When the Texas Education Agency announced its yearly A through F grades for districts and schools, it was mostly good news for the Dallas Independent School District.
The district’s overall score went up five points to 86. Of the 232 Dallas ISD schools, 28 got an A, and 102 earned a B, making it 57 percent of Dallas ISD schools making above a C this year.
“Going from an 81 to an 86 district-wide is certainly something to be proud of,” Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa told the board.
“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than the state.” -Michael Hinojosa
Hinojosa said that campus grades could have been higher if it wasn’t for the district’s homegrown accountability system.
It’s more rigorous than the state’s system, he said.
“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than the state,” Hinojosa said. “We could’ve taken the easy way and had more A schools, but because we believe in more than the test, our scores weren’t quite as high as if we had just gone with the state report.”
District officials hope that its homegrown Local Accountability System for Campus Success will produce better long-term results.
“The LAS assessment domains look at how a specific school is doing based on multiple measures – whether all students are making academic progress, and the health of the school’s culture and climate,” the district explained recently.
The LAS ratings also impact decisions for individual campuses and how much autonomy a principal will get over his or her school.
The district’s standards look at more benchmarks than the state standards – for instance, whether the school is “growing its students.” Schools that are “growing students” well, the district said, have children who are showing progress no matter what level they were on when they arrived at the school.
Benchmarks such as staff culture and priorities; parental feedback; student feedback; and how many students are participating in extracurricular activities are also examined.
The TEA’s A through F grading system doles out an overall rating for a district (and campus) based on three areas: student achievement, school progress, and “closing the gaps.”
For all schools, student achievement is measured by how students performed on the STAAR test. For districts and high schools, it also includes college, career, and military readiness; as well as the four-year, five-year, and six-year graduation rates.
School progress measures how students performed over time and how that growth compares to comparable schools. “Closing the Gaps” measures the successes of different groups of students within a school.
“The majority of a district’s rating is based on indicators other than the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test,” the TEA said.