State releases preliminary school accountability grading system

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The state of Texas will be releasing preliminary grades for every school and district on Jan. 6, 2017, in accordance with a law set to go into effect August 2018.

The school accountability system will undergo changes as a result of the passing of House Bill 2804 by the 84th Legislature. Under the new guidelines, campuses and districts will receive a letter grade A-F based on five areas of performance, or “domains.” All five domains will be individually graded to generate a total grade for each school and district.

“As we embark on this change in our accountability system, we will continue to hold ourselves to a high standard as a District in assessing our performance,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Flores said. “Although we support and value campus and district accountability, we also believe that communities cannot assess the complexity of educating students by a single letter grade based mostly on a standardized assessment.”

The Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) release on Jan. 6 will include preliminary grades for all schools in Texas based on 2015-2016 test scores and 2014-2015 attendance data. All schools will receive four grades in areas defined by TEA.

The five performance areas being assessed include:

1. Student Achievement – Meeting standards at satisfactory and college readiness levels on State of Texas Assessment and Academic Readiness (STAAR).

2. Student Progress – STAAR annual improvement at satisfactory and college readiness levels.

3. Closing Performance Gaps – Reducing “academic achievement differentials” from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

4. Postsecondary Readiness – Academic attainments (other than STAAR) that differ by campus level, including dropout and graduation rates, Career and Technical Education (CTE) sequence completion, Advanced Placement (AP) course completion, Texas Success Initiative (TSI) benchmarks and more for high schools; attendance, dropout rates and high school, college and career preparatory instruction for middle schools; and attendance for elementary schools.

5. Community and Student Engagement – Self selected Community and Student Engagement categories.

The various domains are weighted as follows in the original HB 2804:

  • 55 percent of the A-F rating will be based on the first three domains, which are drawn from the results on STAAR exams and recognized substitutes for STAAR end-of-course tests.
  • 35 percent will be based on postsecondary readiness measures represented by Domain 4; cohort graduation rates (when applicable) account for 10 percent of the final rating.
  • 10 percent will be based on the locally determined engagement ratings in Domain 5.

While the preliminary system is finalized, the state of Texas will continue to utilize the current system where Round Rock ISD “met standard” at all of its schools and earned 115 distinctions.

“Our community is proud of our students and teachers, who work tirelessly to be shining stars in Central Texas and across the state,” Board President Diane M. Cox said. “We look forward to working with our elected officials to improve this preliminary system before it is finalized. We need to ensure the system is fair to all students and teachers, honoring their growth, while also addressing this misalignment of how we measure success.”

In response to the new law, the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees adopted its Texas Legislative Priorities on Dec. 15, 2016, to include opposition to the A-F accountability system. The District is asking legislators to “amend the A-F system for schools to ensure it is a meaningful measure of performance.”

 

RESOURCES

Superintendent Dr. Steve Flores Letter
House Bill 2804 visit the TEA website.
TEA A-F system resources website.
A-F Accountability
House Bill 2804 Implementation
A-F accountability system talking points[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_accordion active_section=”1″ title=”FAQs”][vc_tta_section title=”What is House Bill 2804 and A-F accountability system? ” tab_id=”1483631752508-087c6179-02cd”][vc_column_text]In 2015, the 84th Legislature passed House Bill 2804, changing the Texas school accountability system so that all campuses and districts receive one of five ratings from A-F.  Ratings are based on five areas of performance or “domains,” which are individually rated and then combined into a single overall rating.

Domains include: 1. Student Achievement, 2. Student Progress, 3. Closing Performance Gaps, 4. Postsecondary Readiness and 5. Community and Student Engagement.

The various domains are weighted as follows in the original HB 2804:

  • 55 percent of the A-F rating will be based on the first three domains, which are drawn from the results on STAAR exams and recognized substitutes for STAAR end-of-course tests.
  • 35 percent will be based on postsecondary readiness measures represented by Domain 4; cohort graduation rates (when applicable) account for 10 percent of the final rating.
  • 10 percent will be based on the locally determined engagement ratings in Domain 5.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”When will the A-F accountability system be fully implemented? ” tab_id=”1483631752575-80e78a01-c2ac”][vc_column_text]TEA is scheduled to fully implement the A-F system in the 2017-2018 school year.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Why is accountability important for public schools?” tab_id=”1483631958799-9be3bb31-6459″][vc_column_text]Round Rock ISD believes that public school accountability is important and we treat all of our reporting, compliance, and assessment responsibilities with the highest level of professionalism and responsibility. Parents and community members deserve to have information about how well schools and districts are doing with the responsibility of educating our children who will be the citizens and leaders of the future.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=” What are some of the strengths and weakness of the A-F accountability system?” tab_id=”1483632074774-e049a22f-84e8″][vc_column_text]It is incredibly challenging to develop an accountability system that interprets the complex work of public schools into ratings that are efficient and consistent, easy to understand, and fair.

Efficiency and consistency are the main strengths of an accountability system that is based on standardized assessments. STAAR administration is time consuming for students, teachers, and staff; however, more authentic forms of assessment (for example, essay exams in U.S. History) would require a phenomenal amount of time and public expense to train and compensate graders, and would extend the time needed to return test results to students and schools. Standardized assessment administration also ensures a level of consistency that is necessary for public accountability.
Another perceived strength of a letter rating system is that it is familiar to most adults. Ratings like A-F seem easy to understand.

However, any system that is largely based on standardized assessments will never fully account for all dimensions of student learning or for their readiness for college and career. Most standardized assessments are designed to rank students’ performance relative to each other and to produce a certain distribution of scores. By the structure of these assessments, some students will be more successful and others will be less successful. Students who are economically disadvantaged, in Special Education, or who are still learning English typically score lower than their more advantaged peers on standardized assessments, like STAAR. Schools with higher percentages of these students tend to have lower passing rates on these tests and, as a result, will have lower “grades” in the A-F system.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”How will Round Rock ISD respond?” tab_id=”1483632208950-9d90815b-36fc”][vc_column_text]Round Rock ISD is committed to its students, staff, and community. The District will continue to comply with all state accountability and assessment requirements out of respect for the legislative process and goal of providing the transparency that taxpayers deserve. The state accountability system provides important information about the relative performance of our students and schools, but it is only a partial reflection of the work we do and what our students learn each year.

We will continue to be guided by our Strategic Plan, which was developed by our community and approved by our Board of Trustees. We will strive everyday to provide learning experiences that are personalized to each student, to provide a safe and warm learning environment, to offer enriching and engaging learning opportunities, and to inspire and support creativity and innovation in our students and our teachers.

We also commit ourselves to authentically assessing student progress toward meeting our curricular standards rather than assess for the purpose of comparing students to their peers. We remain committed to finding new ways to communicate learning progress to our parents and our Board of Trustees so that as a District we can end the over-reliance on standardized tests as the primary measure of accountability.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Where can I find more information on House Bill 2804 or the A-F accountability system? ” tab_id=”1483632267149-82dde8a8-5251″][vc_column_text]For more information on House Bill 2804 visit the TEA website.

For more information on the A-F accountability system and videos explaining the domains, please visit the TEA A-F system resources website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row]