College Station ISD leader says new TEA ratings system needs overhaul

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX)- Public schools across Texas have gotten preliminary A to F grades under a still-being-overhauled academic accountability system.

But education groups and school districts including College Station ISD say the incomplete results already show the new scale stigmatizes classrooms in poor and heavily minority areas.

Click here to see the scores for your school district

The Texas Education Agency released grades for more than 1,000 school districts Friday. There were four categories: student achievement, student progress, college readiness and closing achievement gaps between minority students and whites.

But the agency didn't provide overall grades because results weren't ready for a fifth category measuring "community and student engagement."

Education Commissioner Mike Morath cautioned that the grades weren't official and wouldn't be until August 2018.

The initial results nonetheless reverberated statewide. Critics say that issuing failing grades is unfair to schools in economically challenged or heavily minority parts of Texas.

“The realities of what is going on in schools in CSISD, and at other schools across our region and throughout the state, do not match with how the ratings are assigned,” CSISD Superintendent Dr. Clark Ealy said.

For example, CSISD high school students significantly outperform their peers across the state and nation on college entrance exams and produced 20 National Merit Semifinalists this school year alone. Also, CSISD is one of 22 districts in Texas to be recognized as an Advanced Placement Honor Roll District, yet both of CSISD’s comprehensive high schools were assigned a D in the post-secondary readiness domain.

Prior to the receipt of these “what-if” ratings, the CSISD Board of Trustees passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the A-F Accountability System, because they believe the quality of education students receive in CSISD cannot be summed up by a letter grade.

“The accountability ratings assigned by the state reflect a zero-sum game,” CSISD Board of Trustees President Dr. Valerie Jochen said. “When you look at the distributions of ratings, it becomes apparent that the system is setup to ensure a certain number of schools and districts fail, and unfortunately, often times those schools come from higher poverty areas. A more valid system would allow the opportunity for all schools and students to perform at the highest levels.”

“We will continue to emphasize our Community Based Accountability System, which demonstrates a more comprehensive overview of student performance and actually reflects the expectations of our community and families,” Ealy added.

The CSISD Community Based Accountability System can be found online at csisd.org.