Reluctant House Panel Approves A-F Grades For Schools
A plan to give public schools A through F grades cleared a Texas House panel Tuesday night — but not without other changes in accountability standards reducing the role student assessments play in measuring public school performance.
A controversial plan to start assigning public schools A-through-F grades cleared a Texas House panel Tuesday night — but not without other changes to the state's accountability system that reduced the role student assessments play in measuring public school performance.
"I’m personally willing to swallow A-F if we get a better accountability system out of it,” said House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen.
The education panel heard testimony on Senate Bill 6, high-priority legislation from Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, that would replace the state's current system of rating schools as "met standard" or "needs improvement" to A-through-F grades. The bill has already passed the Senate.
But instead of approving SB 6 as a standalone measure, the committee folded it into House Bill 2804, which makes larger changes to the way the state evaluates schools.
The 7-4 vote came after a hearing during which many members of the education panel — Republicans and Democrats — expressed reservations about changing to letter grade ratings.
Calling the proposal "embarrassing" and "demoralizing" for teachers, state Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, questioned the effects such labels would have on communities.
Others said different terminology without broader reforms to the state's accountability system would do little good.
"I don't care what we call it if the accountability system is fair. It’s not fair right now," said state Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian.
Under the new bill, student performance on state standardized exams would remain the primary measure of school performance. But it would no longer be as dominant a factor in determining a school's accountability rating. About 45 percent of the rating would take into account a variety of additional information — such as community engagement, AP course enrollment, attendance and dropout rates.
Information about the authors
Quality journalism doesn't come free
Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue across the country are declining, The Texas Tribune remains committed to sustaining our mission: creating a more engaged and informed Texas with every story we cover, every event we convene and every newsletter we send. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on members to help keep our stories free and our events open to the public. Do you value our journalism? Show us with your support.Yes, I'll donate today