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Friday letters: Giving schools a grade by TER President Julie Linn

Houston Chronicle
April 9, 2015

Just Strategies

Regarding "Same tired ideas cloaked as education reform earn lawmakers 'F' (Page B1, April 1), Lisa Falkenberg's column attacks Sen. Larry Taylor's, R-Friendswood, bill to rate public school campuses A-F by inaccurately stating that the ratings will only reflect high-stakes test scores. In fact, Taylor's bill will not go into effect until 2017-18, after the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessment and Accountability has recommended the kinds of cutting edge assessments and metrics we need to employ. The commission will be established by another Taylor bill, SB 1200, which will require the state to consider the most meaningful ways to assess students and hold schools accountable.

Furthermore, contrary to Falkenberg's assertion, the A-F public school campus ratings will provide parents with ratings on all the components that make up the final letter grade, which currently includes student achievement, progress on closing achievement gaps and post-secondary readiness.

Falkenberg laments that students in wealthier districts routinely perform better than those in poorer districts with greater challenges, but fails to mention that even wealthy districts have poor-performing campuses. She also does not explain why all parents shouldn't be clearly informed about how their local public school is performing. If our children are graded in a transparent and easily understood manner, why shouldn't we rate our campuses in an equally transparent and understandable manner?

There is no "silver bullet" solution to the education challenges we face in Texas. A variety of tactics and strategies are needed, including transparent A-F public school campus ratings.

Julie Linn, president

Texans for Education Reform, Austin