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Update on Accountability Ratings: What You Need to Know

The annual release of public school and district accountability ratings is an opportunity for reflection, celebration, and strategic planning based on these ratings. However, this year has brought about a significant change in the usual process.

TYPICAL YEAR

The Texas Education Agency typically releases A-F accountability ratings for districts and schools in August of each school year. The ratings serve as a compass, guiding efforts in educational progress, recognizing achievements, and identifying areas that demand attention. 

However, for 2022, the TEA assigned A-C ratings only. Campuses that would have received a D or F rating received a “Not Rated: Senate Bill 1365” designation. This is a result of Senate Bill 1365, which was passed in the 87th Texas Legislative Session in response to learning disruption during the pandemic. 

It’s worth noting that the measurement design at that time allowed for districts to achieve a higher rating if year-over-year growth was high, even if student achievement was low. The low achievement scores from the prior year due to significant pandemic related learning loss set the stage for an uncharacteristically large growth in student achievement in 2022. Those ratings are explained here. 

CURRENT SITUATION

As of mid-December, districts have access to the raw data that TEA typically uses to assign school performance ratings. However, the public release of state accountability ratings for the 2022- 2023 school year has been delayed due to ongoing legal actions. This delay impacts Houstonians who rely on this essential information to gain valuable insights into how schools and districts are performing.

Since TEA released the data to districts, Houston ISD has chosen to share their analysis publicly. You can read about their projected ratings here:

Houston ISD projects 111 schools would get D or F ratings under contested state rating system

POLICY IMPLICATIONS

While the Texas Legislature did not pass legislation this year that substantially affects assessment and accountability, the issue continues to be a topic of discussion amongst legislators. During the Regular Legislative Session, several bills were filed that proposed additional measures for the A-F accountability system, including HB 4402 which would have added non-academic criteria to district and campus evaluations. 

The A-F accountability system faced challenge in the fall from some school districts concerning the timing of changes the Texas Education Agency was pursuing as part of their statutorily required periodic review of the system. In the wake of this pending litigation, the Governor called Special Legislative Sessions 3 and 4, which partially focused on education policy. 

A portion of the House BIll 1 proposed eliminating the statewide academic accountability system by 2026. Instead, the House proposed a Commission on Assessment and Accountability to suggest improvements or a new system. Meanwhile, it suggested reverting to the 2022 Accountability Manual temporarily, which protected districts from pandemic-related learning loss repercussions by using ‘Not Rated’ instead of D/F ratings. Combined with pauses during the pandemic, this move would have left Texas without a fully functioning academic accountability system for 8 years, without a defined vision for a future framework. 

While ultimately none of these bills were successful, we continue to track the policy landscape to support maintaining a fair, transparent, and rigorous academic accountability system. Our current accountability framework offers clarity for districts and public access to student learning. The absence of a clear future vision for accountability may leave districts, parents, and students without essential guidance and support.

Our recent webinar provided a comprehensive year-end review of all things public education policy, including school finance, teacher support, and high-quality instruction. As these conversations continue, it’s essential for us to monitor them closely. Our commitment remains focused on maintaining high standards that prioritize rigorous education and student success. 

LEARN MORE

To keep you informed and engaged, Good Reason Houston is working on an updated Regional Progress Dashboard, set to launch in January, that will offer comprehensive insights into school performance. This user-friendly tool aims to provide accessible and transparent information for the Houston community.

In the meantime, we encourage you to explore other valuable resources available to stay informed about Houston’s public education landscape: 

      • Upcoming Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) Analysis to be released in January

    While this year has brought a unique situation regarding accountability ratings, our commitment to transparency, educational excellence, and community engagement remains steadfast. To drive continuous improvement, we believe in upholding a strong accountability system that is consistent, transparent, and based on objective indicators of student achievement. 

    Good Reason Houston is dedicated to keeping you informed, involved, and equipped with the resources needed to navigate this period.

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