Richardson ISD has joined multiple Texas school districts in a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency over changes made to the state’s accountability ratings system.

What’s happening?

The RISD board of trustees voted Sept. 14 to join the lawsuit against the TEA over a lack of transparency and failure to notify school districts in adequate advance about changes made to the way accountability ratings are calculated. School boards use the ratings as a metric to address educational priorities year to year, and many prospective families use them as a performance measure to gauge the quality of schools.

School district officials are saying that the new rating system would effectively lower A-F performance ratings for the 2022-23 school year in an unlawful manner by changing the way they are calculated retroactively. The lawsuit, which was originally filed by Kingsville ISD and six other small school districts, seeks to block the release of the new accountability ratings.

What parents need to know

The new ratings were scheduled to be released Sept. 28 based on adjusted criteria including but not limited to a new threshold for college, career and military readiness scores, raising it from 60% to 88% to earn an A rating.

The TEA announced Sept. 12 the scores will be delayed for about one month to allow for “further re-examination of the baseline data” used in the calculations, according to a news release.

What they’re saying

RISD Superintendent Tabitha Branum emphasized she is “not opposed” to increased standards in the rating system but said the TEA did not provide adequate notice of the changes.

“We believe in accountability. We want to be held accountable for growth in our students,” Branum said at the Sept. 14 meeting. “But I do believe that the accountability system should be something that is communicated in a transparent way and in a timely way that allows us to make the system adjustments that we need so we can meet the increased standards.”

Related highlights

Last week, Dallas ISD and Frisco ISD joined the lawsuit as well. DISD is the largest school district so far to have joined.

“The new state A-F refresh will be applied retroactively after the test has been taken and a new school year has already begun,” DISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said in a news release. “This does not reflect our district’s recent improvements, which currently outpace the state in many areas. Put simply, our test scores have gone up, but under the new system, our ratings are projected to decrease. This does not make sense.”