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New School Assessment Scale Fails With SA Teachers


Texas public schools will now be assessed on an A-F scale. - VIA FLICKR USER AMBOO WHO?
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  • Texas public schools will now be assessed on an A-F scale.

The state Legislature approved a new ratings system for Texas public schools over the weekend that’s drawn the ire of San Antonio teachers’ associations.

House Bill 2804 will assess schools on an A-F scale, with ‘D’ and ‘F’ constituting failing grades. If Gov. Greg Abbott signs the bill into law, it will take effect in the 2016 school year.

Proponents claim that the ratings are easy to understand, and will provide a more comprehensive understanding of a school’s performance. But its opponents say that it will stigmatize and punish poor districts.

The current rating system separates schools into two groups: “met standard” and “improvement required.”

Under the A-F system, metrics related to standardized test scores will account for 55 percent of a school’s grade. The remaining 45 percent will be determined by assessing measures like dropout rate and attendance. Schools can also determine a few of the metrics by which they’re judged.

The San Antonio Independent School District and the Northside Independent School District did not immediately respond to requests to comment for this story.

Some public school advocates said that the bill is just the next step to further privatize Texas education.

Tom Cummins, president of the Bexar County Federation of Teachers, said that the ratings were a “malicious” attempt by the Legislature “to embarrass a particular school.”

“Those types of scores will often just reflect the socioeconomic position of families in the school district,” Cummins said.

Other states have implemented similar systems with mixed results. There’s a push for Virginia to abandon the scale just two years after adopting it, and instances of fraud have bogged the system down in other states, such as Indiana.

Socioeconomic challenges will manifest themselves across the ratings categories, Cummins said.

“If you’re looking at attendance, the students in a wealthier school getting better health care than students in a low-wealth school. Parents in a low economic area quite often work two or three jobs, and quite often there’s only one breadwinner in the family,” Cummins said.

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