The state wants to change how school districts are measured next school year, but some districts want to go in a different direction, including Godley ISD.
During its board meeting on Dec. 19, the board passed a resolution in opposition of the new accountability system.
House Bill 2804 passed during the 84th Texas Legislature session and requires changes to the state public school academic accountability system.
The changes — in effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year, with the first ratings to be issued August 2018 — include creating five domains of indicators that will be used to evaluate districts and campuses regarding three main goals:
• Preparing students for postsecondary success.
• Reducing achievement gaps among students from different racial and ethnic groups and socioeconomic backgrounds.
• Informing parents and the community about district and campus performance.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the bill also requires the assignment of A-F labels to describe campus performance. Districts and campuses will earn a rating of A, B, C, D or F in each of the five domains and for overall performance.
Under the state’s current system, school districts and individual campuses either receive the “met standard” rating, or the “improvement required” rating. The system looks at four different areas of student success: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.
According to the resolution passed by GISD, despite A-F systems being implemented in 16 other states, there is no evidence these systems have helped to improve student or school performance.
The disctrict points out the majority of the grades assigned by the A-F rating system will be based on students’ scores on the STAAR test, a standardized test viewed as “unreliable for accurately measuring student learning,” and that an overwhelming majority of Texans recently surveyed by the State Board of Education have said they don’t want standardized test scores to serve as the primary basis for Texas’ school accountability system.
“Test scores don’t need to be the only factor,” board member Marissa Abbott said. “We believe in local control, and the Godley community wants to create a broad measure of student and school success focused on continuous improvement that takes into account many measures of progress, such as high school graduation rates, certifications earned and service learning.”
According to the resolution, the A-F system requires a complex set of rules and calculations to combine a multitude of disparate measures into a single, “simple” letter grade that can’t be supported with explanation, are useless for providing feedback that could be used for improvement and usually align with the wealth or poverty of the students in school.
“Reducing the quality of the school to a single mark will always be misleading given the complexity of educating students,” Superintendent Rich Dear said.
Instead of the A-F rating system, GISD officials said districts can develop a community-based accountability system that “empowers districts to design their own systems of assessment and accountability that, while meeting general state standards, allows innovative and customization to match the needs and interests of the local community.”
Board member Terrie Goodloe said the board feels the Godley community is better qualified to make decisions about its students than legislators down in Austin.
In 2013, a large group of GISD stakeholders including students, staff, parents and community members, met to develop the GISD Strategic Design plan.
The advisory group considered the district’s mission, vision and desired learner outcomes, and reflected on the limitations of the state accountability system to effectively measure achievement of the GISD graduate profile. During this process, the advisory group was also asked to identify potential indicators of success toward achievement of the graduate profile.
“A Community-Based Accountability Report is a true reflection of how the school district is doing in the areas most important and highly valued in our community,” Dear said.
The district believes strongly in accountability, Dear said, but accountability based on community values for the right purpose.
“We cannot support a system that relies on one-shot testing, perpetuates a myth of objectivity and punishes students and teachers based on false conclusions about student success,” Dear said.
Cleburne ISD Communications Director Lisa Magers said district administrators and trustees across the state have been expressing concerns regarding the new accountability rating system.
“Cleburne trustees have been provided with information on this new rating system and are aware of efforts by a growing number of school boards that have passed resolutions reflecting concerns of its implementation,” Magers said.
Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer Tommy Brown said the board will discuss the issue when they return from Christmas break about whether or not it’s something they would be interested in doing.
For more information about the A-F rating system, visit tea.texas.gov. Joshua, Rio Vista, Grandview, Keene and Burleson ISDs could not be reached for comment.