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FWISD parents unsure about students’ academic success demand more clarity of online portal

Summer Learning program students and parents wait in the cafeteria on June 6 at M. H. Moore Elementary School, 1809 N.E. 36th St.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
Summer Learning program students and parents wait in the cafeteria on June 6 at M. H. Moore Elementary School, 1809 N.E. 36th St.

Over a year ago, when her daughter, Malaysia Campbell, was in second grade at Clifford Davis Elementary, former Fort Worth ISD parent Lashanta Mire wondered about her student’s progress in school.

Like many other parents, she thought, what were Malaysia’s grades? Was Malaysia performing on grade level? Would Mire need to do more at home to help supplement Malaysia’s education?

Mire logged onto Fort Worth ISD’s parent portal, where guardians can check grades, report cards and student schedules, and saw answers that were part of the equation. Malaysia was earning A’s and B’s, but was she on track?

Clicking on a link to test scores, Mire thought she’d get her answer. Instead, she was shown numbers and decimals that had little meaning to her. Raw score? Scale score?

What did it all mean? When she reached out to ask the district, officials hardly knew what to tell her, she said.

After hearing many complaints from parents like Mire, Fort Worth ISD is attempting a fix, John Cope, the district’s communications director, said.

The district has added a page to its website, where parents can find a tutorial on how to access and understand their student’s scores for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, exams and academic progress through the portal.

‘What does this mean?’

Mire wasn’t alone in her confusion, she and fellow parent Trenace Dorsey-Hollins said. And, the district’s temporary fix isn’t what they and other parents envisioned.

“The information that is provided there doesn’t make any sense at all,” Dorsey-Hollins, founder of Parent Shield Fort Worth, said. “As parents, we were like ‘What does this mean?’”

Once in the portal, parents could look at grades just fine, but after clicking on “test history,” they were brought to a page showing letters “S” and “E” and the number zero beneath columns headed approaches, meets or masters grade level.

This screenshot above shows what parents see when they log onto Fort Worth ISD’s parent portal and click on the test history link. Parents said the information provided on this page didn’t “make any sense at all.”
Trenace Dorsey-Hollins
This screenshot above shows what parents see when they log onto Fort Worth ISD’s parent portal and click on the test history link. Parents said the information provided on this page didn’t  “make any sense at all.”

Parents have a right to be confused as to what is shown on that page, Dorsey-Hollins said. As it turned out, “E” stood for “English,” but Dorsey-Hollins said she was confused by the E and S notations.

“Does that mean ‘excellent’ and ‘satisfactory’? There’s no key on there. … It’s just so confusing. Why not keep it simple?”

Dorsey-Hollins pointed to other Tarrant County districts with parent portals that are easy to read. Crowley ISD’s portal, for example, clearly shows whether a student did or did not meet grade level, she said.

“There’s no need for Fort Worth ISD to recreate the wheel,” Dorsey-Hollins said.

Dorsey-Hollins and others want Fort Worth ISD’s test history page to look more like Crowley ISD’s in the future. The district plans to work with Focus School Software, which runs the district’s parent portal, for a solution, according to Cope.

“We want transparent information. To be able to accurately assist our babies, we need clear access to STAAR results,” Dorsey-Hollins said.

For now, the district has provided parents with a link that redirects to the Texas State Assessment site to view results.

“It’s a way to streamline the process to make it easier for parents to see their student’s data,” Cope said. “They’re planning to make it easier. We know that (Focus) is working on it.”

While this may just be a temporary fix by the district, it really isn’t enough, Dorsey-Hollins said.

She doesn’t want parents to be forced to take the extra step in being redirected to the Texas State Assessment site. She thinks it should all be right there, on the Fort Worth ISD parent portal.

Report card literacy

The problem isn’t just that parents don’t understand the data shown on the portal’s test history page, Dorsey-Hollins said. She said 70% of parents she’s talked to believe their student is on or above grade level.

“In almost all of those cases, parents are using report cards to determine that,” Dorsey-Hollins said. “But the report cards aren’t telling the truth. Students are bringing home A’s and B’s, so parents think there’s no issue.”

Instead, she notes,only 38% of Fort Worth ISD students read at grade level.

But while report cards may not be telling the whole story regarding student success, she believes that if parents interested in learning more are redirected to another website, they may be deterred from even checking their students’ test history.

“No one is really taking the time to explain to parents what this means,” Dorsey-Hollins said. “Some parents have never even thought to log onto the parent portal.”

Making sure all the information is present on one page would allow parents who may not know the ins-and-outs of the portal or meaning of the STAAR scores to more easily determine if their student meets grade level, she said.

Although Fort Worth ISD’s reference page, up on the website now, is a temporary fix, parents want the parent portal changed as soon as possible.

“Parents need that information,” Mire said.

Cope, the district’s communications director, said there’s no timeline on when the updates will be completed, and the future change to the parent portal shouldn’t be confused with two other upcoming district redesigns.

The district is beginning to phase in a new standards-based grading model. With it, parents will see a review of how well students are performing instead of a percentage, or letter, grade.

Elementary parents could see this change reflected on students’ 2025-26 report cards.

The district is also planning a complete redesign of the Fort Worth ISD website by the start of the 2024-25 school year, Cope said.

Meanwhile, the district is making adjustments to the parent portal and educating parents on how to check students’ test scores.

“We’re now really communicating all this instruction to parents,” Cope said. “We’re in the process of making it easier for parents, students and community members.”

Matthew Sgroi is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or @MatthewSgroi1 on X, formerly known as Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.