After statewide school boards and administrators called for a complete repeal of Texas’ original A-F accountability rating system, legislators approved House Bill 22, creating a revised version late in the Legislature’s special session, which ended Aug. 15.
The revision reduces the number of domains rated with a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F from five to three, and requires State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, scores to account for less than 50 percent of accountability metrics at the high school level, said Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood.
“Rather than repeal the A-F system, or leave it as-is, the Legislature worked to revise the system to improve it before it ever took effect,” said Taylor, who is the chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
The original system—passed by the Legislature in 2015—rated five domains: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, postsecondary readiness, and community and student engagement. The revamped system measures student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps.
Conroe ISD board President Melanie Bush said she felt the original version did not accurately reflect what students were capable of achieving.
“The new A-F system allows for a more accurate representation of campus performance, especially at the elementary level with the elimination of the postsecondary measure that focused on attendance,” she said.
The system was to be implemented in the 2017-18 school year. However, the revision has pushed the rollout back by a year, Taylor said. Districts will receive ratings in August 2018, and schools will receive ratings in August 2019.
Another major difference provided by HB 22 allows school districts to develop their own local accountability systems, Taylor said. These are to be used in conjunction with the state-mandated domains, and districts will be able to rate their own campuses, he said.
Once an accountability plan is approved by the Texas Education Agency, districts and charter schools can develop additional domains and indicators. Each campus will receive an overall letter grade of A-F.
While the original system was met with negative feedback from local school districts, legislators did not want to rid the state of a rating system altogether, Taylor said.
Bush, who was opposed to the original system, said she believes this plan gives districts more freedom and felt district officials were given enough time to provide input for the new system.
“It allows districts to develop plans to locally evaluate their campuses,” she said. “The [local accountability] plan must be approved by TEA, but this could help with having more local say in what weight standardized tests play.”