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New A-F rating system earns an F from Friends of Texas Public Schools

John Tanner, a member of the Friends of Texas Public Schools board of directors and executive director of Test Sense, recently wrote a thoroughly researched paper titled “The A-F Accountability Mistake”, published by the Texas Association of School Administrators. In this paper, Tanner states, “It is imperative that stakeholders know that the research is clear: A-F school rating systems fail as an indicator of school quality, but there is evidence that supports more meaningful kinds of accountability systems.”

The following is the introduction to John’s 12 page essay:

The A-F Accountability Mistake
John Tanner, Test Sense November 2016

In fall 2017, Texas will join 16 other states in implementing a public school rating system that assigns letter grades to schools and districts. By December 1, 2016, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must adopt indicators showing how the A-F ratings will be determined, and by January 1, 2017, TEA must submit a report to the Texas House and Senate Education Committees showing the ratings that schools and districts would have been given if the system had been in place for the 2015–16 school year.

As we begin this important rule-making period, and as another Texas Legislature with the authority to change the law that established Texas’ A-F system prepares to meet, it is imperative that stakeholders know that the research is clear: A-F school rating systems fail as an indicator of school quality, but there is evidence that supports more meaningful kinds of accountability systems.

This essay provides an overview of A-F systems and their failures. In addition, to question A-F systems is to question test-based accountability, and criticisms of controversial topics are most likely to be heard when solutions accompany the critique, so this essay is the first of three in the Texas Accountability Series, published by the Texas Association of School Administrators. The other essays in the series cover: why, to be meaningful, school accountability must be community-based and not solely focused on compliance with state testing mandates (see “Creating a Meaningful CommunityBased Accountability System”); and the misfit of state testing programs with school accountability (see “The Misfit Between Testing and Accountability”). Each of these essays was written by John Tanner, executive director of Test Sense and author of The Pitfalls of Reform.

As additional issues related to school accountability arise, the series will be continued to ensure that Texas educators have the information they need to work with policymakers and the public in a meaningful way.

Click here to read the entire essay. (PDF)

SOURCE: tasanet.org