Shortly after the Texas Education Agency released the first set of district accountability ratings with the new A-F system Wednesday morning, TEA Commissioner of Education Mike Morath discussed the ratings at a Round Rock ISD middle school.
Morath said the A-F rating system was developed for two primary reasons: to inform parents about how their schools are performing and to provide information to help district and campus leaders.
“It is the most balanced system that we have ever had in Texas, and it should be a vehicle to help support continuous improvement,” Morath said.
The TEA previously rated school systems on a pass or fail basis. Morath said the A-F scale aims to provide more information about the performance of school districts and to identify areas of needed improvement.
“Over the last two years we engaged in broad stakeholder conversations with parents, teachers, students, superintendents, school board members, advocates in the community and business leaders to find out how exactly it is that we should be evaluating our schools,” Morath said. “We have resulted in a very multiple-nuanced, measured approach to how we look at school districts.”
The A-F system rates school districts in three primary areas: student achievement, which measures how much students know and end-of-year performance; school progress, which looks at student performance over time compared with other schools; and closing the gaps, which examines how different populations of students are performing in the district.
“This is all married together to create an overall rating for school districts, and that’s how the A-F system works,” Morath said. “It is a very fair system that provides a focus, incentive and reward for high levels of student achievement while also rewarding high levels of educator impact and ensuring that we maintain a focus on all of the students.”
When adopting the A-F system in 2017, the Texas Legislature chose a staggered implementation for the system, electing to only rate districts on the A-F school for the first year. Individual campuses are still rated on the old label system, which ranges from Met Standard to Improvement Required, but are additionally assigned scores on a scale of 0 to 100. Next year campuses will receive A-F ratings.
Morath said that the TEA adopted a strategic plan to support school systems across the state and has a set of initiatives that the Legislature authorized and funded to help support improvements for low-performing schools.
“We are trying to ensure that every school district, regardless of where they are, and every school, regardless of where they are, has a tool kit, a roadmap, resources that can be plugged in to help them wherever they are today to get stronger next year,” Morath said.
Some districts, such as Beaumont ISD, were not rated on the A-F scale because of Hurricane Harvey. These districts were, however, still given ratings on the 0 to 100-point scale.
You can view district and campus ratings on txschools.org.
Read more about local district ratings: