5 takeaways from TEA’s A-F accountability scores for Fort Worth, Tarrant County schools

The Texas Education Agency released its A-F accountability system scores Monday. Here are five takeaways for schools in the Fort Worth area.

Fort Worth ISD improved by two points — and a whole letter grade

When Fort Worth ISD received a C rating in 2019, Superintendent Kent Scribner pointed out that the district missed a B rating by only a fraction of a percentage point. This year, the district’s overall rating improved to 81, just a two-point improvement but enough to push it over that threshold and into B territory.

But the district’s rating is a continuation of a long-term upward trajectory: Its overall score has improved by 14 percentage points over the past five years.

More As and Bs, fewer Ds and Fs

In 2019, the last year the Texas Education Agency assigned accountability ratings, 41 Fort Worth ISD campuses received an A or B rating. This year, 75 campuses, or 59% of the schools in the district, received A or B ratings.

Because of a 2021 change in state law, TEA didn’t assign D or F ratings this year. Any school with a score below 70 was marked as unrated. But there were fewer of those campuses in the district this year: 23 schools in Fort Worth ISD scored below a 70 this year, compared to 38 schools that received D or F ratings in 2019.

Students arrive to campus on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, at Clifford Davis Elementary School in Fort Worth.

Charter partnerships were a mixed bag

Of the six schools in Fort Worth ISD Leadership Academy Network, five received As or Bs. Most notably, the Leadership Academy at John T White Elementary School improved from an F rating in 2019 to a B rating this year. In 2019, the district brought in Texas Wesleyan University to take over leadership and operations at the schools.

But the network’s newest school, the Leadership Academy at Forest Oak Sixth Grade, received an overall score of 58, which would have been an F rating in a year when TEA assigned Ds and Fs. The school, which was formerly known as Glencrest Sixth Grade School, was added to the network at the beginning of the 2020 school year.

Additionally, the Phalen Leadership Academy at J. Martin Jacquet Middle School received an overall score of 59, which would also be an F rating under normal rules. The district brought in the Indianapolis-based charter network Phalen Leadership Academies to take over operations at the school at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

Ratings driven by STAAR performance

The improvements in the district’s overall rating was driven at least in part by gains in this year’s State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. The scores, which were released in July, show that 38% of the district’s third-graders scored on grade level in reading last year. That’s an improvement not only over the previous year, but also over the spring of 2019, before the pandemic began.

Mostly As and Bs in Tarrant County

Nearly all districts and charter schools in Tarrant County received A or B ratings, with most of the county’s larger suburban districts maintaining the same overall grades as in 2019.

Two charter schools, East Fort Worth Montessori Academy and Chapel Hill Academy, received C ratings.

Lake Worth ISD received an overall score of 67, which would give it a D rating under normal evaluation rules. The district was marked as unrated this year due to the change in state law.

The Mansfield and Northwest school districts each dropped a couple of points from an overall grade of an A to a B.