DEL VALLE, Texas (KXAN) — The Del Valle Independent School District Board of Trustees voted during its meeting Tuesday night to join a “coalition of school districts” across Texas suing the Texas Education Agency over changes to its accountability ratings system.

DVISD Superintendent Dr. Annette Tielle wrote in a letter sent to families and staff Wednesday morning the Board unanimously voted to join the lawsuit, which is aimed at halting TEA’s planned “refresh” of the Texas State Accountability System, the rating system that assigns letter grades to campuses and districts. KXAN has reached out to the TEA and will update this story when we receive a response.

Tielle said in the letter the district has “tirelessly worked to improve student outcomes, and we are so proud of the amazing progress we are making.”

“This pride is a reflection of the hard work from our teachers, staff, students, and families in making Del Valle’s growth a reality,” Tielle continued in the letter. “We are disappointed that the Texas Education Agency is using this change in the accountability system to paint a picture that public schools, including Del Valle ISD, are failing. While we are focusing on your children’s success, we are being pulled into a political agenda.”

The letter highlighted some of the changes to the new Accountability System:

  • There is a 28 point increase to the College and Career Readiness (CCMR) standard, which moves the goal post from 60 percent to 88 percent.
  • This increase retroactively applies to the graduated Class of 2022, changing this standard more than a year after they graduated.
  • The district rating has moved to a weighted system that is highly dependent on the high school’s CCMR score.
  • The test was fully redesigned, adding new question types, cross-curricular passages, and evidence-based writing.
  • The state moved to 100% online testing for all students.

According to the letter, a bipartisan group of 55 legislators joins the school districts in their concern over the changes. The group asked for a delay in implementing the new standards.

Tielle said she will be meeting with staff and parents over the next month, and she plans to share videos with a state accountability expert outlining the changes. She also said she would continue her “advocacy at the Capital testifying for the benefit of our students in Del Valle ISD.”

“I will be the first to say that there is still much more work to be done, but we are excited about the progress we have made as a district and are looking forward to the work ahead during this coming school year,” Tielle said in concluding the letter.

The district also sent a letter to parents and staff on Tuesday, Aug. 15 addressing changes to the Accountability System and highlighting the district’s concerns over those changes.

Citing reports from media outlets, the district said the changes to the rating calculations may “create the perception that public schools in Texas are not performing well, even if they are improving.”

Background: Accountability rating changes

In March, hundreds of school districts across the state sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency asking to delay the “A-F” Accountability Rating system changes.

Austin ISD was one of those districts, and it also posted about its concerns on its website.

AISD told KXAN back in May it was anticipating its secondary campus and district “A-F” letter grades will decline by one to two letters under the new TEA rules.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath told KXAN at that time the changes to the system should help improve the ability to recognize schools’ growth and “narrowing our focus on the most at risk kids, to close achievement gaps most effectively. We are updating our overall district rating methodology. We are creating a unique evaluation system.”

“As schools are improving, parents need to know then,” Morath said. “If they are not and they are regressing then parents need to know that as well.”

Del Valle ISD’s Aug. 15 letter said although individual student results would become available on Wednesday, TEA has not finalized how it is going to use the accountability system to rate campuses and districts. This will not take place until mid-September.

“Del Valle ISD is proactively communicating with families and staff, so that the DVISD community is prepared for the impact on our campuses. The district is committed to doing what is best for all students and we will continue standing up for all kids as these changes aim to hurt public schools across the state,” the Aug. 15 letter said. “Superintendent Annette Tielle and Accountability Ex. Director Ana Rush testified at the capitol on multiple occasions and advocated for a fair and equitable accountability system throughout last school year, and plan to continue this advocacy.”