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Dallas, Fort Worth Schools Do Better In State Ratings, But Not Everyone's Happy


More Dallas and Fort Worth schools met the state’s education standards this year than last year, according to 2017 accountability ratings released Tuesday by the Texas Education Agency.

In the reports, schools in Texas either earn a "Met Standard" or "Improvement Required" rating. In Dallas ISD, 218 schools met standard. In 2016, 211 schools earned the same rating. Fewer schools also required improvement. In 2017, 15 schools required improvement versus 21 in 2016.

In Fort Worth, 116 schools met standard compared to 108 last year. Like Dallas, fewer schools needed improvement this year. Fourteen campuses earned an “Improvement Required” rating versus 22 last year.   

Kent Scribner, superintendent of the Fort Worth school district, said in a statement he was glad to see some schools improving.

“This news represents a 36 percent decrease in the number of schools currently on the state’s Improvement Required list,” Scribner said. “While there is still work to be done, we cannot overlook the fact that 89 percent of our schools are achieving or exceeded the state standard. Well done, students, faculty, and staff!”

Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a statement that the school district's ratings show "significant progress." 

“This shows significant progress in the district’s efforts to support every school so that all students have success. Certainly, we are committed to continuing this trend until all of our campuses meet the academic standards, but this is encouraging news. Our staff, students and parents should be commended for their hard work.”

How schools are measured

Schools are measured across four indexes: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness. In the accountability ratings report, each school earns a “Y” for “yes” or “N” for “no” to show if they passed in those areas.

In Dallas, Thomas J. Rusk Middle School didn’t make the grade across all four indexes. Martin Luther King, Jr. Learning Center only passed in student progress.

As a district, Dallas met standard overall and across the four indexes. The same goes for Fort Worth ISD, but a few elementary schools didn’t perform well.

Glencrest 6th Grade School in Fort Worth didn’t meet standard across the four areas. I.M. Terrell Elementary only passed in student progress. West Handley and Clifford Davis elementary schools only passed in readiness.

Other schools needing improvement earned failing grades in at least two of the four indexes. In 2017, to receive a Met Standard or Met Alternative Standard rating, districts and campuses must meet targets on three indexes.

Concern over charters

Not everyone is pleased with the ratings. Louis Malfaro, president of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said he’s concerned about the performance of charter schools.

“When you dive down into the individual campuses that were rated, charter campuses were twice as likely to get the low rating (4.2 percent of campuses within school districts were labeled Improvement Required versus 8.5 of charter campuses),” Malfaro said in a statement. “The charter school ratings this year continue a trend of these districts underperforming traditional public schools.”

Malfaro added that last year’s charters were almost three times as likely to fail state standards. He also criticized the state’s overall accountability system and called standardized test scores unreliable.

How Texas performs overall

Across Texas, more than 95 percent of districts and nearly 90 percent of campuses met the state’s minimum education standards.

In 2016, about 94 percent of school districts and nearly 90 percent of campuses met state standards.

A new accountability system that issued grades A to F was supposed to replace the current system. State lawmakers, however, put that plan on hold for school districts until next year. Schools will be graded under the new system in 2019.

Learn more

To explore more data on Texas schools, here are the 2017 accountability ratings and reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Correction: A previous version of this story said 57 percent of Dallas schools met standard. It's 94 percent. The previous version said nearly half of Fort Worth school met standard. It's 89 percent. The previous percentages incorrectly included campuses that were not rated. 

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.