High scores don’t stop CCISD criticism of new rating system
A new state accountability system has given Clear Creek ISD an “A,” or a score of 92 out of 100, but that hasn’t stopped the district from calling for changes in how schools are rated.
The Texas Education Agency released its accountability ratings Aug. 15, which assigned nonexempted Texas school districts a letter grade for the 2017-18 school year. In a statement released the day the ratings were announced, Clear Creek ISD said better scoring methods are needed.
“Our board feels strongly that the A-F rating system further stigmatizes a community, shames students based on their ZIP code and fails to honor the work of educators in hard-to-teach areas of our state,” Clear Creek board president Page Rander said in a press release. “Texas can do better by its communities.”
The board and Superintendent Greg Smith want the Legislature to follow the district’s lead in creating “a comprehensive community-based accountability system that measures learning beyond State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness,” the release said.
For four years, the district has issued a “Community-based Accountability Report” that measures its performance in areas the public has determined to be characteristics of a quality public education system,” the release said.
Such factors include quality of the teaching staff, strength of curriculum and courses, level of student engagement in the arts and athletics, high performance on college entrance exams and career readiness, according to the release.
Through the new state system, individual public school campuses in Texas were given unofficial number scores this year and will get letter grades in the new system in 2019. Campuses were scored on a 0 through 100 scale, similar to grade-school scoring systems.
Of Clear Creek ISD’s 44 campuses, seven scored below 80. Those schools include GH Whitcomb, Hyde and Margaret McWhirter elementary schools, Brookside, Clear Creek and Space Center intermediate schools and Clear View High School. None scored below the mid-70s, and all district campuses reached or exceeded the designation of “meet standard.”
The letter grade system is a new approach for the state education agency that stems from a 2017 law. It been met with strong protests from district officials around the state who say the scores rely too heavily on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing results..
Officials said letter grades are more of a reflection of the socioeconomic situation of a district’s students and the community than a true metric of how well students are learning.
TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said the new grading formulas address concerns about economically disadvantaged students by taking the highest of three metrics, including one comparing academic performance relative to poverty rates, to combine with a measure tied to closing achievement gaps between different demographic groups. Those two measures are used calculate schools and districts scale scores that range from zero to 100.
Dax Gonzalez, governmental relations division director for the Texas Association of School Boards, said other measures of the rating data show a “pretty significant drop” in scale scores for schools that serve higher rates of economically disadvantaged students.
Scores were based on: student achievement, school progress and closing gaps in achievement by different student groups.
In Clear Creek ISD, total enrollment was 42,008 in 2017-18 school year, with 29 percent of students classified as economically disadvantaged, according to txschools.org, a website hosted by Texas Education Agency to provide scoring data to the public.