Denton ISD board members blast new school rating system

Resolution calling for state officials to repeal new structure approved

Denton ISD board members joined school officials across the state in denouncing a new state accountability system that grades schools on an “A-F” scale.

After a quick motion by board member Charles Stafford and an even quicker second by board member Jim Alexander, trustees unanimously approved a resolution calling for state officials to repeal the system, which is set to take effect in 2018.

“It’s a travesty,” said Stafford, who also serves as the president for the Texas Association of School Boards. “The sooner we get it repealed, the better.”

The Texas Education Agency released “what-if” grades on Friday, but state officials stressed that the ratings were not official and the system still was a work in progress.

Schools were graded on four domains: student achievement; student progress; closing the gaps between low- and high-performing students; and postsecondary readiness, or how prepared students were for life after high school.

Denton ISD received B’s in student achievement and student progress, a D in closing the gaps and a C in postsecondary readiness.

Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson said the system relies too much on standardized tests.

“Any system that is strongly slanted toward high-stakes testing will indirectly have the potential to have people teach to the test,” Wilson said. “If your grade is going to be how you do on this test and our teachers are going to keep getting beat up with these labels, indirectly that’s what happens.”

According to the Denton ISD resolution, a statewide survey conducted by the State Board of Education showed the majority of Texans don’t want standardized tests to be the primary indicator of school accountability.

“It begs the question as to who wants that,” Stafford said.

Stafford went on to call the new system a “ploy” by state legislators to bring a school voucher system to Texas, which would use public funds to help families pay for private school tuition.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that type of program was one of his top priorities for the 2017 legislative session that gaveled in Tuesday.

Educators across the state have said the system hurts low-income schools, but Stafford also said it could hurt property values.

“I see people on a regular basis who refuse to buy homes where a school is rated average,” he said.

To read Denton ISD’s full resolution, go to www.dentonisd.org/Page/92 and click on “Board Meeting Agendas & Information.”

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @CjonesDRC.

Source : http://www.dentonrc.com/news/news/2017/01/10/denton-isd-board-members-blast-new-school-rating-system

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