Texas must stop using the A-F rating system to evaluate teachers, students and schools.
Besides Texas, only 8 other states assign letter grades to schools, and since 2019, New Mexico, Michigan, Utah, and Ohio all scrapped their A-F school rating systems. Leaders in these states recognized that letter grades don’t measure what actually matters in education—they only punish communities already struggling with poverty.
There is no evidence that its use improves student learning or readiness for life. Assigning letter grades to schools based on students’ test score performance is not supported by any research. In fact, researchers have found that A-F ratings provide no meaningful information about how a school is doing. More often, the use of A-F ratings narrows instruction to focus on test prep at the expense of meaningful student learning and readiness for college and career.
Since 2018, the Texas Education Agency has assigned annual A-F letter grades to every school district and campus in the state. State leaders use these ratings to determine which campuses they subject to turnaround reforms and which to take over. Texas’s highest-poverty schools receive nearly 90% of the Ds and Fs given out by the state.
Yet state bureaucrats like TEA Commissioner Mike Morath continue to back the A-F system, even as districts across the state are suing to stop changes that would dramatically increase the number of so-called “failing” schools. It’s clear that for Morath and other state leaders, these ratings are not about helping schools improve—they are just a vehicle for undermining public education.
Last week, more than 100 Texas school districts won a temporary injunction against the TEA in the A-F rating system lawsuit. The lawsuit stated that “the new guidelines were released too late in violation of state law” and applied to students who had already graduated in 2022. Previously, a district in which 60% of students were considered career and college ready earned an A rating. The new policy raised it to 88%.” The state also rolled out a new version of the STAAR last year and required that the assessment be fully online for all students for the first time. Moving the goalpost in the middle of the game is a mean-spirited move that helps neither kids nor communities.
Because Texas significantly underfunds public education, many schools labeled “underperforming” lack the resources they need to meet students’ learning needs. Texas ranks 42nd in the nation in per-student spending, and critical teacher shortages across the state mean children with the greatest needs often end up with uncertified teachers or no teacher at all.
For all the talk about holding “failing” schools accountable, it’s time state leaders took accountability for their failure to adequately fund public education.
Leaders on both sides of the aisle are ready for change.
CVPE this week
Tonight: How to register to speak at a Board Meeting: Monday (10/30), 8 pm. RSVP for zoom link to houstoncvpe.org/events
Thur, Nov 2 Board “work session”: To speak at the Thursday Board meeting, you must sign up by noon on Wednesday. Click here for step-by-step instructions to sign up to speak. Sign up for an agenda item. If you are uncertain about what to sign up for, choose “minutes from previous meetings” or hearing of citizens. The superintendent and the board of managers may not be listening, but the media is reporting.
Saturday, Nov 4th CVPE meeting: Join parents, teachers, students, and community to work together to fight for strong schools. 1:00-2:30 pm at Covenant Baptist Church, 4949 Caroline. RSVP at houstoncvpe.org/events.
Sunday, Nov 5th Blockwalk to talk to neighbors about public education. 4-5:30 pm. Location TBA
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