ATPE Urges Caution in Interpreting Results of A-F Rating System

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued the first round of A-F letter-grade ratings to Texas public school districts on Aug. 15. ATPE has long voiced concerns about utilizing an A-F rating system for the Texas public school system and now urges further study of the new system’s impact.

“Educators across Texas have opposed assigning overly simplistic letter grades that may unfairly label schools and their staff and students as failures,” said Jennifer Mitchell, ATPE Governmental Relations Director. “Many educators worry that A-F will stigmatize schools with accountability grades based disproportionately upon data from high-stakes standardized tests.”

The new “A-F” accountability rating system was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 and modified in 2015 and 2017. The system relies upon largely test-based formulas to designate each district and campus a letter grade. The initial district ratings will apply to the 2017-18 school year.

Individual campuses will continue to receive ratings based on the older “Met Standard/Improvement Required” system until the first campus A-F ratings are released in August 2019. On a positive note, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath recently reported that Texas saw a historic reduction in the number of campuses identified as requiring improvement for the 2017-18 school year. A total of 260 campuses showed notable improvement from one year to the next.

“ATPE recognizes that under any accountability system so heavily determined by test scores, there will be winners and losers,” said Mitchell. “It is important not to overestimate the significance of poor grades assigned to some school districts, but it is equally vital to look behind the letter grades of those schools that have shown improvement. Additional study, much like research commissioned by ATPE in the past to examine the factors influencing successful school turnaround, is warranted with the roll-out of this new system.”

For more on the A-F accountability system, visit ATPE’s advocacy blog at

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