School districts sue TEA over new rating system

A group of Texas school districts have joined a lawsuit against Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath in an attempt to block the implementation of a new school district rating system.

The lawsuit states that the TEA’s “lowering” of ratings for the 2022-2023 school year by “retroactively” making changes to the standards will “arbitrarily lower performance ratings for many school districts and campuses even though their performance improved.”

The TEA announced it would make big changes to its accountability ratings system for public schools. The “2023 A-F Refresh” has been met with mixed reactions.

Del Valle Independent School District (ISD) is one of those involved in the lawsuit. In an announcement, it stated that the reform “moves the goal post” and the TEA’s change to the accountability system is being used to “paint a picture that public schools… are failing.”

“While we are focusing on your children’s success, we are being pulled into a political agenda,” the announcement states.

Another district that has joined the lawsuit is Pflugerville ISD, whose Superintendent Doug Killian said that “the fairness in the accountability system is in question right now.”

“It was a bad time to try to reset the accountability system and the methodology for how it was done. It’s unfair to our staff and students,” Killian asserted.

Kingsville, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah, Fort Stockton, Edinburg Consolidated, Crowley, and Canutillo ISDs are also involved in the lawsuit, with more school districts continuing to announce their plans to join.

“The A–F System is also supposed to be fair by providing a system that makes it possible for all Texas school districts and campuses to receive an A rating,” the lawsuit filing states. “In fact, according to the Texas Education Agency, ideally every school district in Texas would earn an A rating under the A–F System every year.”

According to the TEA, after“five years of the same criteria and a global pandemic,” it is necessary to change the ratings system “to ensure Texas remains a national leader in preparing students for success after graduation.”

“The refreshed A–F system will make adjustments to better reflect the three objectives of the system: rigor for students, fairness for districts and campuses, and transparency for parents and the public.”

Earlier this year, 233 Texas school districts penned a letter to the TEA and Gov. Greg Abbott expressing their concerns over the new rating system.

“Moving forward with the planned refresh is irresponsible as it will cause significant confusion among the community, put increased pressure on teachers and other staff who are already at their breaking point, and wrest the policy decisions of how we should hold our schools accountable away from the elected representatives of the people leaving them in the hands of unelected bureaucrats,” the letter read.

A bipartisan group of Texas legislators also sent a letter to Morath expressing their “concern and objection” to the accountability changes, asking the TEA to “reconsider” the implementation of the refresh plan.

“The new goals will be retroactively applied to last year’s high school graduates, despite the fact that high schools were not given insight into these expectations until after their graduates were long gone,” the lawmakers’ letter states.

“We must get this right.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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