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Governor wants Texas schools to get letter grades for performance

Dallas Morning News
February 17, 2015

By Terrence Stutz

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday endorsed legislation that would for the first time assign letter grades to Texas public school campuses based on their academic performance.

In a budget summary that accompanied his state-of-the-state address, Abbott said the state should require “that each public school publish an A-F report card on its campus website.” The purpose, the Republican said, is to “ensure that parents, students and teachers have better access to valuable information about their school’s performance.”

State lawmakers considered such a requirement in their 2013 session, but dropped the idea because of strong opposition from school districts and public education groups. Critics argued that letter grades could stigmatize low-achievement campuses.

Abbott also proposed action aimed at failing schools. “To prevent students from being stuck in failing schools, the state should empower parents to petition to change campus management at underachieving schools,” said his budget summary. Lawmakers are expected to consider such “parent trigger” proposals during their session.

In addition, the governor supported creation of an “Achievement School District” to manage the state’s lowest performing elementary schools and provide special attention for their students. Lawmakers considered such a plan two years ago, but failed to pass the legislation.

His budget also includes $182 million for prekindergarten programs and specialized training for teachers in prekindergarten through third grade. Another $164 million is proposed for digital instruction, targeting low-performing schools and to help high school students be successful on state end-of-course exams.