House panel approves scaling back A-F grading system for schools


School districts have said that the A-F system is vague and stigmatizes public schools.

The Senate and House education chairs have filed bills to reform the A-F system.

The House will next consider House Bill 22.

The House Public Education Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would scale back the way that the state plans to grade public school performance each year.

The panel unanimously approved House Bill 22 filed by committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, which would delay the implementation of the A-F accountability system and cut down the number of categories under which schools are graded.

“We don’t want districts being punished but we want them to have the opportunity to … achieve a better grade,” Huberty said during the committee hearing.

Approved in 2015, the system has garnered backlash from school district officials, who have said the system’s letter grades are vague, put too much emphasis on standardized test scores and are meant to stigmatize public schools.

The system is slated to go into effect in August 2018, but as required by the law, the Texas Education Agency released scores in January, based on test scores and other data measured in the 2015-16 school year. They were supposed to give school officials a taste of what’s to come but they prompted even more criticism.

READ: Texas A-F grades make low-income schools look worse, analysis shows

Under the current accountability system, the state simply states whether school districts and campuses meet requirements or not.

HB 22, which next goes to the House floor, would delay the implementation of the A-F system by a year and reduce the number of categories for which schools and districts would be graded, including how well they prepare students for college and careers, and how well they reduce the performance gap between low- and high-income students, two areas in which districts and campuses demonstrated lackluster results when preliminary scores were released earlier this year.

The bill also would eliminate assigning a single overall letter grade to each school district and campus. Instead, the bill would only give letter grades in each of the three categories.

State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood and the Senate education committee chairman, has also proposed Senate Bill 2051, similar to the House bill. With support from both chambers, Huberty said he believes the bill will pass this session.

Over the last two weeks, Huberty has added even more provisions to his bill to reduce any unfair penalties to school districts, including allowing the education commissioner to improve a grade under special circumstances and ensuring that grades factor in the demographics of the district and how that might impact student performance.

“I think this is a good piece of policy that starts us in the right direction to cleaning up accountability as best as we can,” said H.D. Chambers, the superintendent of the Alief school district in Houston. Chambers helped Huberty craft the bill.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Will Ted Cruz deal the final blow to GOP health care bill?
Will Ted Cruz deal the final blow to GOP health care bill?

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that he is not yet ready to vote for the last-ditch Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, jeopardizing the bill’s already slender chances of passage. “Right now they don’t have my vote, and I don’t think they have (Utah Sen.) Mike Lee’s either,” Cruz said at a joint appearance...
Here’s what’s funny about assuming commuters’ habits will change
Here’s what’s funny about assuming commuters’ habits will change

I’ll cut right to the punchline of a joke that I’ve always loved: “Let’s you and him get into a fight.” The speaker, of course, being the one who plans to emerge from the fracas unscathed and, presumably, rid of a looming threat in the person of “him.” That joke came to mind as I listened Saturday morning to...
Teaxs Digest: City Hall shooting suspect identified

NORTH TEXAS Police ID suspect in City Hall shooting Authorities have released the name of a 62-year-old man suspected of confronting officers at a tiny North Texas town’s City Hall with a rifle. Bobby Darryl Chamberlain of Josephine remains hospitalized with wounds that are not life-threatening, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public...
RIGHT NOW: Crash closes northbound I-35 near Riverside
RIGHT NOW: Crash closes northbound I-35 near Riverside

Austin police are asking drivers to avoid the area around Interstate 35 and Riverside Drive Sunday afternoon after a crash closed several northbound lanes of traffic. Police tweeted about the crash at 4:30 p.m. Sunday but did not have further details to provide. Officials have said only one northbound lane is currently open, and drivers are urged to...
WEATHER: Southwest Texas faces chance of flash flooding
WEATHER: Southwest Texas faces chance of flash flooding

Portions of Texas will see heavy rainfall leading to flash flooding from Monday afternoon through Thursday morning, with rainfall largely focused on the Rio Grande Plains and the southern Edwards Plateau along U.S. 183 according to the National Weather Service. The Austin area is expected to see about an inch of rain. Rainfall will most likely be heaviest...
More Stories