ROUND ROCK, Texas — The Texas Education Agency says the new report cards released Wednesday are a clearer indication of student performance and district accountability.
“It is the most balanced system that we’ve ever had in Texas and it should be a vehicle to support continuous improvement,” Commissioner Mike Morath said during a press conference at James Garland Walsh Middle School. Walsh Middle School is part of Round Rock Independent School District, which received an A rating.
“Even our highest performing campuses, they can still improve in some area or another,” Morath said.
The system looks at student achievement, school progress and how districts are closing the gaps.
When breaking down the student achievement grade, 40 percent comes from STAAR test results, another 40 percent is based on college, career and military readiness and 20 percent is from the graduation rate.
However, some educator groups are criticizing the ratings, saying that it’s an unfair and incomplete assessment of student success.
“We don’t like the whole process,” Clay Robison, spokesperson for the Texas State Teachers Association, said.
Robison said one of the issues the organization has with the report card is the weight that it gives STAAR test scores, which he says “do not represent anything but a student’s ability to take a test on a given day.”
“We believe this is strictly a way for the state leaders to blame school kids and educators for their own shortcomings,” Robison continued.
The association says the grades also distract from the ongoing underfunding of public education.
However, Morath is rejecting these claims.
“I think neither of those criticisms are really accurate in terms of how the system works,” he said.
Morath says the grades are a result of a holistic evaluation and recognizes both the high impact of educations and student achievement.
“It is predicated on a process of continuous improvement, but in order to engage in continuous improvement, we do have to measure performance,” he said.
Single-campus districts were graded under three ratings – whether they met standard, met alternative standard or required improvement.
Grades for each district can be accessed at www.txschools.org.