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2023 Parent Poll: Insights #2

Parents find STAAR ratings and A-F accountability highly valuable

Assessment and accountability is a hotly debated issue in Texas. This year, the Texas Legislature has heard extensive testimony from school districts and advocacy organizations regarding STAAR assessments and the Texas A-F Accountability System. A missing piece in these conversations is often parent voices. 

This second analysis of our 2023 Parent Poll dives into the perception of standardized assessments and school quality rating systems among parents. We surveyed 1,500 Houston parents to understand their perception of the value of STAAR and accountability ratings, both of which aim to provide parents with a comprehensive understanding of school performance and student learning. 

However, this analysis also looks at the limitations of the TEA A-F system and how STAAR results can work together with it to give a more complete view. Additionally, it explores parents’ acceptance of school ratings and their actions when faced with poor ratings.

Assessment and accountability in Texas

Texas uses STAAR assessments and end-of-course exams (EOCs) as an objective, standardized way of measuring student learning in math, reading, science, and history. STAAR results provide the state, local school districts, educators, and families with actionable data to assess how well student learning needs are being met. For parents, STAAR results allow them to see how their child is growing academically and highlight any areas that might need additional support. 

STAAR data, along with data related to college, career, and military readiness (CCMR), also allow for a broader perspective of our education system beyond individual student progress. The A-F accountability system uses student outcome data to compare how well school systems are meeting student needs across the state. Scores for campuses and school districts are calculated based on student achievement, student growth, how schools are performing relative to similarly situated schools, and if achievement gaps between student groups are being reduced. Parents can access these results using TXschools.gov, which allows them to not only see how well their child’s campus and district are performing, but also dig deeper into the data to see if schools are effectively supporting all student groups.

A look into parent perception of STAAR and A-F accountability helps us understand if parents are using this data and, if not, what barriers are preventing them from being able to effectively monitor their child’s learning.

Parents value STAAR results for assessing student and school performance

Nearly 3 in 5 (58%) of Houston parents consider STAAR results highly valuable (very valuable or extremely valuable) in assessing their child’s performance in school. Traditional ISD (Independent School District) and charter school parents equally appreciate the significance of STAAR results for evaluating their child’s progress.

STAAR results are also meaningful to parents in evaluating the overall performance of their child’s school, with 57% finding STAAR to be highly valuable.Houston (63%) and Aldine (60%) ISD parents particularly recognize the value of STAAR as a measure of school quality.

Parents find TEA A-F ratings  a valuable resource for evaluating school quality

In 2023, a majority of parents (58%) perceive the TEA A-F rating system as a valuable resource for assessing school quality.

Across school types, parent expectations are the same: A or B ratings

Parents across school types (traditional ISD and charter) hold their schools to the same standard, expecting an A or B rating. Almost half of Houston parents (49%) consider only an A or B rating acceptable and a further 11% would only find an A acceptable. 

Also worth noting, only 66% of parents are satisfied with the quality of their child’s school. These results make it very clear that parents care deeply about the quality of their child’s education and rely on A-F accountability ratings to assess school quality.

Parent action in response to poor school ratings

Parents are motivated to take action when their child’s school receives an unacceptable rating. Parents would consider joining school parent groups (38%), meeting with school leadership (37%), and attending or speaking at a school board meeting (35%) to address the fact that their child’s school earned an unacceptable rating.

Conclusion

Parents are an integral part of the education system and are in the best position to understand their child’s needs. Both STAAR and the A-F accountability system offer data that parents highly value for ensuring schools are meeting those needs. Further, the results of our polling show that parents expect high-quality schools for their children and find state student outcome data actionable when schools are not meeting their standards. 

This insight into parent perception has broad implications. As legislators and other policy makers consider changes to assessment and accountability, it is critical that both of these systems continue to provide meaningful and transparent data that the majority of parents use to follow their child’s academic growth.

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