Abbott-O-Meter

Rate school campuses on A through F scale; require publication of campus report cards

"Many states have implemented an A through F rating system for individual campuses with great success." Each campus website should show the school's A through F rating and other indicators of success.


Subjects: Education

Updates

Abbott won approval of letter grades for individual school campuses

While running for governor, Greg Abbott said that Texas, already committed to giving letter grades to school districts, should similarly bestow grades of "A" down to "F" on individual campuses.

In his "Bicentennial Blueprint," Abbott noted the 2013 Legislature shifted state ratings of school districts to letter grades, moving away from labels ranging from "exemplary" to "unacceptable." But lawmakers stopped short of shifting to letter grades for individual campuses.

Nationally, Abbott noted, states including New Mexico, Indiana and Florida have campus letter grades in place, arguably enabling parents and others to more easily discern the qualities of different schools.

Lawmakers agreed with Abbott during the 2015 legislative session and in April 2015, after the Senate advanced its proposal to the House, we marked this promise In the Works.

Ultimately, though, the House swapped in its own proposal declaring that as of September 2017, the state will give letter grades, called "performance ratings," to campuses. House Bill 2804, which Abbott signed into law in June 2015, says the ratings can be A, B, C, D or F with only the latter two reflecting "unacceptable performance."

The law says additional A-to-F ratings are to be awarded based on each school's performance in five "domains," including student results, as well as improvement on state-required tests. Other domains center on differences in achievement among students from different racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic backgrounds; high school dropout and graduation rates; and community engagement, the law says. (See a Texas Education Agency summary of the domains here.)

We newly rate this an Abbott Promise Kept.


Promise Kept — Promises earn this rating when the original promise is mostly or completely fulfilled.

We wrote on April 14, 2015:

Texas, already committed to giving letter grades to school districts, should similarly bestow grades of "A" down to "F" on individual campuses, Greg Abbott vowed while running for governor.

In his "Bicentennial Blueprint," Abbott noted the 2013 Legislature shifted state ratings of school districts to letter grades, moving away from labels ranging from "exemplary" to "unacceptable." But lawmakers stopped short of shifting to letter grades for individual campuses.

Nationally, Abbott noted, states including New Mexico, Indiana and Florida have campus letter grades in place, arguably enabling parents and others to more easily discern the qualities of different schools.

By a margin of 20-10, and along party lines, the Republican-steered Texas Senate on March 31, 2015, sent the House its proposal to require letter grades for individual schools.

The day before, the Dallas Morning News reported 16 states already annually give letter grades to campuses. Its news story said data presented in a committee hearing on the Senate proposal indicated that among the lowest-performing schools in Texas, those most likely to get hit with D's and F's under the change, an average of 86 percent of students are classified as educationally disadvantaged — primarily children from lower-income families or those with a limited command of English.

Senators tweaked the original measure, though, by delaying implementation to 2017-18, according to an Austin American-Statesman news story. "That will give lawmakers time to fix the state's much-maligned standardized testing system on which the letter grades would be based," the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said. The story said Taylor had filed another measure to create a special committee to recommend a new testing system by September 2016, a few months before the 2017 regular legislative session.

We're rating this previously unrated Promise In the Works.

Sources:

Document, "Bicentennial Blueprint, Greg Abbott's Working Texans Plan," Oct. 28, 2013

News story, "Texas Senate endorses letter grades for schools," Dallas Morning News, March 30, 2015

News story, "Texas Senate approves bill to give schools letter grades," Austin American-Statesman, March 30, 2015

Document, "Governor Abbott's Bicentennial Blueprint Legislation," Gov. Greg Abbott, June 2015

Legislation, House Bill 2804, 2015 regular legislative session, Texas Legislature Online (accessed Nov. 30, 2015)