The Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution in opposition of the new A-F rating system of schools in Texas because they think it creates a false impression about students, ignores the unique strengths of each school and unfairly reduces each student’s worth to the school’s assigned grade.
“Quite frankly our children, staff and community deserve a better accountability system that provides a balanced report card and not some arbitrary rating system that you cannot explain,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith said.
The A-F rating system relies heavily, 55 percent, on the results from students’ State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) performance, which is a one-day snapshot of an academic portrait.
“When I see a single letter grade based on more than 50 percent of a test with lagging indicators, that is wrong,” Board President Dr. Laura DuPont said. “How does this letter show what’s going on in these schools?”
There is also mounting evidence the tests are not valid assessments of what students have mastered, trustees said. “The reading sections are supposed to measure comprehension of passages,” Bailey Buchanan, an Advanced Placement English Language Arts student from Clear Brook High School, said. “But really it is just a game of trying to guess the answers from clues.” Buchanan and her peers are urging legislators to ditch STAAR for nationally-recognized and valid assessments.
At least 16 states have implemented similar A-F rating systems and, to date, there is no definitive research that suggests these ratings have improved student or school performance.
“To me, reducing a child to a single letter grade is one of the biggest failings of the A-F system,” Board member Win Weber said. “I believe sincerely, when you put anything less than an A on the school house door that every child who walks in that door is going to identify with that letter grade and believe he can never do better and isn’t worth more than the grade on the door.”
The approved board resolution calls on the legislature to repeal the rating system and develop an accountability system that empowers school districts to improve. “We embrace meaningful accountability that informs students, parents and teachers about the learning needs of each student and each school,” DuPont read from the resolution. “We believe our state’s future prosperity relies on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers and without such a system, Texas’ economic competitiveness and ability to attract new business will falter.”
Dr. Smith indicated that many districts in the state would welcome an open dialogue with education leaders that could bring about an accountability system that is truly transformative as opposed to a flawed rating system that means nothing.
“If the current system prevails we will not celebrate campuses who receive an “A or a B” because they will have no idea how they received it and we will not condemn a campus who receives a “C or lower because they will have no idea why they received a poor grade as well.”
To read the entire resolution, click here.