LISD rejects A-F school district grading scale, rails against standardized test

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Lewisville ISD published a letter last week rejecting A-F school district rankings. But the district’s friction with the state goes back much further.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency released its first official A-F rankings of school districts in Texas. Lewisville ISD parents received a letter in advance of the release stating that LISD rejects state rankings on principle. The A-F rating system is replacing a more simple pass-fail ranking system, which the district also did not believe to be trustworthy.

“Lewisville ISD wants to encourage you to view these ratings for what they are — a misguided attempt to label our schools based almost solely on flawed standardized testing,” superintendent Kevin Rogers wrote. “Lewisville ISD rejects this form of accountability, as our district and our schools are more than a grade based on a state standardized test.”

While the common joke was that LISD had seen they would getting a bad grade, the district was assessed as one of the state’s best. LISD scored an 89, which puts it on the cusp of an A. While they’re tied with a few dozen districts at that score, there are 176 districts with higher scores out of the 1,200 that received TEA grades. Out of LISD’s 63 individual campuses, four received a score below 70 and only one, Central Elementary, was designated as an “improvement required” campus. You can look up how all districts did at the new Texas Schools website here.

The school district’s resistance to the A-F ranking system is part of a larger push by school districts across Texas. Rogers said LISD was joined by 62 public school districts across Texas in rejecting this system in favor of the Texas Public Accountability Consortium, which is developing what the consortium says is a more accurate accountability system.

Educator protest of statewide district grades goes back to the moment they were announced. Common criticisms of the ranking system are that it’s oversimplified to the point of being misleading or that it unfairly disadvantages poorer districts. LISD was among the first critics, calling for the state to repeal the A-F system in January 2017.

The A-F system also relies on the existing STAAR test, which LISD has had significant specific difficulty with in the past. The district made state-wide news in 2016 when it spent $5,000 to double-check STAAR grading, which was found to be flawed in many cases. High school students must pass the STAAR test to graduate, and student progress with the test is already a factor in school accountability.

School district administrators have been vocal in their disapproval of the way Texas handles public school funding, and spent the majority of last school year thinking it would have to pay $700,000 into the state’s recapture system this coming year. The school district was one of three that was hit with a cease-and-desist letter from the state attorney general’s office in February, accusing district officials of electioneering and encouraging community members to vote against incumbent politicians.

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