HCISD gives ratings system an ‘F’: Official calls for resolution against new assessment system

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Hays CISD is planning to join a growing list of Texas school districts opposing the state’s new A-F accountability ratings, which were made public last week.

In a letter sent to parents, Hays CISD superintendent Mike McKie called the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) letter grades for Hays CISD “disappointing.” Additionally, McKie proposed the HCISD board of trustees pass a resolution to join 150 school districts statewide that are calling for repeal of the system.

According to the TEA’s preview ratings, which were released Jan. 6, Hays CISD received two “C” and two “D” ratings across four “domains” that measure accountability based on student achievement, progress, as well as closing performance gaps and post secondary readiness.

The new ratings won’t take effect until the 2018 school year, according to McKie’s letter. The reasoning for the release was to “show what schools would have achieved had the rating system been in place last school year.”

While McKie said there is room for improvement in the rankings, he said the new system is “deficient in capturing all of the positive things happening in our classrooms and in schools across the state.”

He added the current method to calculate scores relies “heavily on the high-stakes test” administered by the state.

McKie said measures should be more than one set of standardized tests that comprise 55 percent or more of the overall letter grade for a campus or district.

“Our local grading policies do not allow one test to be the majority of a grade,” McKie said in his letter. “State policies should not either.”

McKie also believes the standards for the letter grades were set by comparing scores for campuses and districts across the state, which is a “departure from the current system that compares schools with similar demographics.”

Other issues McKie addressed were campuses with higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students receiving lower grades in the district, which was expected.

Hays CISD’s possible resolution was developed by Texas Association of School Administrators and has been approved by more than 100 school districts. The district also plans to implement tenants “set forth in Creating a New Vision for Public Education,” which was developed by TASA in 2008.

“Our goal with this work is to transform education in a manner that is meaningful and that creates a high quality education system that prepares students for college and careers,” McKie said. “We embrace community-based accountability that allows districts the creativity to develop curriculum and programs that, while meeting general state standards, are important locally.”

Should the board pass the resolution, Hays CISD would join Dripping Springs ISD, which passed a similar resolution opposing the rating system in 2016.

What are the new assessments checking?

Domain I – Student achievement

Domain I measures STAAR assessment results combined across all grades and subjects. One point is awarded for each percentage of assessment results that are at or above the following:  Level II Satisfactory Standard, Postsecondary Readiness Standard and Level III Advanced Standard.

Domain II – Student progress

Domain II measures progress at the STAAR satisfactory and postsecondary readiness standards on ELA/reading and mathematics assessments. One point is awarded for each percentage of assessment results that meet or exceed progress measure expectations and one point for each percentage of assessment results that exceed progress measure expectations. Performance is calculated for ten student groups: All students, Pacific Islander, African American, White, American Indian, two or more races, Asian, students served by special education, Hispanic  and English language learners.The performance of all ten groups is combined to determine the Domain II score.

Domain III – Closing performance gaps

Domain III measures academic performance differentials among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The score is based on the relationship of a district or campus’s Domain I score and the percentage of its students who are economically disadvantaged. Using statewide data from the 2015–2016 school year, TEA determines a predicted Domain I score (using assessment results of only the economically disadvantaged subgroup), based on district or campus type and the percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged. For the purposes of calculating the Domain III score, this specialized Domain I score is referred to as the Domain IDIII score. The difference between a district or campus’s Domain IDIII. score and the predicted Domain IDIII score is the district or campus’s Domain III score. TEA provides a formula for districts and campuses to use to calculate their predicted Domain III score.

Domain IV – Postsecondary Readiness

Domain IV measures whether students are on track for success in postsecondary life, whether in college, a career, or the military.  The indicators used to measure postsecondary readiness vary by campus type.  Scores for elementary schools are based on the chronic absenteeism rate calculated by student group. Scores for middle schools are based on the chronic absenteeism rate and the annual grade 7 and 8 dropout rate, if available. If a dropout rate is not available, the Domain IV score will be based solely on the chronic absenteeism rate. High Schools, K–12 Campuses, and Districts Domain IV scores for high schools, K–12 campuses, and districts are based on graduation/dropout rates, graduation plan rates, and college and career readiness indicators.

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