The Texas Education Agency has recently released “mock” ratings of the A-F Accountability Ratings for Districts and Campuses across Texas. These ratings are mandated by HB 2804 which was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature. Official ratings will be released in August 2018.

As you might expect, school officials across Texas are concerned about these ratings because they are based upon incomplete 2015-16 data and cannot be regarded as a reliable benchmark for accountability. As a district, we feel that the A-F Accountability System is a flawed methodology that greatly disadvantages districts and schools with social, economic and language barriers while placing too much weight on a once-a-year, multiple-choice bubble test. I have long believed and communicated that this is not an accurate measure of a student’s academic ability or a representation of a campus or district’s performance.

Many people, including myself, believe the state has already established a more comprehensive method of rating schools. The Community and Student Engagement (CASE) ratings provide a thorough look at schools and school districts. You may remember me writing and talking about the CASE ratings in August 2016. If our mission is to evaluate and improve the teaching and learning process so that students are provided a complete education, then the CASE ratings are a good measure of how a school district or a campus prepares a student for more than a single test.

In my opinion, what makes the CASE system unique, effective and much more accurate is the fact that each campus is rated on multiple aspects of the educational experience our staff provides and on our students’ experiences. The CASE report is much more meaningful and useful to our students, teachers, parents and community members than a single test score. Meaningful community and student engagement is perhaps the most critical component that contributes to the overall success of students. All school districts in Texas are required to assign a performance rating of Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable or Unacceptable to the district and to each campus for overall performance in eight categories.

I am pleased to share that Alief ISD earned an Exemplary district rating overall and Exemplary in the categories of Fine Arts, 21st Century Workforce Development, Wellness and Physical Education, Community and Parental Involvement and Dropout Prevention. The district earned a Recognized rating in Gifted and Talented, Second Language Acquisition and Digital Learning.

As I mentioned, I genuinely believe that these Community and Student Engagement ratings provide a much more comprehensive picture of the accomplishments of a school district as well as areas we need to improve. I have said many times that a single test score does not give an accurate snapshot of how a campus or a school district is performing.

Please check the district website – Alief ISD for detailed CASE ratings for each campus. I believe you will find these campus reports very interesting as well as informative. These ratings are much more detailed than just a letter grade with no explanation as to the method used to assign that letter grade.