AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time, Texas school districts are getting report card-like grades during the Texas Education Agency’s annual ratings. While some districts in Central Texas pulled out As such as Dripping Springs ISD, Eanes ISD, Lake Travis ISD and Round Rock ISD — Del Valle and Manor ISDs received D grades.
The ratings were released Wednesday and can be found here.
KXAN reached out to the superintendents of districts who received C and D grades to find out what their plan of attack is moving forward.
“We’re going to stand up and say we’re not taking a D — that’s not good enough for us and that’s not going enough for me as a superintendent,” said Manor ISD Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery. “And so we have to push for more and do more and involve a few more people and community members to help us get there.”
He is moving additional resources to two campuses that received an “Improvement Required’ rating which include Presidential Meadows Elementary School and Manor Middle school.
Manor ISD is also launching a new principal mentoring program where leaders of their high performing campuses are taking the others under their wing.
Taylor ISD Superintendent Keith Brown says a C is not where they want to be, but pointed out their score of 79 was only one point shy of a B.
“We have employed a new chief academic officer and he’s out working with our staff to improve our instruction and get down to the data of the kids and address each of our weaknesses,” said Brown.
Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright just started with the district during the second semester of last school year and has been working on putting new systems in place.
“We’re training our teachers this summer we feel like if we have a core foundation in early literacy skills and our kids are able to read on level then this problem will take care of itself,” said Dr. Wright.
Each year, the TEA releases a report showing which schools met state education standards, based on five areas: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, post-secondary readiness and community and student engagement. This year, the state is narrowing those areas down to three: student achievement, student progress, and closing performance gaps.
Based on House Bill 22 during the 2017 legislative session, this year only districts will receive an A-F grade and schools will continue to receive a pass/fail grade of “met standard” or “needs improvement” for one more year. They will also receive a rating from 0-100.
Austin ISD received a “B” grade, while five schools in the district were marked as “Improvement Required.” Those schools are Mendez Middle School, Graduation Prep Academy Travis, Sadler Means YWLA, Rosedale and Widen Elementary. Mendez Middle School has now been marked on that list for four years in a row and this year the school will operate as an in-district charter run with the help of three partners to try to boost its performance. Last year only four schools were marked as needing improvement.
The TEA says the idea with the new grading system is to provide clearer feedback.
“Under a pass-fail system, you know if you passed or you know if you failed, but it wasn’t really clear otherwise, specifically, if work needed to be done with student performance, to help students grow, or if the district was really knocking it out of the park,” says Lauren Callahan, a Texas Education Agency spokesperson.
Last year, more than 95 percent of Texas school districts and about 89 percent of individual schools met education standards.