© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

How Are Texas Schools Performing? New Accountability Ratings Tell Us

Christopher C. Leonard

The state has released this year’s school accountability ratings under the agency’s new rating system, which show 84 percent of all individual campuses and charter schools "met standard."

The new school accountability system, which was passed by the Texas Legislature during the regular session earlier this year, was designed to make it easier for parents to understand how each school district and individual campuses measured up.

Each school district and individual campus are rated either "met standard" or "improvement required," a simple pass-fail designation, and each campus is then rated on three distinctions: Student progress, reading/ELA achievement and math achievement. A campus either meets a distinction or does not.

Over 1,100 school districts met the standard under the new system and 80 are in need of improvement.

TEA Commissioner Michael Williams said the individual campus designation ratings should help parents get a better idea about how their child's school is doing in the classroom.

"When you look at the 8,500 campuses across the state and realize that 3,600 of them received at least one distinction and about 759 received all three distinctions, that truly is a way for moms and dads and guardians to get a real sense about where their school that their youngster goes compares to others," he said.

Though there was some backlash about the simplicity of this new rating system when the legislature passed the bill, Williams said that it is more accurate than the old way of rating schools.

"Under the old system what we did is look at every sub-group across various disciplines and if one sub-group did not perform well then the entire class and/or district received academically under performing rating. And so they said there were 35 ways to fail -- it didn’t give them credit for what they were doing well," he said.

The new system also doesn’t solely rely upon standardized test scores to rate a school or district.

Some of the big changes ahead for this rating system will be in how the new reduced testing effort and 4x4 career-certified or college-ready plan fits into this system.

"We don’t have sufficient data today about certification -- to work for a certification. As that data comes in in years in the future, we can be able to add those," Williams said.