Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill into law that will drastically change an upcoming system that grades Texas schools and districts on their performance.
The Texas Legislature decided to switch to an A-F grading system from a pass-fail system in 2015. But school superintendents and teachers protested that original plan, which they said relied too heavily on standardized tests.
During this year's legislative session, House and Senate lawmakers struggled to come to a compromise. Under House Bill 22, which Abbott signed Wednesday, schools and districts will be graded A-F in three categories: student achievement, student progress and closing the gaps. The state will use standardized test scores to grade elementary and middle schools, and a range of additional factors, such as graduation rates, to grade high schools.
Schools that perform well will be able to petition Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to build their own accountability system, one that could make up a maximum of 50 percent of their overall grade.
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Districts will get their first set of grades in August 2018, and individual schools will get theirs in August 2019.
On Thursday, Abbott vetoed a separate piece of legislation, House Bill 61, that contained alternate provisions to reform the school rating system.
"Multiple provisions of House Bill 61 are based on the existing accountability system, which was overhauled by House Bill 22," Abbott said in the veto statement.
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The Senate and House negotiated a compromise on how to tweak a statewide plan for grading schools and districts. Educators and advocates are asking why the overhaul happened so late, without their official input. [Full story]
The Texas Senate approved a bill that would tweak a plan to grade school districts — well past a midnight deadline for passing legislation. [Full story]
Educators and advocates found it hard to concur on the Senate's version of House Bill 22, either finding it too restrictive and tied to standardized tests or not quite strict enough. [Full story]