Texas Education Agency, commissioner temporarily blocked from revising school rating system
A Travis County judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a revised Texas school accountability rating system in response to a lawsuit from a group of more than 100 school districts.
Seven of those districts, including Del Valle ISD, sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath in August, claiming the new guidelines were released too late in violation of state law. The new standards applied to students who already graduated in 2022, before the districts knew about the change.
Since then, dozens of other districts signed on to the suit, including Pflugerville, Leander, Hutto, Hays, Bastrop, Elgin, Wimberley, Florence and Llano ISDs.
Morath and the TEA started revising the A-F accountability metrics in October 2021 and published the new calculations in January of this year. The new rules raise the thresholds for top ratings.
The changes are intended to reflect the last school year, meaning districts could face lower scores without having known about the criteria.
The TEA temporarily delayed the release of the 2022-23 school year accountability ratings in September, two weeks before they were initially planned to come out.
The temporary injunction, issued Thursday, prohibits Morath and anyone affiliated with him from assigning the new rating system for the 2022-23 school year until further order.
In a statement, the TEA confirmed the agency would appeal the decision.
“This ruling completely disregards the laws of this state and for the foreseeable future, prevents any A-F performance information from being issued to help millions of parents and educators improve the lives of our students,” the statement read. “The A-F system has been a positive force in Texas public education, supporting improved outcomes for students across the state, especially those most vulnerable.”
Critics of the revised policy are concerned the timing of the changes will hurt district ratings ahead of a special legislative session on school vouchers slated for October.
“There was a lot of speculation that the changes to the system and when they were going to be published was absolutely playing straight into the governor’s voucher push,” Kelsey Kling, government relations and policy analyst with Texas American Federation of Teachers, told KERA News.
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