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New TEA Rating System: What Does It Mean To Be An "A" Student In An "F" School?

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte expressed her outrage and disappointment toward the Texas Education Agency commissioner and his re-vamped public schools rating system. 

Van De Putte said Education Commissioner Michael Williams’ reason for changing the school rating system from language of "acceptable or unacceptable" to a report card system of an "A through F" is an insult.

"The rating system is meaningless, and I took offense to the fact we need to make it simpler for our parents - that right now they don’t understand.  You know, that is very condescending that our parents are too dumb to understand the difference between a recognized school, a low-performing or an acceptable school," Van De Putte said.

She said that no matter what label the state uses, if the TEA continues to rely exclusively on "high-stakes" tests and doesn’t include any other measure, there will always be problems.

"If you don’t tell parents what’s behind whatever label that school is given then we are just playing games here, and I wasn’t going to be a part of it any longer," Van De Putte told fellow lawmakers on Thursday.

She said having this type of label for our schools not only hurts the school it hurts the student.

"What if you are an 'A,' top of the class student but you come from an 'F' school? What do you think your chances are of admission to a good university? So it labels the entire campus when really the rating systems only depend on "high-stakes" tests. We’re not even measuring the right things," Van De Putte said.

She said that she would really like to see an accountability system that talks about improvement and growth and provides parents with that information.  She said that for the most part, the schools that receive a "D" or "F" will be in low-income areas without the resources to change that grade.

Under current law, the state's education commissioner can make these types of accountability and school rating changes without legislature approval.