TEA restarts faulty school ratings while poll shows vast majority of Texans want process to opt-out of STAAR

The already-flawed A-F school accountability rating system—based heavily on STAAR scores—will re-launch this year after the Texas Education Agency halted it at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. However, only schools meeting the requirements to achieve an A-C will receive a rating, while D and F campuses will be labeled “Not Rated.” That change will allow campuses that were on a path toward sanctions with D or F ratings to have a reprieve this year, but it doesn’t fix the defects of a system that uses flawed standardized testing to unfairly punish schools and districts. (The change for “Not Rated” was required by legislation from last session, SB 1365.)

Sanctions for ongoing D or F ratings include closing a campus, turning it over to a charter school, or having the state take over the entire school district, even if just one campus doesn’t meet the state requirements.

Texas AFT has strongly condemned the administration of STAAR last year and this year and the use of its scores in any way, because the chaos of the Omicron surge will produce predictable results—students without the consistent instruction and resources they needed to meet the required STAAR scores. While TEA officials claim the results are necessary to gauge learning loss from the pandemic, they are basing their assertions on a test that doesn’t adequately measure student growth even in normal times. Other critics of the tweaked A-F re-launch noted that they can still be penalized for dropping from a higher rating to a lower in the A-C range, and campuses that move from an F to a D get no credit.

A-F ratings do not adequately describe district or campus performance, but it’s clear that TEA is ready to move back to full support of the ill-designed system. Texans, however, overwhelmingly see the faults with STAAR and its destructive impact on instruction. A recent Parent PAC poll showed that 62% of likely voters support allowing parents to opt their children out of standardized testing without penalty, including 75% of Texas parents.