MCISD slams accountability rating system

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Madisonville CISD board members reviewed state accountability ratings on Monday and noted that the system is flawed and does not accurately gauge the local education level – a sentiment expressed by more than 500 Texas districts and the Texas Association of School Boards this week.

Superintendent Keith Smith said the rating system is a tool used by politicians to undermine public education, privatize the system, pass a voucher bill and take the authority of educating a community’s students away from the community and put in the hands of private companies.

“It’s just not fair,” Smith said. “In this system, an A stands for an affluent community and an F stands for a community on free and reduced lunch.”

Madisonville CISD is 72 percent economically disadvantaged. The rating system, however, assumes that all students are equal.

“They make a special ed student take the same test as a gifted and talented student, and they have to make the same grade to pass,” Smith said. “This is not about student progress. It’s about comparing school districts and communities.”

The ratings are broken down into “domains,” three of which make up 55 percent of the accountability system and are based on one test given on one day. The fourth domain covers attendance, dropout rate, dual credit classes, course sequence and whether certification is received from vocational classes. 

While Madisonville High School made Cs across the board in each domain, comparable schools Cameron, Coldspring, Connally, Groesbeck, Jasper, Navasota, Shepherd, Trinity and Woodville racked up Ds and Fs.

The Madisonville school board on Monday passed a resolution in an attempt to send a message to the state legislature that they disapprove of the current A-F rating system. Furthermore, the superintendent and other administrators are meeting with principals at each campus and “educating them on how to respond and react.” They also plan to reach out to organizations such as retired teacher groups and the local Lions Club.

“It is time for our schools and communities to cry foul,” Smith said. “It is time for the state of Texas to realize that fairness is the basis of human cooperation and unfairness for discrimination is the basis of most conflict. It is time for our government leaders to treat public schools fairly and stop demonizing them in the name of politics and profit. Most importantly, it is time for our community to let the legislature know their wishes for their schools. A fair accountability system and the resources needed to support education for all. It is because of these reasons our school board chose to adopt the resolution at our last meeting.”

Superintendent Smith joined hundreds of other officials across the state this week in criticizing the system.

Texas Association of School Boards executive director James B. Crow said in a statement that the legislature’s concept of grading schools on an A-F scale is “flawed.”

“These new A-F ratings are just a symptom of the larger sickness: an unhealthy fixation on standardized testing and standardized expectations,” Crow said. “There are 1,028 school districts in Texas, and no two are exactly the same. Trying to apply the same accountability measures primarily based on one standardized test is a disservice to our kids, their families and our educators. It’s time the armchair educators stop trying to find new ways to sell tests, test preparation and test administration. It’s time to consider our students and schools as more than just a grade.”

In other matters on Monday, the school board:

  • Recognized students of the month Walter Hernandez (high school), Emanuel Guevara (junior high), Victor Michel (elementary) and Angel Hernandez (intermediate).
  • Recognized employees of the month first grade teacher’s aide Donna McKenzie and elementary reading specialist Amy Farris.

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