Grades are in for local school districts, thanks to a new but controversial rating system released Wednesday by the Texas Education Agency, an arm of state government responsible for public education.

Report card ratings are now available on TEA’s new website, TXschools.org. The site enables users to access overall ratings, test scores, and comprehensive information about schools and school districts.

With the grading initiative, TEA aims to give the public and state legislators accountability measures that show how well school districts and schools use public funds.

The new rating system, however, has received a failing grade from the state's 600 school boards, which almost unanimously oppose the system. Among their complaints: too much emphasis on test scores, and not enough on special programs, such as fine arts.  

All Anderson County school districts received good or mediocre grades overall, with five districts rated above average.

Compared with other Texas districts, Anderson County schools fare well, even with B and C ratings. Only about 1 percent of school districts statewide received F’s; roughly 10 percent received A’s.

Grades are based on numerical scores in three areas: student achievement, academic growth, and closing achievement gaps for disadvantaged students.

Palestine schools received an overall grade of B, based on a total score of 82 out of 100. Student achievement – how much students know at the end of the school year – received 78 points, or a C.

Schools in Palestine received a higher grade – 84 points, or a B – for school progress, another term for academic growth in reading and math. They received 76 points, or a C, for their efforts to close academic achievement gaps between disadvantaged and other students.

Local schools excelled in two areas – post-secondary preparation and financial integrity.

Cayuga schools were rated post-secondary ready. Cayuga, Elkhart, Neches, Oakwood, Palestine, Slocum, and Westwood schools achieved A’s in financial integrity.