School districts and campuses received Texas Education Agency ratings for the first time since 2020 and the news was mostly good for the Houston area.
Katy ISD received an A while Houston, Fort Bend, Pasadena, Conroe, Alief, Klein and Humble ISDs received B ratings.
Only passing ratings were issued by the TEA on Monday. Districts and campuses that otherwise would have received poor marks were classified as “not-rated” as state leaders tried to give educators some breathing room after several challenging school years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several individual HISD schools saw improvements. Osborne Elementary School moved from an F in 2019 to an A. Wheatley High School moved from an “unacceptable” performance to an A. Wheatley had been on the TEA’s list of struggling schools for eight years.
“We know we still have a lot of work to do, but the rating from the TEA is heartening and worthy of celebration,” said Superintendent Millard House II. “Our students and staff have worked hard addressing learning loss, and our score is a result of their efforts.”
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said changes to the state’s accountability system have helped improve school performance.
“We’ve seen statewide a notable improvement in the number of campuses that have achieved an A rating. This is tremendous,” he said. “And it is a testimony to be unbelievably focused on the hard work of local teachers and principals, and superintendents and school board members all over the state of Texas.”
The ratings are based on performance on state standardized tests, graduation rates, college, career, and military readiness outcomes. HISD scored an 88.
The pandemic paused the ratings over the last two years. Twenty-five percent of schools in the state improved from the last time districts were graded.
“This is a remarkable achievement that not every state in the country is seeing coming out of COVID,” Morath said.
More money still needed for schools, Dems say
Later in the afternoon, though, Texas Democrats said more funding is needed for public schools. Leaders advocated for more money from the state for teacher pay raises and educational tools for classrooms.
According to Houston ISD’s general fund budget, the district will get $190 million from the state for the 2022-2023 school year.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said state lawmakers will have around $27 billion extra to work with during the next session.
“Put it on the schools, put it on the children, put it on the teachers and the educators,” said Turner. “When 70% of your teachers are thinking about going elsewhere pay the teachers what they rightfully deserve.”
In addition to more funding, U.S. Rep. Al Green and other Democratic leaders called on the Texas Legislature to call a special session. Green says in the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre, lawmakers need to change the age of purchasing a gun to 21.
“It’s time to call a special session,” explained Green. “It’s also time to put away with the insane idea that teachers are supposed to be the defenders.”
A recent poll also shows 70% of Texas teachers want to quit their jobs many fearing another school shooting and wanting more pay.
“Houston teachers are paid $7,500 below the national average,” said Turner. “That needs to change.”