The Texas Education Agency released its A-F Accountability Ratings for the 2018-19 year this past week.
Each school district in the state is graded on the TEA’s three points of criteria: student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps. The highest domain score counts as 70 percent of the overall grade, and the middle domain counts as 30 percent. The lowest domain score is not factored into the overall grade.
The majority of Angelina County school districts met the TEA’s standards, with several improving their scores.
■ Lufkin ISD received a B overall, with an 89 out of 100, one point above last year’s score.
■ Central ISD received a B overall, with an 89 out of 100. That is five points above last year’s score.
■ Diboll ISD received a B overall, scoring an 87 out of 100. That is two points better than last year’s score.
■ Hudson ISD received a B overall, with an 89 out of 100, four points below last year’s score.
■ Huntington ISD received a B overall, with an 89 out of 100, seven points above last year’s score.
■ Pineywoods Community Academy received an A overall, scoring 90 out of 100. That is the same score PCA received last year.
■ Wells ISD received an A overall, scoring 90 out of 100. This year’s score is 12 points above last year’s score.
■ Zavalla ISD received a B overall, scoring 85 out of 100. That score is 18 points above last year’s score.
Most superintendents were understandably pleased with their outcomes.
Dale Morton, the interim superintendent in Wells, said that while the district is delighted with the rating,“We still have some room for growth, and we will continue to improve.”
Their improvement wasn’t accidental, Morton said, but rather proof of the hard work and effort of a tremendous team.
Monica Gunter, PCA’s assistant director, shared those sentiments. She said earning an A rating for the second straight year speaks volumes about the PCA teachers and their dedication to students.
“It is their laser-like focus on every student in the classroom that has made this accomplishment possible,” Gunter said. “Without the teachers and their hard work, we would not be able to celebrate this year’s rating.’’
The Texas State Teachers Association has an issue with the accountability system because, ‘‘Standardized test scores are an incomplete, misleading way to measure student success.’’
Hudson Superintendent Donny Webb understands that concern.
Webb said the district will be appealing its grade because the Stubblefield Learning Center received a D rating for 2019. Stubblefield is a cooperative between the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce, Angelina College and five participating school districts — Central, Diboll, Hudson, Lufkin and Zavalla. The Hudson school district handles administrative duties at Stubblefield.
The campus was not rated last year due to minimum size requirements within the accountability system, Webb said. However, that process changed this year to a minimum number of tests submitted. That change penalizes unique, alternative education programs like Stubblefield, which only had six students. Those programs are designed to help students who likely would not have graduated, or been ready for graduation, earn a diploma.
But the system’s accountability data calculations are based on STAAR data on student achievement. That means an alternative campus is at a disadvantage when compared to any regular campus.
In addition, new state guidelines say a district cannot obtain a grade of A if any one campus receives a grade lower than a C. In Hudson’s case, that means the entire district is being penalized a letter grade for the inclusion of a campus with only six students and the state’s flawed calculation methodology.
While Webb is aggravated with the accountability system, he, too, is proud of the accomplishments of his district’s teachers and students, and the ‘‘exceptional’’ work they are doing.
Many of our schools did make great improvements from last year to this year, but the system still relies heavily on the one-size-fits-all approach that has plagued the state’s education system going back generations.
Maybe the school finance reforms in House Bill 3 will usher in the meaningful changes that will provide students and their teachers the resources and opportunities necessary to succeed. Every educators’ focus should be on providing their students the best possible education, one that prepares them for post-secondary education and the job market.
Only time will tell. Until then, perhaps Huntington Superintendent David Flowers said it best. “I am proud of the work our students and teachers do every day. We are more than a letter or a number.”