The New TEA Accountability System for Schools Gets an F
The Lake Dallas Independent School District as well as many schools in Texas got their first taste of the new school accountability rating system recently which grades schools on a scale of A-F. This new system, which was touted to simplify the process, has caused an uproar across the state by schools that feel the grades simply don’t reflect an accurate overall score for their school.
The 84th Legislature passed HB2804, changing the Texas school accountability system so that each campus would be graded on five “subjects” known as domains. Those grades were then combined for an overall GPA of the school. The domains are
Domain 1: Student Achievement
In alignment with the 60X30TX plan, 60% of Texans aged 25-34 should possess some form of post-secondary credential. In order to keep with this plan, an “A” rating in Domain I requires that 60% of students taking the STAAR exam score at a Postsecondary ready level or higher.
Advantage: This rates all of the students on the same level with the STARR exam.
Disadvantage: This only accounts for one test and not the overall school experience.
Domain 2: Student Progress
Domain II measures each student’s scale score on STARR this year versus last year. Students who maintain the same level of proficiency as the year before are designated as having met expected growth. Those who gain a proficiency level are designated as having accelerated growth. Schools get one point for expected growth and two points for accelerated growth with zero points for below expected. Scores for this domain are then tallied for each student.
Advantage: This rates all the students on the same level with the STARR exam.
Disadvantage: Again this doesn’t take into account overall progress – just one test. This only rates math and reading exams because they are the only ones that are tested every year.
Domain 3: Closing the Gaps
This domain examines how well each campus is doing in terms of student achievement for their economically disadvantaged students. For schools without these students they don’t receive a grade but for those with students that make up a small percentage of the school, it leverages roughly 20% of a school’s grade on a very small percentage of the student body.
Advantage: If your school is primarily low income, there is a greater chance for a better grade simply by virtue of the number of students. If your school has no economically disadvantaged students, this doesn’t affect your score.
Disadvantage: If your school is not primarily low income, 20% of your grade is based on a performance of a very small percentage of students. i.e. At one local school, 20% of the school’s grade will be based on the scores on 43 students out of a possible 600. So the state is telling them that they need to focus 20% of their resources on 43 students?
Domain 4: Postsecondary Readiness
35% of the school’s grade is dependent upon this domain, which is basically the attendance and dropout rates. At the elementary and middle school levels this will take into account chronic absenteeism. At the high schools, it will take into account attendance, dropout rates and graduation rate. It will also examine the percentage of students who graduate ready for college, industry credential or appropriate CTE course or the military.
Advantage: It gives schools more incentive to work toward less absenteeism and dropout rates.
Disadvantage: For schools (elementary, intermediate and middle) that allow students a week off for vacations or mission trips, it works to their disadvantage. Schools have to have a 98% attendance to get an A.
Domain 5: Parent and Student Engagement
This section will rate community and student engagement but final measures have not been determined by TEA.
Schools in the area were given a preliminary look at what their scores would be. Because of the problems with the STARR test this year, schools were not able to get an accurate overall rating, and these ratings are not counted against the school district.
Here are the LDISD scores:
Domain 1: Student Achievement: B
Domain 2: Student Progress B
Domain 3: Closing Performance Gaps C
Domain 4: Postsecondary Readiness B
Domain 5: (not used for current test)
Currently, Lake Dallas ISD is rated as “met standard” by the TEA accountability system, though the district consistently exceeds the state average in all subjects in all grade levels.
The Lake Dallas ISD School Board has issued a resolution calling on the Texas legislature to repeal the A-F rating system. According to the Texas Association of School Administrators, over 150 school districts across the state have asked the legislature to repeal this new accountability rating system.
“The A-F State Accountability System has been designed to reflect the quality of a school based on one state test,” said Dr. Gayle Stinson, LDISD Superintendent. “We do not embrace or recognize a rating or ranking of our schools based on this narrow of an indicator or a single day performance of our students.”
A-F ratings systems can also negatively impact neighborhoods and property values, affecting residents whether or not they have children in schools. Though this was only a preliminary rating, educators are hoping the system is revamped before the ratings count beginning in August of 2018.
“Our schools are so much more than one test and our students are so much more than one score,” said Stinson.
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