Five reasons why A-F ratings are not an accurate depiction of our schools
In January 2017, the Texas Education Agency released “mock” ratings of the A-F Accountability Ratings for districts and schools across Texas. The ratings in this new TEA report are for information purposes only. A-F is not scheduled to become the official rating system until August 2018. The Legislature requested a “what if” report to show what ratings schools would receive if the system was in place now. Development of the new A-F accountability system is continuing at the state level until spring 2018, when the final rules are adopted.
Humble ISD, along with school district across Texas, are concerned that the new rating system utilizes a flawed methodology -- placing too much emphasis on STAAR testing and comparing schools based on an inequitable approach. Here are five reasons why A-F ratings are not an accurate depiction of our schools:
1. A-F rating systems are based on once-per-year test scores, not a comprehensive picture of a student’s ability.
There is so much more that parents and teachers want for children than what’s measured on STAAR tests.
2. A-F rating systems rely on pages upon pages of complicated rules and calculations, making it hard to really know what a letter grade means.
For example, the rating for Domain III is calculated for elementary schools using a formula of y = -.10992x + 47.31887 where y is the predicted Domain I score and x is the percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged. Different slope-intercept formulas are used for calculating middle, high school and district ratings.
3. A-F ratings align with wealth and poverty.
Schools with wealthier students tend to score higher ratings, although teaching may be of the same quality as that of a school with high poverty levels. Consistently across the nation, there is a high correlation between a rating and students’ socio-economic status.
4. A-F rating systems provide no sense of what schools must do to improve.
Letter grades sort and rank student’s scores and attendance, but provide no qualitative analysis or additional support to schools.
5. A-F rating systems create false impressions.
The ratings are not only based upon the performance of all students added together, but additionally on the performance of 9 groups: 7 individual racial/ethnic groups (African American, Hispanic, White, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, Two or More Races); Special Education students; and English Language Learners. This means that a few students can have a magnified effect on a school’s score. In other words, a group of 25 students in one group count as much as a group of 500 students in another group because the scores of each group are measured. This results in ratings that defy common sense. For example, a middle school in Humble ISD received a C for Domain IV even though the Average Daily Attendance at the school is 96.4 percent for all students.
Summary: The A-F ratings plan has been touted as simple and transparent. The truth is that the underlying calculations are anything but simple and transparent.
August 2018 Update: The Texas Education Agency released ratings for school districts using a new A-F system on August 15, 2018. Humble ISD received “Not Rated.” Humble ISD is among 92 Gulf Coast districts not being rated because of the storm’s impact on the 2017-2018 school year. If ratings were in effect for Humble ISD, the district’s score would have been a B or 88, two points below an A. Ratings are primarily based on multiple-choice tests that the state requires schools to administer to elementary, middle, and high school students.