The Kingsville Independent School District is leading a lawsuit along with dozens of school districts against the Texas Education Agency, claiming that the state’s accountability system sets them up for failure and creates an inaccurate narrative about their work.
Kingsville ISD was one of nine public school districts in the state to receive a failing grade under the state’s new A-F accountability system six years ago. Since then, many educators in the district have resigned or been asked to step down. The failing grade even caused Kingsville ISD’s home county, Kleberg County, to lose a partnership with the U.S. Navy.
Under the new rules, schools must show that more students are pursuing careers after graduation.
One change in the proposed system is to raise the bar for high schools to earn an A based on readiness, potentially leading to lower overall ratings for many schools.
Under the current system, a high school earns an A if 60% of seniors enroll in college, pursue a non-college career, or join the military. The revamped grading system raises the bar, giving high schools an A if 88% of students fulfill the previous conditions.
According to a report by the Texas Tribune, 120 school districts across the state sued the TEA last year, arguing that the new rules would hurt them. A Travis County judge ruled that the state’s changes were illegal, but the TEA appealed the decision.
Now, the release of the ratings has been halted until the case is resolved in court, which has been delayed.
School leaders have also said that the system tends to give a lower grade to districts that serve low-income or minority families. Most of the campuses that would receive a lower grade on their 2022 performance serve students who live in the state’s poorest regions. For example, Kingsville ISD serves a population that is 86%Hispanic.
Kingsville ISD Superintendent Cissy Reynold-Perez hopes the lawsuit could lead to a more gradual increase in the system’s career readiness or a holistic overhaul of the accountability system.
“We believe that we need to be held accountable,” she said. “We just believe that the accountability system needs reform, and it needs to be done lawfully and fairly.”
The resolution of the legal battle and the future of school grading are expected later in the spring or summer, leaving families in suspense about their school’s performance.