Joining school districts across Texas, the Brazosport Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution at its meeting on January 17, 2017, calling on the state legislature to repeal the A-F letter-grade school/district rating system that will be implemented in the 2017-18 school year as part of House Bill 2804, passed by the Legislature in 2015.
The resolution highlight’s some of the many flaws of the A-F system: The method requires complex sets of rules, calculations and formulas to combine a multitude of unrelated measures into a single, “simple” letter grade that cannot be supported with explanation, are useless for providing feedback that could be used for schools, and usually align with the wealth or poverty of the students in the school.
“We all have a general understanding of what letter grades stand for. An A is usually a 90 to 100, a B is 80 to 89, and so forth, but the state’s system does not work this way,” stated Superintendent Danny Massey. “This A-F accountability system does not meet the original intent of student, teacher, campus, and district performance to be easily understood and transparent. Our educators work too hard to be suckered punched by the state with ‘work in progress’ flawed accountability system. In Brazosport ISD, we will continue to prepare for our students to be future ready in a competitive global marketplace.”
The resolution notes that, despite A-F rating systems being implemented in 16 other states, there is no evidence that these systems have helped to improve student performance. It points out that the majority of the grades assigned by the A-F rating system will be based on students’ scores on the STAAR, a standardized test viewed as unreliable for accurately measuring student learning, and that an overwhelming majority of Texans recently surveyed by the State Board of Education have said they do not want standardized test scores to serve as the primary basis for Texas’ school accountability system.
The resolution does offer an alternative to the A-F rating system: development of a community-based accountability system that empowers districts to design their own systems of assessment and accountability that, while meeting general state standards, allows innovation and customization to match the needs and interests of the local community.