Alvin, Friendswood ISDs ask legislators to repeal new A-F school accountability rating system

Alvin and Friendswood ISDs have submitted resolutions asking for A-F ratings to be repealed.

Alvin and Friendswood ISDs have submitted resolutions asking for A-F ratings to be repealed.

Following the release of preliminary accountability ratings from the Texas Education Agency, Alvin and Friendswood ISDs have each passed resolutions to be submitted to the state legislature urging the repeal of the new A-F accountability rating system.

The new rating system was approved by legislators in 2015 to rank districts and campuses on an A through F scale, similar to a report card. Although accountability grades will not impact school districts until the system goes into effect for the 2017-18 school year, the state released preliminary ratings for "informational purposes", according to the TEA.

Resolutions passed by AISD and FISD come as districts across the state have also called for the repeal of the rating system. The Texas High Performance Schools Consortium, which includes FISD as an associate member, submitted a laundry list of recommendations to state lawmakers that includes improving college and career readiness at public schools and repealing the rating system.

“We’re never afraid of accountability. If the state wants to give us a straight test and have our kids line up and take that test, we’ll be glad to line up with anybody,” AISD Superintendent Buck Gilcrease said at the district’s Jan. 10 board meeting. “Right now, this A through F system is the way it’s been created with the questionable statistics. It causes us, at some point to say, when you start to hurt the children, then the idea behind it has lost its meaning.”

FISD trustees echoed similar sentiments at its Jan. 9 meeting when it passed its resolution in support of repealing the new rating system. When presenting the resolution to the board, FISD administrators cited the system’s lack of clarity and transparency in rating each school.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath released a statement on Jan. 6, saying that the ratings were part of a work-in-progress model that "met legislative requirements" and "are likely to change before the A-F ratings become effective in August 2018."

"I do not give much credence to the A through F results," FISD Superintendent Trish Hanks said in response to Morath's statement.

Pearland ISD has remained neutral in its stance on the system though Superintendent John Kelly expressed some skepticism about the system’s accuracy.

“I hope this TEA trial leads state officials to hold onto the good while addressing weaknesses before releasing actual ratings in 2018,” Kelly said. “Accountability is necessary, and when done well, it can be highly encouraging for those who strive to be the best.”

The PISD board of trustees did not discuss the rating system at its recent meeting on Jan. 17.