Godley ISD joins districts across Texas calling for repeal of A-F school rating system
Godley ISD’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution at its meeting on December 19, 2016 concerning the A-F accountability rating system for Texas public schools.
The resolution calls on the Texas Legislature to repeal the A-F letter-grade school/district rating system that will be implemented in the 2017-18 school year as part of House Bill 2804, passed by the Legislature in 2015.
The resolution notes that, despite A-F rating systems being implemented in 16 other states, there is no evidence that these systems have helped to improve student or school performance. It points out that the majority of the grades assigned by the A-F rating system will be based on students’ scores on the STAAR, a standardized test viewed as unreliable for accurately measuring student learning, and that an overwhelming majority of Texans recently surveyed by the State Board of Education have said they do not want standardized test scores to serve as the primary basis for Texas’ school accountability system. “Test scores don’t need to be the only factor. We believe in local control, and the Godley community wants to create a broad measure of student and school success focused on continuous improvement that takes into account many measures of progress, such as high school graduation rates, certifications earned, and service learning,” said Marissa Abbott, Godley ISD school board member.
The resolution also notes the flaws of A-F systems: They require a complex set of rules and calculations to combine a multitude of disparate measures into a single, “simple” letter grade that cannot be supported with explanation, are useless for providing feedback that could be used for improvement, and usually align with the wealth or poverty of the students in the school. Godley ISD Superintendent Dr. Rich Dear said, “Reducing the quality of the school to a single mark will always be misleading given the complexity of educating students.”
The resolution offers an alternative to the A-F rating system: development of a community-based accountability system that empowers districts to design their own systems of assessment and accountability that, while meeting general state standards, allows innovation and customization to match the needs and interests of the local community. Jason Karnes, who is the Godley Intermediate School principal and a parent said, “We embrace meaningful accountability that informs students, parents, and teachers about the learning needs of each student and each school.”
In 2013, a large group of Godley ISD stakeholders including students, staff, parents, and community members, met to developed the Godley ISD Strategic Design. This advisory group considered the district’s mission, vision, and desired learner outcomes, and reflected on the limitations of the state accountability system to effectively measure achievement of the Godley ISD graduate profile. During this processes, the advisory group was also asked to identify potential indicators of success toward achievement of the graduate profile. Dr. Dear said, “A Community-Based Accountability Report is a true reflection of how the school district is doing in the areas most important and highly valued in our community.”
Godley board member Terrie Goodloe added, “We feel the Godley school community is better qualified to make decisions about our students than legislators down in Austin.”
The indicators of success identified by the advisory group were coalesced to create a set of community-based rating and accountability measures. Godley ISD is formulating a document that describes and defines the vision of GISD’s Community-Based Accountability Report as outlined by the advisory committee and the indicators in which GISD will measure its success. “We believe our community based accountability report will engage our school community because it is grounded in what our community values,” said Matt McKittrick, Godley ISD board president.
Dr. Dear said, “We believe strongly in accountability, but accountability based on community values for the right purpose. We cannot support a system that relies on one-shot testing, perpetuates a myth of objectivity, and punishes students and teachers based on false conclusions about student success.”