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TEA announces temporary delay of school accountability ratings amid ongoing lawsuit over grading system

(Photo: CBS Austin)
(Photo: CBS Austin)
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The fallout between several state school districts and the Texas Education Agency continues. On Tuesday the TEA announced that its delaying accountability ratings as a lawsuit over the grading system carries on.

This is all stemming from the education agency announcing they are changing the way schools are graded. Several school districts have filed a lawsuit over the changes and argue the new rating method will have adverse impacts. School leaders also say they weren’t notified of the guidelines in a timely fashion.

Texas schools will now have to wait another month to see their A through F accountability ratings issued by the Texas Education Agency. The report that evaluates districts, campuses, and student success was supposed to be released on September 28.

The TEA has decided to hold off on releasing the grades as they say, “extra time allows for an adjustment of growth goals.”

Dr. Rebecca Good is a 35-year recently retired educator who has worked as a teacher, principal, central office executive director, and school superintendent/CEO/Founder.

She says the decision may have come with good intentions but feels it will hinder schools in the long run.

“It's hard to get working on the work, when you don't have your data available,” she said.

Good believes schools should have a focused approach to identify areas of improvement and thinks the delay will prevent that from happening.

“There's a lot of work that goes around those ratings and having them delayed, especially when there's so much at stake. It's truly not fair,” Good said.

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Ovidia Molina is the president of the Texas State Teachers’ Association.

“This is just hurting our schools even more, instead of funding our schools and supporting our schools. Here is just one more thing, that's a gotcha, to ensure that we continue to say that our schools are not up to par. But the reason that they're not up to par is because our state continues to put us in that situation,” said Molina.

She says the new rating system is unfair as it changes the rules in the middle of the game.

“The problem is that the change is coming as the school year has already started. And the way that we heard of the change affecting us is that it's going to take into account scores of students that have graduated schools. So therefore we can't do anything to to sort of help make the scores better. So it's retroactive and punitive is the way we educator see it.” She said.”

On august 17th Pflugerville ISD joined Del Valle and other school districts that are suing TEA Commissioner Mike Morath over the performance rating changes. Kelsey Kling with the Texas American Federation of Teachers thinks TEA pumping the breaks speaks to the advocacy work being done that’s highlighting the negative impacts the policy will have on schools.

“I think it’s a very wise move by the agency. I think they wouldn't have announced the delay if they weren't reconsidering some of the ways in which those ratings were calculated,” said Kling.

The TEA says, “The postponement of ratings for approximately one month will allow for a further re-examination of the baseline data used in the calculation of Progress to ensure ratings reflect the most appropriate goals for students. The final ratings methodology will be posted once this analysis of the growth data is complete, and about two weeks later, A-F ratings will be issued for parents, educators, and the public to use to help Texas schools continue to improve.”

We reached out to the TEA for comment, and they directed us to a press release that was sent out. In that release commissioner Morath says, “Maintaining high expectations helps guide our efforts to improve student learning and support. The A-F system is designed to properly reflect how well our schools are meeting those high expectations, and the adjustments we are making this year will ensure it continues to serve as a tool for parents and educators to help our students.”

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