Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s overall performance improved by two letter grades – from an F to a C – in the latest accountability rating released Thursday by the Texas Education Agency. The improvement is significant and indicates that the administration and teachers have embarked on a concerted effort to raise the bar for student achievement.
Under TEA’s rating system, which went into effect last year, campuses and districts receive a number score of 1 though 100, with a correlating letter grade based on three performance measurements: student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps. The last indicator measures how specific student populations perform.
The district’s overall score last year was 59, which resulted in an F. This year’s score of 77 represents a 21 point improvement. Five of the district’s campuses also showed improvement with Anthon rising from 56 to 77; Dalton also 56 to 77; Flores, 76 to 78; and Uvalde High School, 56 to 76.
Unfortunately, two campuses, Batesville and Robb Elementary, declined. Batesville fell from 64 to 49 for a score of F and Robb dropped from 56 to 51, which resulted in an F for the second year in a row.
Most school districts in the area maintained the same letter grade as last year with Knippa topping the list with an A and Leakey, Nueces Canyon, and Utopia continuing with a B grade. Sabinal jumped from a D last year to a B this year.
Critics of the A to F grading system assert that it penalizes poverty by its continued reliance on test scores. However, 68 of the state’s roughly 8,800 public schools rose from C to A in the past year and 22 of those are considered high-poverty campuses, where more than 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, in a recent story in the San Antonio Express-News, singled out Kate Schenck Elementary in San Antonio, which earned an A after improving its score from 77 to 92, despite the fact that 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.
We agree with Morath who said that “poverty is not destiny.” But we also acknowledge that children from poor families face obstacles in learning that are far more challenging than those encountered by more affluent students.
Our school district and its educators face those challenges day in and day out, and we would do well to lend them all the support we can muster, while also insisting that failing is not an option for anyone.