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Texas Education Commission 2017 Accountability Guidelines

Unlike the previous iterations of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) accountability system, which produced annual accountability ratings for school districts and individual campuses that were at least somewhat meaningful indicators of student performance, the ratings produced by the 2013, 2014 and 2015 versions of the system are, best case, mostly meaningless, and, worst case, genuinely misleading.

With the number of accountability ratings for most Texas public schools and districts being reduced in 2013 to two, Met Standard or Improvement Required, from the previous four, Exemplary, Recognized, Academically Acceptable and Academically Unacceptable, there is far less differentiation between the ratings levels. Additionally, it now is much easier for schools and districts to earn the top rating than it was previously.

In 2011, the last year the previous version of the TEA accountability system was used, only six of fifty-three DFW schools districts received an Exemplary rating. In 2015, all of these districts were awarded the new Met Standard top rating. Similarly, for 2011, less than 24 percent of all public schools in the DFW metroplex were rated Exemplary, while in 2014, more than 90 percent of these schools received Met Standard ratings. Whether by design or not, the percentage of DFW schools receiving Met Standard ratings since 2013 are approximately the same as the aggregate percentage of schools receiving Exemplary, Recognized, and Academically Acceptable ratings in 2011.

The TEA's new two ratings approach is augmented by possible distinction designations of Top 25% Student Progress, Academic Achievement in Reading/English language arts (ELA), and Academic Achievement in Mathematics for campuses that receive a Met Standard rating. However, these campus distinction designations are based on campus performance in relation to a comparison group of 40 other public schools from anywhere in the state that the TEA considers a close match to the school in terms of campus type, percent economically disadvantaged students, mobility rates, and percent of of students with limited English proficiency. This means an otherwise generally low performing school can be awarded one or more distinction designations, so they generally are of no practical value for comparing the academic performance of students attending one DFW school to those attending another DFW school.

Another change in 2013 to the TEA accountability system was the switch to new, revamped student performance tests, now designated as State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), from the previously used Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests. As was done previously, students are tested in five subject areas: reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies.

The percentage of students meeting the STAAR achievement standards, along student demographic and other performance data, are analyzed in a variety of ways to construct a overall performance index framework comprised of four indexes: Index1: Student Achievement, Index 2: Student Progress, Index 3: Closing Performance Gaps, and Index 4: Postsecondary Readiness. Each of the four indexes has a maximum score of 100 points and the scores on all of the indexes are compared to TEA performance targets to determine the rating to be awarded to a campus or school district.

2017 TEA Accountability Framework

indexespurpose of indexminimum score for Met Standard rating
Index 1: Student Achievement Provide a snapshot of performance across subjects at the satisfactory standard. Since it has only one indicator, the Total Index Points and Index Score are the same, i.e., Index Score = Total Index Points. This metric is generally referred to as the Student Achievement Index. 60
Index 2: Student Progress Provide a measure of student progress by subject and student group independent of overall student achievement levels. 5th percentile by campus type
Index 3: Closing Performance Gaps Emphasize advanced academic achievement of economically disadvantaged student group and the lowest performing race/ethnicity student groups at each campus or district. 5th percentile by campus type
Index 4: Postsecondary Readiness Emphasize the importance for students to receive a high school diploma that provides them with the foundation necessary for success in college, the workforce, job training programs, or the military. 57

The stated design objective of the accountability framework is "to evaluate four different views of campus or district performance that communicate strengths and areas in need of improvement." It appears Index1: Student Achievement provides the means to compare the performance of students attending one school versus another, so the Student Achievement Index metric and concept are used extensively on this website. Coupled with Student Achievement data, selected metrics used for calculating Index 4: Postsecondary Readiness, specifically student performance in AP/IB and advanced/dual enrollment courses and college admissions tests, are also useful for identifying which DFW metroplex public high schools' students are best prepared for college. The mandates passed in the last Texas legislative session to develop a replacement framework were an acknowledgement that the current TEA accountability and performance reporting system does not effectively communicate individual campus and district performance information to all interested parties.

Because of the issues described above with the current approach to awarding TEA accountability ratings and distinction designations, neither accountability ratings nor distinction designations are generally noted on the pages of this website.

For additional information about current Texas Education Agency accountability and performance reporting system, see TEA 2015 Accountability Manual.

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