Angelina County school officials upset over new accountability ratings

Angelina County school officials upset over new accountability ratings
Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Academic excellence is a priority at Hudson ISD. Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker takes it so serious that the middle school is often ranked among the top schools in the state, which is why the new A-F accountability system is frustrating her.

"It's not just me," Whiteker said. "It is 1,036 school districts and charters. There is no support for this system because it is not a reflection on quality education."

Whiteker is not alone. Educators across Angelina County are speaking out against the system.

The new system was not suppose to take effect until next school year, but the legislature asked for a dry run to be done this year. The old system said school either met standards or needed improvements, now schools are given letter grades in different areas. Last year Huntington ISD met standards. Now the districts have C and D ratings under the new system's dry run.

"A 60 is a D but in this situation a 60 can be an A," Huntington ISD Superintendent David Flowers said. "The math doesn't add up. I really believe that this system is out of harmony with reason. What they have tried to do is put a system together that parents would understand but the problem comes with how you come up with an A-F."

Lufkin ISD School Board member Scott Skelton is also on a government affairs committeee for the Lufkin Chamber of Commerce. Skelton said the move is politically motivated and does not treat schools fairly.

"I call this ratings for the rich because if you are an affluent school district then you are going to get an A," Skelton said. "This is not just a Lufkin ISD thing. This is an East Texas thing."

Flowers shared that opinion.

"It hurts that they would come up with a system that's going to target children and especially those in rural East Texas," Flowers said. "My daughter goes to this district and if it gets a D then she is going to go to a district that gets a D. We are going to do what is best for Huntington ISD and nothing in this new system takes into effect the hard working staff."

The biggest concerns for the area is too much reliance on the state's standardized test and areas like college preparedness for elementary students.

"Judge the high school seniors we produce," Skelton said. "Don't judge kids at the 3rd grade level. "I hope it is the 85th session that changes this. The one that is in session today. They need to take care of this. Last week the congress reversed their decision to change the ethics committe because they had so many phone calls. We need to do the same here and call our legislatures and get them on our side. What i can say is that Trent Ashby has been a champion for us. We need more like him."

Whiteker said the new system could mean a voucher system that would send tax dollars to private schools. It's a system she does not support.

"If the schools are bad enough then what they will say is when need to give parents vouchers so they can use tax dollars to help pay for their child to go to a private school or home school," Whiteker said. "Every parent has that right, I just don't think tax payers dollars need to go into that."

Whiteker has been a proponent of not teaching to the state test and is telling her teachers to do what they do best.

"We need to be considering the interest of our students, the talents of our students and return the majority of teaching to our class rooms," Whiteker said.

Below you can see a breakdown of the A-F system and the ratings for all public schools in the state.

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