The superintendents of Region 10 Education Service Center represent 80 public school districts varying greatly in size, demographics and socioeconomic status. Each has individual strengths and needs when planning for the future. Together, superintendents agree on this focused set of priorities entering the 2017 Legislative Session. This document represents what we believe are the critical priorities that face our districts and stand to beneﬁt the 812,000 plus students we serve each and every day.
The A-F Accountability System, approved during the last legislative session by Texas lawmakers, should be REPEALED for the following reasons:
- The A-F system lacks the letter E, which stands for Evidence. There is no evidence that a rating system will help schools or improve them. There is, however, evidence from other states that supports the argument that schools receiving letter grades negatively impacts their schools. Oklahoma’s implementation of the A-F school grading system has shown no improvement in test scores and, in some cases, declines in student performance, particularly among low-income students. While the state of Florida cites gains under its A-F school grading law, an analysis indicates that the majority of the “gains” were due to changes in the rules in order to make the results match public expectation.1 The state of Virginia has already repealed its A-F grading law.
- An A-F system would be considered a failure if all schools achieved the highest marks and, as currently conceived, it would be impossible for every school or district in Texas to earn an A or a B. As a result, in order for the A-F system to be considered credible by its creators and some members of the general public, several Texas schools and, by extension, the students who attend them, will be publicly labeled and shamed as failures.
- Simplistic A–F rating systems provide no sense of what schools must do to improve. “Simple” letter grades based on a complicated system of calculations are neither transparent nor are they useful for improvement. As an example, airplane pilots don’t use a single gauge to fly; they use a multitude of assessments to make accurate decisions to ensure the safety of their passengers. By extension, a single letter grade for a school does not accurately assess the wide variety of factors that are unique to that school.
Labeling schools, and by extension, the communities that surround them, does nothing to improve them and will cause many to be labeled as failures. The A-F school rating system will do little more than exacerbate the false narrative that Texas public schools are failing. In addition, an A-F rating system misrepresents a large portion of what is actually happening in schools. Reducing a school to a single grade has the predictable effect of telling a school with a good grade that all is well and telling a school with a bad grade that all must change, even though neither can ever be accurate.2 In the end, A-F school ratings fail to offer the public useful or accurate information about their schools.
Source: 1&2 John Tanner, The A-F Accountability Mistake
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