Kilgore ISD’s state-assigned accountability rating is now available to view online, along with the ratings of every Texas school district.

An online tool provided by the Texas Tribune called the Texas Public Schools Explorer allows users to search for any public school district in the state and instantly see its letter-grade ranking. In early April, the tool was updated to display ratings based on data from the 2017-18 school year. Letter-grade rankings were rolled out last year but the Tribune’s tool makes them more easily accessible for parents, guardians, teachers or anyone else interested in the state’s rating of a district.

Texas Education Agency introduced letter grades for school districts last August. It replaced a “pass/fail” system which had been in place for years and state officials hoped the A-F accountability ratings would be more transparent, making it easier for parents and guardians to choose where to enroll their children.

Under the letter system, each district is assigned an overall grade, which is based on three other categories: student achievement, school progress and “Closing the Gaps”. Whichever score is highest between student achievement and school progress counts for 70 percent of the overall grade and the remaining 30 percent is based on a district’s “Closing the Gaps” score.

Student achievement is a measure of a district’s performance on annual STAAR standardized tests, school progress focuses no how much students have improved over test scores from previous years and “Closing the Gaps” rates a district based on how well it serves minority student populations based on race and income.

District accountability grades for local schools are mostly passing but few are top-notch. Kilgore ISD ranked a C, as did Sabine ISD and West Rusk ISD. Overton ISD rated a D and Leverett’s Chapel ISD was the standout with an A.

School officials at several area districts have decried the letter-grade rankings, saying they oversimplify the big picture of what makes a school district successful.

Back in August, when TEA first released the grades, a KISD statement said their grade missed the mark.

“We do not believe one-day or one-time test results should be a major factor in rating a campus or a school district,” the statement read. “The use of complicated calculations based solely on standardized tests is not an accurate description of the teaching and learning at any campus in Kilgore ISD. We will continue to provide quality instruction and learning opportunities for our students that are aligned with state standards and meet the social, environmental and educational needs of our students.”

Sabine ISD released a similar statement, pointing to outstanding student achievements as an example of success in their district.

“The Sabine ISD board of trustees and the community have made it very clear that teaching to the test is not what is wanted in our district. These tests do not take into account that Sabine ISD won FIVE academic state championships this past year alone. Also, Sabine ISD was the 3A State Champions in UIL Academics this year. We will take that any day! Maybe we have a different idea of what student success looks like than TEA does!” read a statement from Superintendent Stacey Bryce.

For now, individual campuses within a district are still rated as “Met Standard” or “Needs Improvement” and only districts are assigned letter grades as a whole.

To access, the Public Schools Explorer, visit https://schools.TexasTribune.org and type in the name of a district in the search bar near the top of the page.

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