As Texas classrooms reopen after summer break, it’s time for a close look at how well our public schools are serving our students.
Last week, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) provided key data to help families, school leaders, and stakeholders understand academic progress by releasing the A-F accountability ratings. New analysis of the TEA data by the Commit Partnership demonstrates there is much to celebrate across the state and here in Dallas County.
Texas’ accountability system helps spotlight schools and districts with outstanding performance, identify what’s working, and spread those strategies to similar schools. The accountability system assigns each district and campus a letter grade based on a variety of factors related to student outcomes, including baseline achievement results as well as progress from previous years and comparable success within student subgroups.
This system is designed to give every district and campus a fair chance at a high letter grade, and that is borne out by this recent round of data.
Above is a “hope chart,” in which we can see the accountability ratings for all 1,195 Texas school systems measured against rates of economic disadvantage in their student populations. Over 1,000 school systems received ratings of A or B – including hundreds serving large populations of students experiencing economic disadvantage.
At the campus level, over 1,200 Texas schools improved their accountability rating to an A or B from what had been a C, D, or F in 2019 – meaning over 400,000 more Texas students are in high-quality seats thanks to the improvements made in the intervening years. Here in Dallas County, the percentage of campuses with an A or B rating has increased by 10 points since 2019 – meaning nearly 45,000 more Dallas County students are now attending an A- or B-rated campus than were three years ago.
We can identify year-over-year progress like this because of the state's accountability system, which the Texas Legislature put into place in 2017 with the passage of House Bill 22 (85 R) – and the insights we’re able to gain from data provided make a powerful argument for keeping this system in place.
Why it Matters For Students
Texas’ system of letter grades accurately measures student proficiency. Data show students at A- and B-rated campuses are twice as likely as students at lower rated campuses to meet grade-level reading expectations and receive a postsecondary credential within six years of graduating high school. They are three times as likely to be college ready upon graduation.
Additionally, students who attend an A rated campus demonstrate 20 times greater college readiness – based on the SAT, ACT and TSIA – than F-rated campus peers, regardless of family income. This critical academic milestone is a gateway to future success for students. Increasing success across lower performing campuses should be a top priority for Texas to remain economically competitive and ensure all Texans have a path to a self-sustaining wage.
As the Commit Partnership’s PK-12 Policy Director Kate Greer testified to the Texas House Committee on Public Education: “The accountability system and the letter grade, at its simplest form, are predictive of student outcomes, regardless of income level. We use this comparable data as a flashlight to illuminate a path to higher quality, excellent education for all students.”
Why It Matters For All Texans
Texas residents invest over $60 billion annually into our state’s PK-12 education system, and the parents, employers, and taxpayers who rely on this system deserve actionable data on how effectively it is meeting its charge of preparing all students for success after high school.
That’s why accountability reporting includes a great deal of important detail beyond a single letter grade. Campus and district report cards provide important information about a school’s quality and offerings, and unexpected results (both positive and negative) can prompt strategic changes in adult actions and decision making.
While we should always seek continuous improvement in our education systems, we can also be assured we have transparent and fair accountability measures that reflect high expectations for students. 2022’s A-F ratings clearly show our students are seeing results – and make the case for maintaining Texas’ strong accountability system.
“All of this information paints a clear picture for families, school leaders and policymakers so people can make informed decisions on campus selections, where to target resources and how to monitor progress year over year,” finished Greer in her testimony. “When adults spread best practices, our students see results.”