Stanford & student

Superintendent Wade Stanford of Westwood Independent School District works with Jayce Reeves, a fourth grade student at Westwood Elementary, on a place value math lesson.

Most local superintendents oppose the new Texas Education Agency's rating system. By relying too heavily on test scores, they said, it fails to provide a balanced and accurate picture of student learning.

The new system, effective in August, grades schools on student achievement, school progress, and closing the gaps. Each combines students’ performance on standardized tests, known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR tests, with other school data.

The new system grades school districts on a report card scale of A, B, C, D, or F. The previous system graded school districts on a pass-fail basis.

The new system provides an incomplete picture of the quality and range of programs districts offer, local superintendents told the Herald-Press.

Westwood schools received C’s in all three of the report card's categories. Westwood superintendent Wade Stanford disagrees with the system’s over-reliance on standardized tests.

“STAAR scores do not evaluate student growth,” Stanford said.

Elkhart’s new superintendent, Lamont Smith, thinks the report card does not reflect the school district’s quality. Elkhart Independent School District received B’s in all three categories on its report card.  

“It’s a tool but not the best gauge,” Smith said. “If you were to take a picture of everything that happens in one day, that would more adequately reflect what happens here.”

Palestine Independent School District Superintendent Jason Marshall does not oppose holding school districts accountable. He said his district's B grade, however, did not show how well Palestine prepares students for college and careers.

“Almost every senior graduated with an associate's degree or a career certificate,” Marshall said. “For the time, effort, and investment we made, we should have received an A.”

At least one local school superintendent embraces the new school report card. Superintendent John Allen of Frankston said it offers students, parents, and the community a more complete picture of school district performance.

“The report card provides meaningful metrics,” Allen said. “It’s the best thing we’ve had. We need to keep it and make it better.”

TEA receives funds from the Texas legislature and allocates them to school districts, based on enrollment, population, and demographics. TEA does not base funding on the report card, but uses the new rating system, online at txschools.org, to give parents more information on schools’ performance.