Passing with flying colors is how Dripping Springs ISD and Wimberley ISD each fared after the Texas Education Agency (TEA) last week released its 2018 A-F accountability ratings.
But concerns remain for DSISD officials who believe the system, which places an emphasis on standardized testing, is flawed.
Both Dripping Springs ISD and Wimberley ISD each scored above a 90 out of a 100 scale in the A-F system. The two districts were the highest rated in Hays County, with Hays CISD and San Marcos CISD each scoring a C grade.
TEA’s rating system utilizes three domains to measure academic performance of districts.The system ranks school districts with a report card-like grade that goes from A to F.
One of those factors is student achievement, which measures what students know and can do by the end of the year, according to the TEA website. That includes results from various state assessments, such as the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams.
Other factors include student progress, which measures the improvement students made on the STAAR test from the previous year, as well as closing the gaps, which looks at performance among student groups, including racial or ethic groups and socioeconomic background.
Legislators originally approved the A-F rating system in 2015, with plans to start using it by 2018. In 2017, the Texas Legislature approved House Bill (HB) 22, which tweaked the A-F plan.
According to the TEA website, individual campuses were rated on the current system, uses the Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required labels. The TEA plans to apply the A-F ranking system to individual campuses in 2019.
Per the TEA ratings, four of the eight DSISD campuses scored above a 90 grade.
Bruce Gearing, Dripping Springs ISD superintendent, said in an emailed response the district holds itself to a higher standard than standardized test scores can represent.
In 2016, the Dripping Springs Board of Trustees passed a resolution opposing the state’s new A-F rankings. Hays CISD’s school board also passed a resolution opposing the system that same year.
“In DSISD, we focus on learning; authentic and meaningful learning that will position each of our students to be prepared for their future, to be lifelong learners, and positive contributors to the world,” Gearing said.
Dee Howard, Wimberley ISD assistant superintendent, said in a statement the district was excited to receive its A grade. While the score is “great affirmation,” Howard said the district must “stay on its toes” and be adapt to improve educating students.
“This is great news for Wimberley ISD as we start the new school year. Thank you to our classroom teachers and students for working hard to earn this recognition. And now, with this A rating, we are motivated to make this year even better than the last one,” said Dwain York, Wimberley ISD superintendent. “Congratulations to our teachers, students, staff and administrators for excellent work.”