Monday, November 30, 2020

Board of Trustees Call for Repeal of A-F Accountability Rating System

The Carroll ISD Board of Trustees recently called on the Texas Legislature to repeal the new A-F Accountability Rating System. The Board has spent weeks discussing the Legislative Priorities for Carroll ISD, and voted to add a resolution opposing the A-F system at their Jan. 23 Board Meeting.

As of January 24, the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), has confirmed that 396 Texas school districts have adopted similar resolutions. The system is set up on a bell curve so that 15 percent of the state’s public schools have no chance but to receive D and F scores. Overnight, campuses that Met Standards and even received Awards of Distinction under the current accountability system are now showing poor grade performance under the A-F system.

The Texas Education Agency recently released preliminary scores so that school districts could review and give feedback on the A-F system. School officials say they are not against accountability and closing performance gaps, but they want a system that accurately reflects the education students are receiving at their campus. Many educators in Texas say the A-F system relies too heavily on one state standardized test given on one particular day.

As one example of how the new system grades a campus, each elementary school receives a grade on post secondary readiness that is determined only by the students who are chronically absent from school. Equally as frustrating, high schools may not receive an A or B grade in post secondary readiness despite having a high percentage of students who score well on Advanced Placement, SAT and ACT tests. Campuses like Carroll Senior High could have their grade lowered to a C merely because they offer a variety of career and technology courses, but do not have three or more in a coherent sequence.

In their official resolution, the CISD School Board “calls on the Texas Legislature to repeal the rating system utilizing A through F grades for schools and districts and develop a community-based accountability system that empowers school districts to design their own internal systems of assessment and accountability that, while meeting general state standards, allows districts to innovate and customize curriculum and instruction to meet the needs and interests of each student and their communities.”

The Trustees also stated that “this new system should reduce the use of high-stakes, standardized tests, encompass multiple assessments, reflect greater validity, and, more accurately reflect what students know and can do in terms of the rigorous standards.”

House Bill (HB) 2804, passed by the 84th Texas Legislature (2015), requires changes to the state public school academic accountability system. The changes—in effect beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, with the first ratings to be issued in August 2018—include creating five domains of indicators that will be used to evaluate districts and campuses regarding three main goals: preparing students for postsecondary success, reducing achievement gaps among students from different racial and ethnic groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, and informing parent and the community about district and campus performance.

The bill also requires the assignment of A-F rating labels to describe district and campus performance. Districts and campuses will receive a ratings of A, B, C, D, or F in each of the five domains and for overall performance. The final model for the A-F Academic Accountability System will continue to be developed with additional input from stakeholders through the spring of 2018, when the final rules are adopted by TEA.