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Court Sides With Frisco ISD, Other Texas ISDs Over TEA’s Rating System

A judge from Travis County ordered a temporary injunction prohibiting the agency from releasing the scores
Photo: Ground Picture | Shutterstock

Judge Catherine Mauzy from Travis County temporarily prohibited the Texas Education Agency (TEA) from releasing the A-F school ratings, siding with the school districts that filed a lawsuit against TEA Commissioner Mike Morath for failing to adequately notify school districts of the changes made to accountability ratings.

The court order, released on Oct. 26, 2023, argued that the implementation of the A-F Accountability System for the 2022-23 school year is unlawful since the changes introduced are beyond the TEA’s authority and that it would cause irreparable harm to Texas school districts. Consequently, a temporary injunction will remain in effect until the court emits the final order on the matter. 

After the court released the order, the TEA announced its intention to “immediately” appeal to the judge’s decision. 

“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,” said the TEA in a statement obtained by KVUE. “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.”

The A-F grade rating system relies on performance measures, methods and procedures based on student’s performance during the annual standardized assessment (STAAR). 

As previously reported by Local Profile, in September 2023, Frisco ISD joined several school districts in Texas to protest the TEA’s decision to retroactively change the accountability performance measures, methods and procedures applied for 2022-23 without adequately notifying school districts. The change introduced to the system was an increase in the threshold for college, career and military readiness scores from 60% to 80%. 

In 2022, Frisco ISD was the largest school district in North Texas to receive an “A” accountability rating score from the TEA, but with the modification, the system is anticipated to reduce the rating for Frisco ISD and other school districts across Texas.

“Accountability is an important orienting aspect for a school district; however, the arbitrary application of new measures without the required advanced notice will potentially give the appearance that schools across the state, including Frisco ISD, are declining,” said Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip at the time the lawsuit was filed. “Moving the goalposts arbitrarily is unfair to our students and teachers.”

The new accountability ratings for Texas schools were supposed to be released on Sept. 28, 2023, but following the lawsuit, TEA decided to postpone the publication of the scores for a month with the intention to re-examine the baseline data utilized in the calculations. After the recent court rule, the scores will remain undisclosed until the court’s final order. 

“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,” the TEA’s statement concluded.