Public schools in Texas would begin receiving grades on an A-through-F scale largely reflecting student academic performance on standardized tests under a bill that won preliminary approval in the state Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 6, authored by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, would replace the state's current system of rating schools as "exemplary" through "unacceptable" with the letter grade system. Taylor's bill passed on second reading 20 to 10. It is expected to pass on third reading. The grading would begin in the 2017-18 school year.
The legislation was the first item on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's education reform agenda, and was met with opposition from the Texas Parent Teachers Association. On Wednesday, Taylor was queried for nearly an hour by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, who voted against the legislation.
Taylor argued the system would bring transparency to an otherwise unclear rating system, and give parents a better understanding of how schools are doing.
"This is an opportunity for some parents to have more information," Taylor said. "Once people have those facts before them, a low rating school cannot hide behind a rating system that is not clear."
But West countered that the legislation would stigmatize minority and high-poverty schools, and that the legislation would not help struggling schools in Texas.
"We know what the problem is — let’s work on the problem as opposed to relabeling the problem,” West said.