Off the hook
The yearly “accountability” ratings issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) each August usually create a great deal of anxiety among school districts.
That’s because those ratings attempt the impossible, to characterize whether or not a school district, or a campus, is doing a good—even adequate—job of educating its students with one thumbs-up or thumbs-down score.
Frankly, not a lot of people pay much attention to the ratings unless their school is on the “bad list.”
Unfortunately, more attention than usual got paid to the Rockdale ISD over the past couple of years. After a string of good ratings, RISD got one that wasn’t quite so good in 2011. That’s been pretty well documented.
The district said it knew there were some problems but produced evidence it said showed it was actually doing a better job than the state ratings concluded.
Now here comes the crazy part. RISD went to work to make its next ratings better and eliminate the stigma that went with getting an unacceptable mark.
And what did the state do? Well, imagine a baseball game in which you get behind by a run and the umpire says, “Aw, that’s too bad. Oh by the way, we’re not going to let you bat for the next couple of innings.”
That’s what happened to the Rockdale ISD. No matter how much improvement it made from 2011 to 2012 it “wouldn’t count” because the state didn’t issue any ratings last year, part of the changeover from one test to another.
And in the interim, Rockdale turned up on other lists without any new data being generated, all based on those 2011 scores. Many people didn’t know that was the case or chose to ignore it.
But two weeks ago RISD finally got its next turn “at bat.” And did quite well, thank you. Not only did the district meet all the new standards, the junior-high earned a distinction in the field of reading and English.
Here’s betting the RISD “rally” continues in 2014.—M.B.