MIDLOTHIAN

The Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees want teachers to know that they stand with the district, not the state, on the A-F accountability ratings.

Last year, Texas legislature passed HB22, which evaluates school districts and campuses with A—F ratings based on the areas of student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps, according to the Texas Education Agency’s website. Districts such as MISD will receive their ratings later this month, while campuses will receive theirs in August 2019.

Even though Midlothian ISD exceeds state and regional expectations in 22 tested areas, the trustees nevertheless released a statement Tuesday criticizing STAAR and EOC testing, which they say is a flawed system in measuring student growth and learning.

MISD Superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter said while he believes in accountability, he sees no evidence that this system will improve the performance or help students with their education.

“We’re not putting up a banner that says we received an ‘A’ from the Texas accountability system,” Ledbetter said. “We’re certainly not going to put up a banner that says we received an 'F' from the Texas accountability system because we don’t value it. We value it for helping individual kids grow individually, assessment-wise and instructionally.”

Ledbetter said to the trustees that they could pursue higher scores on the accountability ratings if they wanted to, but it would come at the expense of personalized learning for students they’ve worked towards for the last three years.

“I don’t want that to be our message to our community,” Ledbetter said. “I certainly don’t want that to be our message to our teachers. I stood in front of new teachers yesterday and said ‘We’re more than a test.’ We’re going to focus on other measures.”

Board president Matt Sanders said the formula used to calculate scores is complicated and confusing to understand. A sample graphic shows 16 factors being used to compute accountability ratings, including campus size, enrollment numbers and grades.

Ledbetter said it is possible they can get low grades in some tested areas.

“We didn’t have all our kids taking nine hours in dual credit,” Ledbetter said. “We didn’t have all our kids taking AP courses. We didn’t have all our kids taking AP tests if they were in AP courses. We don’t even know the rules to the game that we’re playing.”

Chief communications officer Karen Permetti followed Ledbetter’s comments, saying that pilots study a manual before taking the test to get their flying license.

“Here, our teachers are pilots without a manual,” Permetti added.

Ledbetter said the accountability ratings are an effort by the state to continue to be cynical about public schools.

Sanders asked when it was the board’s turn to grade the state.

“Can we give them a rating,” he asked. “Can we give them an 'A' to an 'F'? What would that be? 'F' on funding? 'F' on accountability? 'F' on basically everything else? They have no idea what it is to run an independent school district.”

Sanders said the only organization that profits from accountability ratings are the testing companies – not the students, teachers and parents that are being tested.

“We’re more than a letter grade put on this campus and on this district,” Ledbetter said.

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David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX

469-517-1456