Black students met expectations and 18% of economically disadvantaged Black students reached the goal.

Of all Hispanic students, 28% met expectations and 19% of economically disadvantaged Hispanic students hit the same goal.

Deciding on measurements

“Teachers are not our problem. Teachers are our only solution” Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said. “If there’s any failure, it’s a failure on our part—my part—to ensure we have provided them the support they’ve needed.”

Trustee LaTisha Anderson said she was concerned that by breaking up economically disadvantaged students by race, certain groups might get fewer resources than others. Anderson argued the district might better serve economically disadvantaged students as a whole.

Trustee Noelita Lugo advocated for disaggregated data by race, arguing it is better to have more detailed information so the district can be, “straight up raw and honest about these gaps.” Lugo pointed out that the 2020 scorecard did include separated data for racial groups.

Next steps

District administration will create a new draft based on discussion during the Dec. 2 meeting. At the Nov. 11 meeting the board said it planned to vote on the scorecard in December, though trustees considered postponing the move at the Dec. 2 meeting.

By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.