More Than a Grade
An Open Letter to our Community:
The new accountability system featuring A-F ratings will be released to the public tomorrow. This is a provisional, “what if”, letter grade. It shows what grade the district and campuses would have received if this system had been in place for the 2015-2016 school year. Fifty-five percent of this grade is based on student test scores. Thirty-five percent is based on postsecondary readiness skills, which includes student attendance, advanced courses, college credit, graduating on time, industry certification, and advanced diploma plans. The final domain, community and student engagement, accounts for ten percent, but is not included in this year’s report.
Education and student learning is very complex and to suggest that a single letter grade, based primarily on test scores, can accurately measure the quality of our schools is a misrepresentation. The STAAR test has drawn much criticism over the past several years as an invalid and unreliable measure of accountability, yet this is being used as a basis for defining school districts. A student’s school experience is much greater than a state assessment. There are many factors involved in educating students, such as fine arts, extracurricular activities, college coursework, career education, advanced coursework and community involvement. Quinlan ISD students are consistently succeeding and excelling in all of these areas. This new system, involving complicated data formulas, cannot possibly reflect the quality of a district or community.
A-F systems have been used in several other states and have not worked. Virginia repealed its rating system in 2015, because they determined that the letter grades could be stigmatizing and harmful to schools. Oklahoma found that test scores stagnated or declined after implementing the A-F system, and there are many other examples. A-F systems do not account for varying socioeconomic variables that influence student performance and generally align with wealth or poverty. This system is designed to rank and compare schools and districts, not to reflect what they truly are.
Quinlan ISD teachers, students, employees, families and our community work hard to provide a quality education for our students. Parents/guardians can help by stressing the importance of education, attendance, completing work, attending tutorials and being involved in school activities. QISD will continue to move forward and improve in ALL areas, in order to meet the needs of the “whole” student. We stand united and will not allow a grade to define who we are.
Our children are more than just a grade.
Debra Crosby, Ed.D.
Quinlan ISD Superintendent