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In Nod to Florida, Texas Lawmakers Approve A-F Grades for Schools

The Texas legislature has approved a bill to give A-F grades to public schools

On May 31, lawmakers approved House Bill 2804, which would extend to individual schools the state's current method of giving letter grades to districts. The bill now heads to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, for his signature. 

The A-F proposal was one of several high-profile K-12 policy proposals pushed by Texans for Education Reform, an increasingly influential advocacy group in the state. Texans for Education Reform has links to the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a Florida-based group that has long supported that state's first-in-the-nation system of A-F school grades. According to the foundation, if Abbott signs the bill, Texas would become the 12th state to have a law on the books requiring letter grades for schools in its accountability system.

The image below, courtesy of the foundation, identifies the states with such A-F laws in white, although Virginia recently repealed its A-F law. (Click on the image for a complete version of the map.)

A-FFoundation.PNG

Right now, in terms of accountability designations, a Texas school is deemed by the state to have either "met standards" or "needs improvement." The A-F grades would take effect for the 2017-18 school year. 

As the Texas Tribune reported, some lawmakers objected to the proposal by arguing that simply assigning letter grades would create stigma for some schools and won't help them improve. But the argument advanced by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, the Republican and a co-sponsor of the original legislation, won the day: "We've got to call them something." 

Some of the prominent Texas bills I wrote about earlier this year didn't make it as far, however. Among the bills to fall by the wayside this year was another bill Texans for Education Reform supported to allow parents to exercise the state's "parent trigger" law earlier than they currently can. And Aycock's own plan to reform Texas K-12 finance also won't make it to Abbott's desk this year. Abbott did sign into law a bill containing his proposal to expand early education. 


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