Commentary: Texas issues A-F grades for schools Aug. 15

On Aug. 15, the Texas Education Agency will issue report cards for our schools. We do this for two main reasons: First, parents should know how well our schools are performing, so they can better support their children; second, educators benefit from having clear information about school performance, highlighting successes and challenges, to help improve support for students over time.

This year, the report card system for our schools is changing. For the first time, school districts will receive a rating on an A-F scale. These ratings will be applied to schools themselves starting next year.

To help parents, educators and community members understand the A-F system, we have established a new website – – to share school report cards. The website brings together a wealth of information, making it available and understandable for parents.

ALSO READ: Tips to help kids prepare for school.

From my own experience with trying to select a public school in the Austin Independent School District, I know the challenges many parents face.

As the Texas commissioner of education, I had access to information from several sources. I collected data, took account of specific factors my family wanted in a school, and then developed different spreadsheets to try and make sense of it all. When I made a final decision, I asked myself: How is any parent – who is not the commissioner of education – expected to make similar decisions for their child?

That question played a significant role in the decisions we made for the online report card system.

These online report cards are designed to be useful tools for parents, educators and community members to see how a campus or school district is doing. The report spotlights specific strengths and challenges that can assure the needs of all students are met. Parents can search by district or school name and compare that district’s or school’s performance to others in their area.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Click this link to submit your thoughts.

I view parents and the community as important partners in a school’s success. That’s why we spent time listening to parents, educators and members of the community to make sure the new report cards were easy-to-use tools that provided meaningful information.

In addition, principals and district leaders can use this information to better support students and schools. Moving forward, year-to-year comparisons using A-F will make it easier to determine if a district or campus is getting better, performing about the same, or still has some work to do to improve.

School and district ratings are based on multiple measures, which include more than just test scores. The overall rating is calculated using the school’s score in three areas: student achievement, school progress, and closing the gaps. To help explain the system in basic terms, includes easy to read descriptions and tools describing just how the system works.

In addition, the Texas Education Agency has made available videos, audio podcasts and other resources to help explain the system, answer a variety of questions and provide clear information on all aspects of the system.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Viewpoints page brings the latest opinions to your feed.

Starting Aug. 15, I encourage all parents to spend a few moments to explore the abundant information that will be available about your child’s school and school district. And just as parents use a variety of information to assess their own child’s education, these school report cards – in conjunction with information available at the local level – should help inform how schools are working to meet the needs of every student in the community.

Morath is the state commissioner of education. To learn more about the A-F accountability system, visit

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Opinion

Letters to the editor: Aug. 20, 2018
Letters to the editor: Aug. 20, 2018

Re: Aug. 15 commentary, “Georgetown’s renewable energy push earns worldwide acclaim.” Kudos to Mayor Dale Ross for taking advantage of the available renewable power in Texas. Yes, for the city of about 70,000, it is doable — but it required future vision and willingness to move away from fossil fuels. It took years for Georgetown...
Commentary: The fix to Texas’s doctor shortage lies abroad
Commentary: The fix to Texas’s doctor shortage lies abroad

The Lone Star State is suffering a severe shortage of doctors. On a per-capita basis, Texas has fewer primary care physicians than all but three states. About 20,000 primary care doctors currently practice in Texas — but the state will need 6,000 more by 2030 to meet the needs of its growing population. Texas medical schools won’t be able...
Opinion: Partying like it’s 1998

And now for something completely similar. For a while, those of us who devoted a lot of time to understanding the Asian financial crisis two decades ago were wondering whether Turkey was going to stage a re-enactment. Sure enough, that’s what seems to be happening. Here’s the script: start with a country that, for whatever reason, became...
Commentary: The lessons learned from CodeNext’s death
Commentary: The lessons learned from CodeNext’s death

CodeNext may be dead, but it should not rest in peace. There is much to be learned from the failed CodeNext process. First, let’s acknowledge that CodeNext got some things right. The process started with a strong critique of the current development code, which is a mess. Austin’s development process is unpredictable and wasteful. It benefits...
Letters to the editor: Aug. 19, 2018
Letters to the editor: Aug. 19, 2018

Thanks, and congratulations, to retired admiral William H. McRaven and the other National Security officials who have spoken out about the decisions being made by the current administration. They, along with some journalists, business leaders, and a few members of Congress, are finally calling to task the current president for decisions that are destroying...
More Stories