Texas released its public-school accountability ratings yesterday for schools and school districts. Dallas ISD, Austin ISD, and El Paso scored a B, San Antonio ISD scored a C, while Houston was exempt from the rating because of Hurricane Harvey, see more here: (TEA Releases School Ratings). Near Austin, Del Valle ISD received a rating of D.
It needs to be said that these so-called "report cards" do not reflect what is taking place in the classroom or the situation in which each school finds itself or the school’s particular needs. A single grade for an entire school tells us nothing about the resources available, how much teacher turnover has taken place, the number of special needs students served, or the student poverty level at the school.
In Eastern Travis County, Del Valle ISD, arguably the least well-resourced school district in Central Texas, scored a D, notwithstanding its high population of poorly resourced students, high number of non-naïve speakers of English, and diminished learning opportunities relative to Western Travis County peers. The good work that is done in Del Valle ISD by its hardworking teachers goes un-reflected in this fatally flawed accountability system because of the gross limitations of a slick and convenient catch-all grade.
Beyond the inability of a single grade to capture what take place in a school, the system is designed to bludgeon schools with difficult challenges and high numbers of disadvantaged students. The purpose of this is not to provide transparency, it does not, the purpose of this system is to facilitate privatization. This system is designed to demonize schools based on fatally flawed measures so that communities shun the public school allowing for their privatization.
To be clear, schools must be held accountable, but this is not the way to do it. When as school is labeled failing, communities begin to give up on those schools, parent support dwindles as parents chose alternatives, and funding is withdrawn. Branding schools failures does not shame or goad school personnel to suddenly perform, these ratings simply reflect the schools with the greatest challenges.