TASA Opposes A-F Ratings

DUNCANVILLE, TX – TASA, the Texas Association of School Administrators, has come out in opposition to the upcoming A-F school and district rating system. Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, the Texas commissioner of education will label each public school district with a rating in the form of an A-F letter grade in order to comply with 84th Texas Legislature’s House Bill 2804. TASA believes Texas students would be better served by a comprehensive community-based accountability system that “looks beyond high-stakes, multiple-choice tests to meaningful assessments that have value for students, parents and teachers,” measuring what each community deems important in promoting college and career readiness.
TASA cites several reasons as to why A-F ratings are inadequate and need to be replaced.

* A–F rating systems are based predominantly on once-per-year standardized test scores.
Although it is called a criterion-referenced test, the STAAR was designed to rank order students, not assign judgments of quality. Also, when surveyed, an overwhelming majority of Texans said they do not want a public school accountability system based primarily on students’ standardized test scores.
* A–F rating systems have not worked in other states.
Virginia repealed its A–F school rating system in 2015 and Oklahoma researchers found that test scores have not only declined, but performance drops have been most severe among low-income students.

*A–F rating systems rely on complicated rules and calculations.
As a result, no one really knows what a letter grade means. No one can explain the grade, and no one knows what to do to raise the grade.

* A–F systems fail to account for influential socioeconomic conditions.
Letter grades based largely on standardized test scores hold schools and districts accountable for many factors they do not control.

* Grades in an A–F system will align with wealth or poverty, punishing poor schools for being poor.
When schools are held accountable for factors they cannot control, poor schools are judged as bad, and wealthy schools are judged as good, when neither is entirely true.

* A–F rating systems provide no sense of what schools must do to improve.
Texans surveyed in 2016 agreed that accountability should identify areas of support needed for underperforming schools and identify best practices used by high-performing schools and districts. “Simple” letter grades based on a complicated system of calculations is neither transparent nor useful for improvement.

* A–F rating systems create false impressions about neighborhoods and shames students.

The reduction of a school to a single grade whitewashes the variance in a school, unfairly reducing every student to the school’s assigned grade.