A bill filed Thursday would scale back a new state grading system for school districts and campuses.
House Bill 22 filed by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston and the chairman of the House Public Education Committee, would change the A-F accountability system that school districts have criticized since it was proposed in 2015. The A-F system hasn’t gone into effect yet, but the state assigned letter grades to school districts and campuses in January that showed how they would have performed if the A-F accountability system were in use.
School district officials were unhappy, saying that the system — which will be implemented in August 2018 — unfairly penalizes schools with large numbers of low-income students. They also said that assigning letter grades stigmatizes public schools while providing little useful information to the public. Proponents said the system is a more transparent and comprehensive way of grading schools.
Among the changes the bill would make is push back implementation of the A-F system a year.
“TASA appreciates that Chairman Huberty is willing to work on the A-F accountability system and improve its flaws. We also applaud that HB 22 pushes back the implementation of A-F to 2019 to allow more time to develop a better accountability system,” said Casey McCreary with the Texas Association of School Administrators.
The bill would reduce the number of categories in which each campus and school district would be graded. The categories eliminated are ones that grade how well districts and campuses prepare students for careers and college and how well they reduce the performance gap between between low-income and higher-income students. Campuses and school districts would still be graded on overall student performance and progress and their “school climate” — how well they engage with students and the community.
Some parts of the eliminated categories would be integrated into existing ones.
Based on a preliminary review of the bill, Clay Robison with the Texas State Teachers Association said the bill still weighs heavily on standardized tests and will disproportionately hurt campuses with high numbers of poor kids.
“If Chairman Huberty is attempting to make A-F more acceptable to educators, I’m not sure he gets there,” Robison said.
The bill also would eliminate assigning an overall letter grade to each school district and campus. The bill would only give letter grades in each of the three categories. Currently, school districts and campuses receive an overall label that indicates whether they met state requirements for the year or if they need improvement.