Several school districts file lawsuit against TEA on recent changes to state’s public school accountability system

School education generic (WDIV)

HOUSTON – Representatives of several school districts have filed a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency following the recent changes to the state public school accountability system.

A news conference was held Friday morning in Austin.

On Thursday night, a judge granted a temporary injunction in Travis County Court and blocked Texas Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, from changing the way the Texas Education Agency assigns Texas schools A-F letter grade ratings.

Because of the ruling, families will now have to wait even longer to see where their child’s school ranks in the state.

More than 100 Texas school districts sued over anticipated changes on the scoring. Two Houston-area schools have also joined the lawsuit, including Spring Branch and Alief Independent school districts.

In September, KPRC 2 reported on the lawsuit, which asked TEA to hold off on implementing the new system so that districts have time to make the necessary changes in order to comply with the new accountability measures.

Districts across the state had vocalized concerns that the TEA’s new accountability system would lead to unfair rating drops for some schools. For instance, under a previous scale, a campus would receive an “A” if 60% of students went to college, got a non-college career or joined the military. The new system however would raise that benchmark to 88%.

School leaders said the increase is too much of a change and will hurt their scores.

The representatives released the following statement:

“On behalf of public school superintendents, boards of trustees, and all the students, teachers, and staff of the great state of Texas whom we serve, we are united here together on the steps of the Travis County Courthouse to announce that we are pleased with the judge’s ruling of the temporary injunction prohibiting the release of TEA’s A-F ratings for the 2022-2023 school year. We look forward to future conversations with Commissioner of Education Mike Morath about how to implement the assessment and accountability system in a manner that is fair and transparent for all school districts in the State of Texas.”

TEA announced that it would appeal the lawsuit.

The Texas Education Agency released the following statement to KPRC 2:

“This ruling completely disregards the laws of this state and for the foreseeable future, prevents any A-F performance information from being issued to help millions of parents and educators improve the lives of our students. The A-F system has been a positive force in Texas public education, supporting improved outcomes for students across the state, especially those most vulnerable.

“There have been many constructive conversations about the methodology with districts and among legislators. Though about 10% of our school system leaders disagreed with the methods used in A-F enough to file this lawsuit, the complete absence of public performance information means that 100% of our school systems cannot take actions based on these ratings, stunting the academic growth of millions of Texas kids.

“TEA will appeal this decision immediately.”

KPRC 2 Reporter Brittany Jeffers has reached out to Alief ISD for commentary on the lawsuit and will continue to keep you updated for any new developments.

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