The release of the 2022 Accountability Ratings showed that many Texas districts and campuses made impressive gains, thanks to the hard work of educators and students. The STAAR tests remain the primary factor in campus and district A-F ratings, although other essential factors contribute to school quality but are not measured by our accountability system, such as access to extracurricular and enrichment programs, workforce and college readiness results, and equitable opportunities for all students.

The 2022 accountability results renewed conversations about the relationship between family income, STAAR assessment results, and A-F letter grades. As Commissioner Morath said in his remarks to the State Board of Education’s August meeting, statistically the correlation between family income and STAAR results is .33, which is not a strong correlation. However, Dee Carney, HillCo consultant and accountability expert, noted that a .33 correlation is considered “statistically moderate.” Dee created a regression model analysis of the 2022 A-F accountability ratings in Texas schools, pictured below. This model shows that schools enrolling 20% or fewer economically disadvantaged students are far more likely to receive an A rating, while those that enroll more than 80% economically disadvantaged students rarely receive an A. This model was also consistent with a 2019 analysis.  Further, Dee notes that “almost all (86%) of the schools rated D or F enroll 60 to 100% economically disadvantaged students,” which exceeds the statewide average of 60% economically disadvantaged students. Conversely, of the 616 A rated schools in the state, 488 enrolled fewer than 20% economically disadvantaged students.

High performing, high-poverty campuses exist: of the 2,294 A-rated schools, 511 are considered “high poverty, high performing” with  80—100% economically disadvantaged students. Of these 511 schools, approximately 70% are elementary schools, 15% are high schools, and about 10% are middle schools. In a recent article, the Texas Tribune reported that, “Across the state, data shows that only 18% of campuses labeled ‘high poverty’ received A ratings. In Region One, about 35% of school districts considered high poverty received A grades, among the highest percentage in the state.” Many of the high-poverty campuses that were rated A or B did so on the basis of the student growth measure, which can be difficult to sustain over time.

As the legislature considers how to refresh the A-F accountability system, they will be meeting with the new Texas Accountability Advisory Group and hearing from stakeholders. Brian Woods, Northside ISD superintendent and President of the Texas School Alliance, states “that while it is understandable and reasonable for everyone to be proud of academic growth, especially after the last couple of years, it is important that educators, parents, community members and policy makers understand the limitations of the current STAAR accountability rating system and continue working towards a school rating system that measures more than a test score and can be understood by parents, students, tax payers, and lawmakers.”

Read more in the Texas Tribune

Learn more on the TEA Website