Dallas-area School Districts Ask Texas to Ditch A-F Campus Grades

School districts from around Texas want the state to scrap its plans to give letter grades to campuses, saying the new system is misleading and unfair.Starting in 2018, Texas public schools and districts will receive letter grades of A through F, based mainly on STAAR test results. The grades will replace the current, more nuanced system.The DeSoto Independent School District announced Tuesday that it was joining other districts around the state in opposing the new grades. "I find it very disturbing to say one letter grade is going to explain the whole story behind our schools' and our students' academic progress," DeSoto Superintendent David Harris said in a prepared statement. The school board passed a resolution Monday asking the state Legislature to ditch the letter grades and give school districts and local communities more say in rating their schools.About 20 districts around the state, including Mesquite and Forney, have passed similar resolutions, said Amy Francisco, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Administrators. The Austin-based group has led the charge against the A-F system and urged districts to join their cause.Right now, schools and districts are rated "met standard" or "improvement required." Campuses can also earn distinctions for doing better than their peers. Supporters of letter grades will make it easier for parents, teachers and others to see how well their school is doing. Critics say it's too easy."On the surface it sounds simple and easy and clean, but people need to know what it really means and what the downsides are," Francisco said. One downside, she said, is that it will likely punish poor schools for being poor. In many other states with letter grades, critics say, F schools tend to have a large share of disadvantaged children.The state will give preliminary grades to schools early next year, to give people an idea of what's ahead.The Texas Education Agency continues to work on the A-F system as required by law, agency spokeswoman Lauren Callahan said."The goal is to provide parents accurate information regarding campus and district performance," she said, adding that the agency welcomes feedback over the next several months.  Continue reading...

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