In a shift from the state’s existing school rating system, preliminary A-F grades for districts and individual campuses were released last month by the Texas Education Agency. The system change comes as a result of House Bill 2804 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015.
According to the TEA, the new rating system measures year-over-year district and student performance beyond student performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness standardized test. The new ratings system will officially be implemented in the 2017-18 academic year, reflecting district and student performance in the 2016-17 academic year.
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre decried the ratings and said FBISD would not change its methods based on the results of the new system.
“The grades are what they are,” he said. “We don’t think this is a good system.”
Grades are divided into four categories, or domains, with each domain measuring and grading a different set of data. In the future, a fifth category will use indicators chosen by the district from a set of options. FBISD Director of Accountability Megan Evans said the district intends to give feedback to the TEA on which indicators it plans to use for the category, known as Domain V.
“I think it’s important to note that these ratings are preliminary,” Evans said. “[TEA] have stressed pretty heavily in recent communication that the development of an accountability system is still in progress and will continue for the next year.”
TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said although the ratings used STAAR data from the 2015-16 school year—which was marred by computer glitches—students whose tests were compromised were removed from accountability and were not included in the calculations.
FBISD board of trustees President Kristin Tassin said trustees would ask legislators to work to reform the system. All FBISD-area representatives voted in favor of HB 2804.
“This policy aligns school accountability evaluations and allows parents to better understand their local school,” state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, said in a statement. “That is why this policy should serve as a wake-up call to parents and the community to help their local school improve on every level.”
State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, who also voted for the law said he thought the ratings would generate discussion in the Legislature.
“I think it’s too early to express any regrets or draw any conclusions from it,” he said.