Teachers and department heads work in the self proclaimed 'war-room' at Stonewall-Flanders Elementary in preparation of the STAAR test.
Teachers and department heads work in the self proclaimed 'war-room' at Stonewall-Flanders Elementary in preparation of the STAAR test. Credit: Scott Ball / Rivard Report

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The Texas Education Agency released its ratings for all districts and campuses Wednesday following an overhaul of the state accountability system that replaced “met standard” and “improvement required” ratings for school districts with letter grades of A through F.

Both campuses and districts received a number score of 1 through 100 based on three categories: student achievement, student progress, and closing achievement gaps. The final category measures how well specific student populations perform.

Districts alone received letter grades, while campuses were awarded “met standard” if they scored above 60 and “improvement required” if they did not.

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath described the A-F system as the “fairest” Texas has ever used. Morath said while other letter grade accountability systems are often criticized for having a strong correlation between failing grades and poverty, he believes Texas’ system does not.

As a result of the scores – and a state law that incurs penalties for any school receiving five consecutive “improvement required” ratings – one San Antonio Independent School District campus will close following the 2018-19 school year. SAISD announced to parents and staff last week that Rodriguez Elementary would close at the end of the school year, and district officials are looking into ways to reopen the school by fall 2020.

Throughout the rest of San Antonio, 38 campuses in public school districts received an “improvement required” grade, including 16 in San Antonio ISD, six in Edgewood ISD, five in South San Antonio ISD, three in East Central ISD, two in Southwest ISD, two in Northside ISD, two in North East ISD, one in Harlandale ISD, and one in Southside ISD.

“Improvement required” campuses make up approximately 4 percent of all traditional public schools. The majority of statewide “improvement required” campuses are elementary schools.

San Antonio’s “improvement required” schools are largely new to the rating. All but six of the 26 area campuses rated “improvement required” last year received a “met standard” in this year’s accountability rating system.

One of the schools that received an “improvement required” was Ogden Elementary in SAISD, which now has received a failing grade for five consecutive years. However, because of a partnership SAISD leveraged with Relay Graduate School of Education, state law permits Ogden reprieve from accountability consequences for an additional two years.

Districts were rated on an A through F scale, with three districts scoring an A, three districts scoring a B, seven districts scoring a C, and two districts scoring a D. No public school district in Bexar County scored an F.

Some district officials and school administrators have been critical of the A-F ratings, saying they reduce a complex assessment of a school to a simple letter.

“Placing a single letter grade on a district or school marginalizes the many great things occurring in our classrooms,” North East ISD Superintendent Brian Gottardy wrote to parents Tuesday night in preparation for the release of the scores. “The STAAR test captures a student’s academic ability over a few days in a given year. It does not take into account whether your child is a great artist, athlete, friend, performer, leader, etc.”

The Texas Education Agency also issued grades for Bexar County’s 22 open-enrollment charter school districts. Many of the charter schools received top marks: Heritage Academy, Basis Texas, Harmony Science Academy, Great Hearts Texas, George Gervin Academy, School of Science and Technology, and School of Science and Technology D all received an A.

Jubilee Academies, New Frontiers Public Schools, and Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering received a D. The lowest scores of an F and “improvement required” were given to Por Vida Academy, Carpe Diem Schools, and Bexar County Academy. Districts were not given a letter grade if they only had one campus. Carpe Diem Schools announced earlier this year it would close.

Individual campuses were also scored on a scale of 1 to 100. Nine individual charter campuses received an “improvement required” score:

  • Jubilee – Highland Hills
  • Jubilee – Lake View University Prep
  • KIPP Un Mundo Dual Language Academy
  • Frank L Madla Accelerated Collegiate Academy
  • Por Vida Academy Charter High School
  • Dr David C Walker Elementary
  • Carpe Diem Schools
  • Brooks Academy Lonestar
  • Bexar County Academy

Across the state, 18 percent of public and charter school districts scored an A, 43 percent scored a B, 30 percent scored a C, 7 percent scored a D, and 2 percent scored an F.

Click here for a full listing of all accountability grades broken down by letter and number.

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the Rivard Report.