The Mansfield ISD Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to join a growing number of other Texas school districts in a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency over the changes made in 2023 to the state’s accountability ratings system.
Calling it the "A-F Refresh," the TEA introduced multiple changes to the state accountability system after students had already taken the STAAR test. The retroactive changes are anticipated to lower the rating of thousands of schools and districts making it appear they are declining. In its own explanatory materials regarding the A-F Refresh, TEA states it is possible for a campus to improve from 2022 to 2023 and still receive a lower letter grade. As a result, Mansfield ISD believes, if implemented, the lack of advanced notice of new criteria regarding the STAAR test and methods used to evaluate the results would cause harm to school districts across the state.
“Our job as a board is to advocate for what is right for our students, educators and community,” said board president Courtney Lackey Wilson. “Joining forces with other districts in this lawsuit is a necessary step to ensure fairness, transparency and equity in our education system not just for MISD but for students across Texas.”
The lawsuit states the TEA violated the Texas Education Code by not providing school districts prior to the 2022-23 school year with “the accountability performance measures, methods and procedures that will be applied” for that school year. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the TEA from issuing new ratings using the retroactively-applied, yet-to-be-finalized measures.
“As a continuous improvement district, Mansfield ISD values high expectations, and we believe in holding ourselves accountable,” said Superintendent Kimberley Cantu. “The issue with the state accountability process is that TEA did not inform districts what the new expectations were until after students had taken the test last year. Additionally, any adjustments we could have made this school year to allocate resources or modify instruction may not be possible because the results have been so delayed. That’s not fair to our teachers and students.”
TEA accountability ratings are typically released in mid-August. This year, with the changes to the accountability system, the TEA announced plans to delay the release until Sept. 28. On Sept. 12, saying it needs to make adjustments to account for changes in students’ academic performance after the pandemic, the TEA announced a further delay with no set date of release.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.