LEWISVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Education Agency has released letter grades for every public school district in the state, just as students across North Texas begin returning to classes for a new school year. But many North Texas districts were already criticizing the new rating system, even before the ratings were released.
Classes started in the Lewisville Independent School District on Wednesday, the same day that the TEA is released the list which grades Texas school districts based on standardized test scores. Lewisville ISD superintendent Dr. Kevin Rogers is among those education leaders who is speaking out against the ratings.
The TEA has explained that such ratings make it easier for parents and educators to understand how well their schools are performing. The agency plans to begin grading individual campuses starting next year. But not everyone is happy with the A-F grading system, which is being used for the first time.
Officials in the Lewisville ISD have already sent a letter home to parents that read, in part, “Texas students would be better served by a comprehensive community-based accountability system, which looks beyond high-stakes, multiple choice tests to meaningful assessments that have value for students, parents and teachers.”
Meanwhile, the Mesquite Independent School District is one of many districts that are so frustrated by the TEA’s plan that they are creating their own rating system. “What we need to be doing is to be having a serious conversation about how we get to excellence for all our children,” said Mesquite ISD superintendent David Vroonland, “not using a single measure.”
“What saddens me about the whole system is that, using tests as a measure of school district, that it doesn’t recognize the uniqueness of each student,” Vroonland added. The Mesquite ISD, and many other North Texas school districts, are calling the TEA system unfair.
However, TEA commissioner Mike Morath said that the A-F grades do, in fact, account for more than just the standardized test results. They include overall student achievement, school progress in meeting goals and the ability for schools to close educational gaps, Morath said.
Still, the Texas Association of School Administrators is calling for a repeal of the law behind the TEA’s grading system. “To think that one letter grade somehow accurately reflects the complex work of hundreds of teachers and thousands of students on one campus, let alone an entire district, is really an insult to their hard work,” TASA said.
Prior to this year, school districts and individual campuses were rated as “Met Standard” or “Improvement Required.”
The Mesquite ISD plans to begin its own school accountability program in the fall, in a pilot phase. The district will still get a grade from the TEA, but the also have its own take on school accountability, for parents and educators to look at alongside the state’s assessment.
See how your school district stacks up. Check out the TEA’s newly released letter grades. The Lewisville ISD received a ‘B’ rating while the Mesquite ISD got a ‘C’ rating. As for other large DFW districts, the Dallas Independent School District got a ‘B’ grade and the Fort Worth Independent School District was given a ‘C’ grade.