TEA’s accountability ratings spark legal action from Texas school districts

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) annually assesses schools in the Frisco Independent School District (Frisco ISD) using a grading system from A to F. This is largely based on student performance in the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). However, there’s uncertainty surrounding the grading criteria for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic cycles.

Commissioner Mike Morath and the TEA have not confirmed the methods for upcoming school ratings. In response, the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees approved a recommendation to join a legal challenge against the TEA, initiated by Kingsville ISD, according to Dallas Metro News. The challenge, funded by Frisco ISD’s existing legal budget, questions the lack of clear accountability measures for the mentioned academic years.

The goal of this legal action is to prevent the commissioner from releasing new academic ratings based on unclear measures. One issue with the revised grading system is the increased percentage needed to achieve an ‘A’ grade in college, career, and military readiness (CCMR). In 2023, the requirement will rise to 88% from 60%, using data from 2022’s graduates.

Frisco ISD values high academic standards but believes that schools need sufficient time to adjust to new benchmarks. “Accountability is an important orienting aspect for a school district; however, the arbitrary application of new measures without the required advanced notice will potentially give the appearance that schools across the state, including Frisco ISD, are declining,” commented Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip.

Even with improved STAAR scores, Frisco ISD expects a possible rating decline due to the changed accountability system, impacting many Texas districts. Some Frisco ISD schools may receive lower grades.

In March 2023, Frisco ISD led an effort urging the TEA to re-evaluate the new metrics, supported by 250 Texas school districts. New accountability ratings, initially set for release on September 28, have been delayed by the TEA for about a month. One major change is raising the CCMR ‘A’ grade threshold from 60% to 88%. Additionally, a hearing regarding a restraining order is set for September 25, before the planned release of new ratings.

Several districts, including Crowley ISD, Edinburg CISD, Kingsville ISD, Klein ISD, and Pflugerville ISD, are part of the legal action against the TEA. In 2022, Frisco ISD was North Texas’s largest district to earn an ‘A’ rating from TEA.

The upcoming legal activities emphasize the need for clarity and transparent communication regarding educational accountability from the relevant authorities.

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