Aug 15, 2018 by

8.15.18 – Dallas Morning News

“Texas Releases New A – F Grades for Schools – See How Your District Rated”

By Eva-Marie Ayala, Staff Writer

Excerpts from this article:

Today the state unveiled its controversial new academic accountability system  [] that showed nearly half of North Texas school districts received an A or B grade.

Among nearly 160 school districts and charter operators in the area, 39 earned the top A grade including Highland Park, Coppell and Sunnyvale in Dallas County and Carroll, Grapevine-Colleyville and Hurst-Euless-Bedford in Tarrant County.

As expected, Dallas ISD received a B, with an overall score of 81. The surprise, though, was how it compared to schools ringing its southern border.

Over the years, DISD has struggled to keep students in its southern areas from transferring to neighboring districts. But according the accountability scores, DISD outperformed all of them.

Grand Prairie was the only B among the group, with an overall score of 80. Mesquite, Lancaster, Duncanville, Cedar Hill all were rated as C, while DeSoto and Ferris scored Ds. 

All but four Collin County districts earned an A. Lovejoy ISD had an overall score of 97, which tied with three other districts for the highest score. Farmersville and Blue Ridge earned Bs while Anna and Community earned Cs.

Meanwhile in Tarrant County, Fort Worth and Arlington were among those earning C.

The only F grades belonged to two charter operators: Legacy Preparatory and Trinity Environmental Academy, which faces closure by the state for multiple years of failing academic standards.

Individual campuses officially received the current ratings of met standard or improvement required. They won’t be rated under the new system until next year.

The grades are largely based on how well students perform on the state’s STAAR tests as well as graduation rates, how many students earn college credit and other indicators.

However, communities can deduce what those grades could have looked like this year as schools will receive an overall score on a 100-point system that is used to determine each letter grades.

As will be given to with an overall score of 90 to 100; Bs for those 80 to 89; Cs for those 70 to 79; Ds for those earning 60 to 69. Anything less is an F.

Had campus grades been issued this year, more than half of about 2,200 schools in North Texas would have earned the top two letter grades: 508 would get an A and 741 would have gotten earned a B. About 75 would be looking at a failing grade.

The state considers three major categories for the grades: student achievement (how well students performed on STAAR); school progress (how much improvement students made from one year to the next or how well they did in relation to comparable campuses); and closing the gaps (how well schools do educating kids in different subgroups, such as those living in poverty, enrolled special education or of various racial backgrounds).

Seventy percent of the grade is from student achievement or school progress — whichever is greater — while closing the gaps makes up 30 percent.

Statewide, of the 829 districts and charters rated, 153 earned an A and 356 earned a B. Only 16 earned an F.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said the new system makes it easier to highlight schools that are doing the best work with kids while identifying those that need improvement.

For example, he said had letter grades for campuses been issued this year, nearly 20 percent of high poverty schools would have earned an A compared to only 5 percent that would have received an F.

…Morath has said the state’s system is the most fair its ever been by giving schools credit for making progress and accounting for challenging students.

Supporters of letter grades for schools say the new system is more transparent and easier for the public to understand. Former education commissioner Michael Williams, who now is chairman for the Texas Aspires, said it will better drive policy to help improve schools quicker.

“Accurate and accessible school and district ratings provide actionable data for educators and the public alike,” he said in a statement…

Staff writer Corbett Smith contributed to this report.

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