Texas superintendents weigh in on new school ranking system

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Texas may soon have a new school rating system, and the announcement is sitting well with two local superintendents.

Texas' new education commissioner, Michael Williams, is making the proposal. Williams said he wants schools to be held more accountable when it comes to closing the minority achievement gap between white and minority students. The superintendents we spoke to say this change is a step in the right direction.

Students currently attending Texas schools must take part in state mandated tests Which factor into a school and districts rating score.

"We do believe one test, one day does not make a good indicator of how well school districts are doing," Superintendent Pete Slaughter said.

Whitesboro Superintendent Pete Slaughter and Denison ISD Superintendent Dr. Henry Scott both say the rating system needs improving. Schools are essentially rated on a variety of different sub groups. Even if all but one are rated exemplary, it's the lowest group's score that accounts for the entire school rating.

"95 percent of your students can be doing great as judged by the state test. And you have one sub group and one test that scores low. It effects your entire accountability rating," Denison ISD Superintendent Dr. Henry Scott said. "You can go from a high performing to a low performing because of just a handful of students."

"To us, that's unfair," Slaughter said.

Education Commissioner, Michael Williams, is planning to revise the rating system. The new system would have four indicators: student progress, student achievement, post-graduation preparedness and his main focus, closing the gap for minority and economically disadvantaged students --who now make up 60 percent of the state's student population.

"There is a gap in achievement and it shows up in all of the areas of our system," Dr. Scott said.

Commissioner Williams says as the number of black and Hispanic students statewide grows, they continue to struggle more than white students on standardized tests. The new rating system will hold schools accountable and aim to close the gap.

"We're not opposed to an accountability system at all. We want to be held accountable. We want to know where the areas are that we need to address as a district so that we can focus in on those areas and improve. That's our whole goal," Slaughter said.

Commissioner Williams plans to put the new rating system in effect by March 2013. No word yet on what type of grading scale or other measure the new rating system will follow.


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