By Joe Southern
As a preemptive strike before Friday’s release of the “work in progress” A-F letter grade accountability report from the Texas Education Agency to the Texas Legislature, both the Fort Bend ISD and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) issued statements decrying fairness of the grading system.
“I regret that our state legislature has chosen to implement an A-F rating system that does not accurately represent the teaching and learning that occurs each day, nor recognizes the growth our students achieve toward reaching their full potential due to the work of our outstanding, dedicated teachers,” said FBISD Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre.
“Neither the current or future state accountability system will cause us to change our focus on meeting the needs of each unique student in FBISD. We know it is incumbent upon us to inspire and equip our students for futures beyond what they can imagine, and our mission is not changing,” Dupre said.
TASB Executive Director James B. Crow said the “A-F scale is a flawed concept.”
“The Texas Legislature’s requirement to grade schools on an A-F scale is a flawed concept, and the preliminary ratings released to the public today fail to provide meaningful information about schools,” he said. “These new A-F ratings are just a symptom of the larger sickness: an unhealthy fixation on standardized testing and standardized expectations.
“There are 1,028 school districts in Texas, and no two are exactly the same. Trying to apply the same accountability measures primarily based on one standardized test is a disservice to our kids, their families, and our educators. It’s time the armchair educators stop trying to find new ways to sell tests, test preparation, and test administration. It’s time to consider our students and schools as more than just a grade.”
The A-F accountability system is set to take effect in August of 2018. House Bill 2804, passed by the 84th Texas Legislature, changes the current accountability system from a four index system to a five domain system, with each campus and district receiving six A-F letter grades: one grade in five domains and an overall grade.
In a resolution calling for state legislators to repeal the new system, the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees noted that the majority (55 percent) of the A through F grades will be based on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR), a high-stakes, standardized test the board says does not accurately measure student learning. The preliminary report includes ratings in four of the five new domains, and no overall grades.
The report released Friday ranked schools and districts in four domains: Student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness (college or career).
FBISD scored a B for student achievement, an A for student progress, a C for closing performance gaps and a D for postsecondary readiness. Neighboring Lamar Consolidated ISD scored all Bs except for a D in postsecondary readiness. Houston ISD scored a C for student achievement, Bs for student progress and closing performance gaps, and a D for postsecondary readiness. Needville ISD scored a B for student achievement, Cs for student progress and closing performance gaps, and an A for postsecondary readiness.
Based on the report, FBISD has four schools earn straight-A’s, six make the A-B honor roll and three others with A-B but incomplete scoring.
Colony Meadows, Highlands and Walker Station elementary schools and Fort Settlement Middle School had all A’s. Brazos Bend and Carolyn and Vernon Madden elementaries and Sartatia Middle each had three A’s and a B. Commonwealth and Cornerstone elementaries each had A’s in everything but closing performance gaps, for which there were no grades.
Other schools with all A’s and B’s include Barrington Place and Oakland elementaries and Macario Garcia Middle School. Scanlan Oaks Elementary had two A’s and a B and no score for closing performance gaps.
The highest performing high school in the district was Clements with an A for student achievement, an B for student progress, an A for closing performance gaps and a C for postsecondary readiness.
The full report can be found at this link.