No Answers On Accountability Ratings As State Testing Begins
This week, many of the more than one million students impacted by Hurricane Harvey will be taking the state’s standardized tests. Meanwhile, school superintendents are still waiting for answers about how those tests will impact school ratings.
In a letter to school districts in the disaster declaration areas, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced no decision on accountability ratings has been made. However, he is waiving some requirements for students impacted by Harvey.
Under normal circumstances, fifth- and eighth-grade students, who have to pass the STAAR reading and math tests to graduate, get three chances to pass. If that student fails the third attempt, they cannot graduate unless a committee agrees to promote them. However, Morath announced students who fail a second time can graduate, as long as the district officials agree they are ready.
We talked with Dr. Daniel Bowen, assistant professor in Educational Administration and Human Resource Development. He says, while collecting the data necessary for determining ratings could be valuable, the problem arises in assigning grades, sanctions or repercussions to those schools serving affected students.
“It’s unjust because of the fact that I don’t think you can rightfully compare schools in other parts of the state that weren’t affected in the same way.”
An updated system for rating schools and districts was approved by the Texas Legislature last year. Right now, school districts get a label of “met requirement” or “did not meet requirement.” The first A-F grades for districts are set to be announced in August.
At a House Public Education Committee hearing in November, superintendents asked the state to waive the accountability ratings that are tied to students’ scores on state standardized tests this year, because of Hurricane Harvey.
In the letter to districts, Morath said he is collecting information on students and staff impacted by the storm as well as facility damages and will be using that data to make a decision on accountability rules. He wrote, “In the meantime, we will be asking for a waiver from certain federal accountability/school improvement requirements to ensure the state has maximum flexibility as any decisions are made.”
Superintendents argue the ratings will not be an accurate representation of how schools are doing based on Harvey and the ongoing recovery.
Dr. Bowen points to research that has shown where student performance suffers when missing school due to inclement weather; which means decreases in accountability ratings that are entirely out of the control of affected campuses.
“I think it’s worthwhile for students to take the tests because we still need to track progress. While the increasing emphasis on standardized testing has come under a great deal of criticism, it is important to distinguish the collection and analysis of valuable educational data from accountability-based sanctions,” added Dr. Bowen. “Education researchers and policymakers can use test data to more-effectively serve affected students. But, immediately tying sanctions and evaluations to schools that were severely impacted – I don’t know if that’s necessarily the right approach.”
The College of Education and Human Development rankings continue to rise in most recent 2022 U.S. News and World Report rankings.
A $14.86M grant awarded to Dr. Kay Wijekumar and her team at Texas A&M University looks to implement and improve intelligent tutoring systems to help increase reading comprehension for 4th and 5th grade students.
Dr. Fuhui Tong, along with two other Texas A&M researchers, are creating at-home based literacy practices to help improve the lives of low-SES families in rural China
Dr. Kim Alexander, CEO of Collegiate Edu-Nation, is named as the 2021 Golden Deeds for Education Award recipient for his contributions to improving public education in Texas.
A grant-funded initiative is helping Bryan ISD Spanish-speaking parents receive research-based professional education workshops in their native language.
Recent research by Dr. Marlene Dixon in the Department of Health & Kinesiology sheds light on the realities of careers in the sport industry.
Dr. Dean Charles Corrigan, former dean of the College of Education and Human Development, passed away November 7 at his home in Middlebury, VT. He was 91 years old.
The structured life of military service can be a shocking contrast to the self-directed environment of higher education. Research by a Texas A&M scholar is hoping to help veterans meet the challenges of their transitions.
A new $1.2M grant awarded to Dr. Florina Erbeli in the Department of Educational Psychology is creating a doctoral training program in special education.
Faculty and students in The Laboratory for Community Health Evaluation & Systems Science are collaborating with organizations in Oklahoma aimed at reducing teen pregnancy and improving adolescent health.