Senator Larry Taylor
State lawmakers recently rolled out a new system for school assessment and accountability that includes A-through-F ratings for districts and individual campuses.
Currently, districts and campuses are assigned a rating of “met standard” or “needs improvement” based solely on how students perform of state-mandated standardized tests known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. Under the new system, STARR and end-of-course exam scores would become one of five measures used to rate schools.
Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), chair of the Texas Senate Education Committee, sponsored the bill in the Senate which established the A-through-F rating system as well as the creation of a new commission to study assessment and accountability issues.
“HB 2804 greatly improves the Texas public school accountability system by providing a more accurate and comprehensive measure of school performance,” Taylor said in an email to The Journal. “With these new tools, like using an A-F campus rating system and the creation of the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessment and Accountability, we will be better able to encourage, educate, and empower Texas students.”
Based on five components
In addition to standardized test scores, the new rating system is based on four additional measures including the progress made on STARR test scores from year to year and how well a district or campus is able to close the gap between high-scoring students and other racial, ethnic or socio-economic groups of students that have historically scored poorly on the STARR test.
The third component involves a mix of academic measures such as dropout and graduation rates for high school students, attendance rates for middle and junior high students, AP completion rates, college readiness measures and the number of students who earn technical-program certification among other things.
For the final component, district officials will be allowed to choose three categories for evaluation from a list provided by the Texas Education Agency. The categories would include a variety of choices such as an evaluation of fine arts programs or career and technical programs for example. Districts would choose three categories for the entire district’s evaluation and then would also be able to choose three different categories for each campus.
According to HB 2804, the new A-through-F rating system will finalized over the next two years with the first set of ratings to be released for the 2017-18 school year.
In addition to putting a new rating system in place, HB 2804 calls for the creation of the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessment and Accountability (TCNGAA).
Going forward, the 15-member commission will to perfect and develop new systems of student assessment and public school accountability. Among those who will serve are the chairs of the Education Committees and the Committees on Higher Education from both the Texas House of Represtatives and the Senate, a member of the State Board of Education, top educators, an assessment research expert, a parent representative and civic, business and community leaders from across the state.