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Today the Texas Education Agency labeled every school district in the state with a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F based primarily on students’ performance on the 2018 STAAR tests. The Brenham Independent School District received a score of 79.2%, or a C, but we know we are much more than a mere letter grade!
The reduction of our district to a single letter grade fails to account for varying socioeconomic conditions that influence performance, despite the fact that the TEA promised districts they would not be penalized for high percentages of students who are served by Special Education, or are Limited English Proficient (LEP) or economically disadvantaged. Currently, 12% of Brenham ISD’s students are served by Special Education, 11.5% are LEP, and 61% are economically disadvantaged. This A-F grade only serves to compare districts and schools with very different demographics using a one-size fits all system based upon STAAR scores.
The letter grade system also misrepresents a large portion of what happens in our schools. In the 2017-2018 school year, our students and staff celebrated the following accomplishments and events:
Changes to the statewide rating system were passed during the 85th Legislature in January 2017. Although the rating system was reduced from five to three domains, those three domains are still heavily reliant on standardized test scores. In fact, elementary and middle school ratings are based entirely on performance on the STAAR tests. While we want to be accountable to our parents and stakeholders, we believe our students would be better served by a comprehensive accountability system that looks beyond high-stakes, one-shot, standardized assessments. The new letter grade rating system creates a false impression about our school district. These letter grades ultimately shame our students and staff and hurt our communities.
I implore you to rally around our staff as they prepare for the first day of school. Please make your voice heard in support of the 800 Brenham ISD staff members who work hard every day to provide a safe, caring and rich academic environment for almost 5,000 children in this community. With your support, we will continue to provide the same quality educational programming that we have provided since 1875.
Walter Jackson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
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