Manor ISD joins districts against A-F rating; lawmaker offers alternative

FILE - Texas classroom (NEXSTAR File Photo)
FILE - Texas classroom (NEXSTAR File Photo)

MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — After the Texas Education Agency released preliminary data for schools and districts across the state using the new A-F public school accountability rating system, area school districts have responded by voicing their opposition of the assessment.

Manor Independent School District is now one of more than 100 districts against the grading system. The Manor ISD Board of Trustees has passed a resolution calling for the system to be repealed.

In a letter from the superintendent posted online, and distributed to parents, Dr. Royce Avery addresses questions and concerns about the A–F rating system. In a recorded video statement, Dr. Avery said the preliminary assessment “relies too heavily on standardized testing, it casts a negative light on many public schools, and will unfairly affect poor districts.” Dr. Avery continued, “A community-based accountability system will allow for greater innovation while meeting state standards.”

The 2015 Texas Legislature passed a bill that aims to change the public school accountability system to make it easier to understand how schools stack up by using the A-F grading scale. Schools are currently rated on a pass/fail system.

TEA officials said the recent release of the ratings are not the official grade for schools, but are a test run of the new system required by lawmakers in the bill.

Under the new rating system, which won’t go into effect and be used in Texas until August 2018, schools are evaluated based on their STAAR scores, how the poorest students are doing, attendance rates, and whether students are making progress from year to year.

The new ratings encompass five different domains. They are:

  • Domain I: Student Achievement
  • Domain II: Student Progress
  • Domain III: Closing Performance Gaps
  • Domain IV: Post-secondary Readiness
  • Domain V: Community & Student Engagement

“These preliminary results are based on incomplete data. Please note that the A through F system can easily change and should not be used to draw any definitive conclusions about Manor ISD,” said Dr. Avery. “Manor ISD believes strongly in school accountability. However, this system is not the best system for Manor ISD.”

Rep. Mary González, D–El Paso, may offer the solution schools are looking for. González filed the bill to repeal A through F, saying the state needs a fair assessment.

“Different schools are getting a different amount of money and then we’re saying all these schools have to get a certain grade level and it’s fair and equal. But, it’s not fair and equal,” said Rep. González. “It negatively labels our families and our schools and our students’ failures when they’re not failures. They may need help, I’m not going to say that they don’t. But, to label a kid a failure, based primarily on one test, is an unfair judgment of that kid, that teacher, and that community.”

González says her bill would simply change the language. “We’re still going to evaluate. We’re still going to know what’s going on, but the main important thing is we’re not going to label anyone a failure. We’re going to use language that’s appropriate for education.”

Instead of A-F, the bill would implement ratings characterized by ‘exemplary,’ ‘satisfactory,’ ‘acceptable,’ and ‘needs improvement.’

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the A through F system isn’t going anywhere. “If we can grade our students, and their futures are impacted by that, our schools should be under those same grades.”

Manor ISD’s superintendent has asked parents who have questions or concerns regarding the preliminary ratings to reach out to the district by emailing communications@manorisd.net.

For more information about the Manor Independent School District, visit their website here.

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