Frisco ISD joins legal challenge against TEA over grading system

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) annually assesses schools in the Frisco Independent School District (Frisco ISD) using a grading system from A to F. This system is primarily based on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results. There is currently uncertainty surrounding the grading criteria for the academic years 2022-23 and 2023-24.

Commissioner Mike Morath and the TEA have not yet defined the assessment methods for the upcoming school ratings. Due to this, the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees has decided to join a legal challenge against the TEA, initiated by Kingsville ISD, Dallas Metro News reported. The challenge, costing between $5,000 and $10,000, is funded by Frisco ISD’s legal allocation. It focuses on the TEA’s lack of clarity regarding school performance metrics for the upcoming academic years.

The goal of this legal action is to prevent the TEA from releasing new ratings based on unclear, retrospective measures. A major point of contention is the TEA’s decision to raise the minimum score to achieve an ‘A’ grade for college, career, and military readiness (CCMR) to 88%, up from 60%. This 88% score will consider student performance from the class of 2022.

Frisco ISD emphasizes the importance of sufficient notice for implementing new standards. “Accountability is an important orienting aspect for a school district; however, the arbitrary application of new measures without the required advanced notice will potentially give the appearance that schools across the state, including Frisco ISD, are declining,” stated Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip.

Despite improved STAAR scores, Frisco ISD predicts a potential decrease in its school ratings due to changes in the accountability system. These changes could affect many Texas school districts, with some possibly seeing a drop in their letter grades.

In March 2023, Frisco ISD led an effort urging the TEA to re-evaluate the updated accountability metrics. Their request was supported by 250 Texas school districts. Although the updated accountability ratings were to be released on September 28, the TEA announced a one-month delay on September 12. The reason given was to allow more time to review the underlying data. Additionally, a court hearing regarding this matter is scheduled for September 25.

Several school districts are part of the legal action against the TEA, including Crowley ISD, Edinburg CISD, Kingsville ISD, Klein ISD, and Pflugerville ISD. In 2022, Frisco ISD earned an ‘A’ rating from the TEA, making it the highest-rated large district in North Texas.

This situation underscores the broader issues of educational accountability and the urgent need for clear guidelines from regulatory bodies.

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