There is much to celebrate with the latest Texas Education Agency (TEA) academic accountability ratings that were released last week. More charter campuses than ever, 538 in all, achieved Met Standard or Alternative Standard accountability, while the number of charter holders meeting standard increased to 85 percent, a 4.8 percent increase over the years from 2013-2017.

The gap between the performance of ISDs and charters is closing rapidly as well. Using an “apples to apples” comparison that removes “not rated” campuses from the denominator for ISDs and charters, 91.4 percent of all charter campuses achieved Met Standard in 2017 while 95.7 percent of ISD campuses did the same, a 4.3 percent difference. That’s a great deal of improvement since the year 2013 when, using this same methodology, the Met Standard difference between charter and ISD campuses was 11.8 percent. The same improvement is seen comparing charter holders to ISDs, with a 6.7 percent difference in Met Standard ratings between the two groups in 2017, compared to an 11.2 percent difference in 2013.

The recently released Stanford University Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) study confirms this improvement in performance indicators. The 2017 CREDO analysis of Texas charter school academic data reveals that Texas charter students gained about 17 extra days in reading each year compared to students in ISDs, with math performance about the same. This is significant as the 2013 CREDO study found that Texas charter school students were losing about 17 days of instruction in reading and 23 days in math compared to their ISD counterparts. Also noted in the most recent CREDO study is the fact that Texas charter schools educate more economically disadvantaged students (72 percent to 60 percent) as well as higher percentages of traditionally underperforming populations, including Hispanic and African American students.

Achievement at the highest levels is particularly noteworthy, as 40 charter campuses received all available academic distinctions this year, up from 32 campuses in 2016. This amazing accomplishment represents six percent of the 675 charter campuses evaluated and mirrors the performance of ISD campuses where 427 out of 6,904 campuses (6.1 percent) received all available distinctions.

So what’s in store for the future of Texas academic accountability? Most importantly, the implementation of HB 22 mandates that beginning in August 2018, all Texas ISDs and charter holders will be evaluated on three domains: Student Achievement, School Progress, and Closing the Gaps. Based on performance in those domains, a rating of A, B, C, D or F will be assigned to each domain as well as an overall letter grade for the ISD or charter holder. Campuses will begin to be evaluated on the A-F system beginning in 2019. In the meantime, Commissioner rules will need to be written to provide guidance on how the new accountability system will roll out. As we receive more information, we will keep you informed and provide the training and support you need to understand and successfully navigate this new system.

As each of you begin your new school year, please know that the Texas Charter Schools Association is here to support you in every way to provide you, your students, staff, and parents with the highest level of quality support and advocacy. Please let us know how we can help you to accomplish your mission for success as we all work together every day to provide a quality public school choice option to the students of Texas!

Over the past several weeks, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from parents across our state regarding the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Report Card.

The report card contrasts dramatically from what had been shared with parents in previous years. The revamped report presents information in a more colorful, understandable and parent-friendly way. Student information includes how a child performed on a specific STAAR assessment, how the student is progressing from the previous school year, and the level of reading difficulty a student can successfully accomplish.

Every parent needs to know how their child is doing in school, but they also want to be in position to provide greater support for their son or daughter. The STAAR Report Card goes beyond providing a student’s information from the previous school year. It also gives every parent access to resources that can help their child as they move from grade level to grade level.

Beyond the report card itself, I’m pleased to see parents taking the extra step to “Log In & Learn More” at a newly-revamped website (www.texasassessment.com). With a student-specific access code (provided in the STAAR Report Card), parents see a variety of resources and assessment components, including STAAR assessment questions for grades 3 through 8 – along with their child’s answers.

The ability for each parent to view the actual STAAR questions posed to their child, along with the answers their child provided, gives greater insight into the expectations at every grade level. This website also makes available resources designed to help parents prepare their child as they progress from grade level to grade level. Resources include tools to support a child’s ability to read and write, as well as tips and questions to help prepare for parent-teacher conferences in the new school year.

I continue to encourage all parents to not only review their child’s STAAR Report Card, but also take that extra step to Log In & Learn More. The overall success of our Texas public education system can only be accomplished school by school, classroom by classroom and student by student. Parents play a huge role toward ensuring that success.

Yesterday, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the 2016 Charter Schools Performance Framework (CSPF) Reports for charter schools across Texas.  Provision for the frameworks is found in TEC §12.1181(a) which states, “The Commissioner shall develop and by rule adopt performance frameworks that establish standards by which to measure the performance of an open enrollment charter school.” The intended purpose of the Frameworks is to inform parents and the public of charter school performance and to inform charter renewal decisions made by the Commissioner.   TEA’s Charter Schools Performance Framework focuses on academic success, financial health and sustainability and operational compliance and effectiveness.

Academic Framework

The Academic Framework indicators are aligned to components of the 2016 Accountability Standards for Texas public schools and will change overtime to reflect changes made within the State’s academic accountability standards.  The 2016 academic indicators highlight district-level student performance on the STAAR Assessment as well as 4-Year and 5-Year longitudinal graduation rates.  The related data for all public charter schools, as well as traditional districts, can be found online in the Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR).  

The indicator targets found in the Academic Framework reflect the Index 1 and Index 4 targets within either the Standard or the Alternative Education Accountability (AEA) standards, based on the designation of the district and its student population.  The Index 1 Meet Standard targets are set at 60% and 35% for standard and alternative accountability districts respectively. Similarly, the 4-Year and 5-Year Extended Longitudinal Graduation Rate Meet Standard targets, which for AEA districts includes continuation and GED certification, are set at 60% and 45%.

Financial Framework

Indicators from the Financial Framework represent several of the indicators from Charter FIRST, which is the School FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) rating system for charter schools detailed in 19 TAC §109.1001. The indicators, that reflect the financial health and sustainability of the organization as well as the strength of the financial controls and management practices, may change over time to ensure continued alignment and to reflect any changes made within the Charter FIRST. 

The Financial Framework indicators found within the 2016 Charter Schools Performance Framework reflect performance on the 2016 Charter FIRST indicators. Information used to determine a school’s FIRST rating comes from the Annual Financial Report and audited financials for the prior fiscal year. Consequently, financial data used to determine performance ratings on the 2016 Charter Schools Financial Framework indicators listed below reflect the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

  • Timely Submission of Annual Financial Audit
  • Administrative Cost Ratio
  • Unmodified Opinions
  • Material Weakness in Internal Controls
  • Default on Debt
  • Total Variance
  • Material Non-Compliance

Operational Framework

The Operational Framework is an aggregation of compliance-related indicators that monitor program, governance, and reporting compliance.  These indicators include third-party and self-reported data as well as program monitoring data from TEA:

  • Teacher Qualifications
  • Special Education Program Requirements
  • BE/ESL Program Requirements
  • CTE Program Requirements
  • Governance Reporting
  • Training Requirements
  • Criminal Record Reporting Requirements
  • Community & Student Engagement
  • PEIMS Reporting
  • TREx Usage
  • Certificate of Occupancy Requirements
  • 501(c)(3) Status

For additional information, please contact Laura Kelly, Director of Quality Services or join us for our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, June 27th at 10 a.m.

In 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature passed HB 2804, which changed the Texas school accountability system so that every campus and district/charter receives one of five ratings from A through F, both on five separate domains and also combined into a single overall grade. By now you are probably aware that earlier in January your school received ratings for four of the five domains, based on your 2015-2016 accountability data. This preliminary glance at how schools would look under the new accountability system was done because HB 2804 requires the Texas Education Agency to give the 85th Legislature a work-in-progress update by January 1, 2017. At TCSA we’ve responded to a number of questions from our member schools in regards to the A-F accountability system.

Here are some FAQs we’ve received:

When does A-F officially go into effect?

Ratings under the new system will officially go into effect in August 2018, based on 2017-2018 performance data.

Does my “new” domain score have any impact on my current domain score?

No. The 2015-2016 score you received in each domain (Met Standard or Improvement Required) will remain in place. Commissioner Morath has cautioned that no inferences should be drawn on official current or future performance ratings for schools, and that the current A-F ratings should not be considered as predictors of future district/charter or campus ratings.

Will the current method of calculating A-F ratings remain the same?

Probably not. Based on legislative input, the structure of the A-F system and the way grades are calculated may change prior to the first official reporting of A-F grades in August 2018.

As a service to our members, TCSA would like to attempt to take some of the mystery out of the new accountability system and answer more fully these and other questions you may have. To that end, TSCA Director of Training Dr. Paula Moeller and I will host a free, one-hour webinar to all member schools on Monday, January 23rd at 9 a.m.

The main goals of the webinar are:

  • Provide an overview of the A-F system as it is currently constructed;
  • Break down how grades are calculated for each domain;
  • Provide a timeline for implementation of the A-F system;
  • Provide some insights for charters into the just-released ratings considering school size and demographic makeup; and
  • Discuss what steps you as a campus leader should consider during the A-F phase-in period.

Please consider joining us for this free webinar on Monday, January 23rd at 9 a.m.

To register, simply click here, or go to the TCSA website and click on Trainings and Events, go to the Event Calendar, and click on the A-F Webinar tab.

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