TITLE 19. EDUCATION

PART 2. TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY

CHAPTER 97. PLANNING AND ACCOUNTABILITY

SUBCHAPTER AA. ACCOUNTABILITY AND PERFORMANCE MONITORING

19 TAC §97.1001

(Editor's note: In accordance with Texas Government Code, §2002.014, which permits the omission of material which is "cumbersome, expensive, or otherwise inexpedient," the figure in 19 TAC §97.1001 is not included in the print version of the Texas Register. The figure is available in the on-line version of the June 23, 2017, issue of the Texas Register.)

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) adopts an amendment to §97.1001, concerning accountability. The amendment is adopted with changes to the proposed text as published in the April 14, 2017 issue of the Texas Register (42 TexReg 1994). The amendment adopts applicable excerpts of the 2017 Accountability Manual. Earlier versions of the manual will remain in effect with respect to the school years for which they were developed.

REASONED JUSTIFICATION. The TEA has adopted its academic accountability manual in rule since 2000. The accountability system evolves from year to year, so the criteria and standards for rating and acknowledging schools in the most current year differ to some degree over those applied in the prior year. The intention is to update 19 TAC §97.1001 annually to refer to the most recently published accountability manual.

The amendment to 19 TAC §97.1001 adopts excerpts of the 2017 Accountability Manual into rule as a figure. The excerpts, Chapters 2-9 of the 2017 Accountability Manual, specify the indicators, standards, and procedures used by the commissioner of education to determine accountability ratings for districts, campuses, and charter schools. These chapters also specify indicators, standards, and procedures used to determine distinction designations on additional indicators for Texas public school campuses and districts. The TEA will issue accountability ratings and distinction designations under the procedures specified in the 2017 Accountability Manual by August 15, 2017. Ratings and distinction designations may be revised as a result of investigative activities by the commissioner as authorized under TEC, §39.056 and §39.057.

In 2017, campuses and districts will be evaluated using a performance index framework. The framework includes four indices. These indices encompass performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) assessments for Grades 3-8 and end of course (EOC), longitudinal graduation rates, four-year Recommended High School Program/Distinguished Achievement Program graduation rate or four-year Foundation High School Program with endorsement/distinguished level of achievement graduation rate, and annual dropout rates. These indices incorporate the various criteria mandated by statute as set out in the description of statutory authority under which the manual is adopted. In 2017, the distinction designations system will award seven distinctions to eligible campuses that receive a Met Standard rating: Academic Achievement in English Language Arts/Reading; Academic Achievement in Mathematics; Academic Achievement in Science; Academic Achievement in Social Studies; Top 25 Percent Student Progress; Top 25 Percent Closing Performance Gaps; and Postsecondary Readiness. Districts will be eligible for a distinction designation for Postsecondary Readiness.

There are two substantive changes to the accountability system for 2017. First, STAAR® L, STAAR® A, and STAAR® Alternate 2 results will be included in all four indices. Second, the methodology for determining campus comparison groups will take into account the percentage of students identified as receiving special education services and the percentage of students enrolled in an Early College High School program.

The amendment to 19 TAC §97.1001 also includes clarification that the statutory references in subsection (a) are as those sections existed on January 1, 2017, and minor technical changes such as date changes.

At adoption, the page numbers were updated to reflect changes made to Chapter 1, which is not included in Figure: 19 TAC §97.1001(b), and the Index 3: Closing Performance Gaps table on page 39 of the adopted figure was updated to reflect that STAAR® L will be included in Index 3.

The adopted amendment also includes the following changes in response to public comment.

A page was added to Chapter 4 to accommodate a new table showing how the progress-level descriptors used in the manual align with the new progress-level descriptors implemented in spring 2017 and used on the Confidential Student Report. Two paragraphs were added to page 27 to explain the new progress-level descriptors. New language was added to page 76 of the adopted figure to explain that an appeal based on district data demonstrating that using prior-spring Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) records for summer and fall EOCs would result in a higher accountability rating will be considered.

SUMMARY OF COMMENTS AND AGENCY RESPONSES. The public comment period on the proposal began April 14, 2017, and ended May 15, 2017. Following is a summary of the public comments received and corresponding agency responses.

Comment: One district staff member asked whether the progress measure labels in the manual would be updated to align with assessment reports. One education service center staff member submitted a similar inquiry.

Agency Response: The agency provides the following clarification. The agency is transitioning to the updated progress-level descriptors beginning with the spring 2017 administration. As a result, reports produced by the TEA Division of Student Assessment will use the new progress-level descriptors (Limited, Expected, and Accelerated). Because Index 2 evaluates both STAAR® progress measures and English language learner (ELL) progress measures, however, accountability reports will continue to use Did Not Meet, Met, and Exceeded. At adoption, Figure: 19 TAC §97.1001(b) was updated to include a chart showing the alignment of the progress-level descriptors.

Comment: One district staff member requested that Index 2 not be calculated for campuses that have ELL progress measures and no STAAR® progress measures.

Agency Response: The agency disagrees. As long as there are assessment results with which growth can be measured, Index 2 will be calculated. Furthermore, meeting the target on Index 2 is not required since a Met Standard rating can be earned by meeting the performance target on either Index 1 or Index 2.

Comment: One district staff member commented that an accountability system with grades as ratings will continue to divide the world of education.

Agency Response: This comment is outside the scope of the proposed rulemaking. The current Met Standard and Improvement Required ratings are not considered grades. The A-F accountability system is scheduled for implementation in the 2017-2018 school year.

Comment: Houston Independent School District (ISD) proposed changes to the school types and index targets for campuses that serve early elementary through Grade 8. The commenter proposed these types of campuses be held to either the elementary or middle school target, whichever was lower; to hold these campuses to targets based on which grades the majority of test results come from; or to allow districts to appeal ratings if a change in school type classification would result in a higher rating.

Agency Response: The agency disagrees. The concern expressed is not applicable to Index 2 because growth is measured using the results of only reading and mathematics assessments. There are, therefore, the same number of assessments (two per student, per year) in Grades 3-5 as there are in Grades 6-8. The comment is also not applicable to Index 4 because the elementary school target is lower than that of middle schools. The comment is applicable to Index 3; there is one more assessment in Grades 6-8 than in Grades 3-5. The agency has determined that the assignment of targets should be based on grade configurations known at the beginning of the year rather than on a variable that is not known until after all assessments have been administered. However, the agency will conduct future analyses of how grade configurations are used to determine campus type and assign targets to determine whether changes are needed.

Comment: Houston ISD suggested that the computation of graduation rates be changed, that districts be allowed to appeal ratings if a graduation rate would result in a higher rating that the dropout rate proxy, or that the calculation of the dropout rate proxy be changed. Houston ISD also provided two examples of how using a dropout rate proxy could result in a lower Index 4 score than using a graduation rate.

Agency Response: The comment about changing the computation of graduation rates is outside the scope of the proposed rulemaking because graduation rates are calculated by the TEA Division of Research and Analysis; however, the comment has been forwarded to Research and Analysis. The agency disagrees with allowing districts to appeal ratings if a graduation rate would result in a higher rating because if a district or campus has a longitudinal graduation rate (as defined by Research and Analysis), it is used and the dropout rate proxy is not calculated. The agency also disagrees with the suggestion to change the dropout proxy. Although Houston ISD offered examples of how using a dropout rate proxy could result in a lower Index 4 score than using a graduation rate, there are also numerous instances in which using the dropout rate proxy would have resulted in the same or higher Index 4 score.

Comment: Houston ISD suggested computing index scores including and excluding ELL students in their first year in U.S. schools and using whichever result is higher or allowing districts to appeal ratings if ELL exclusions result in a lower rating.

Agency Response: The agency disagrees. The exclusion of ELL students in their first year in U.S. schools aligns with the requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The state accountability system is intended to accurately reflect district and campus performance and to distinguish among district and campus performance. It is not possible to have a viable accountability system based on analyses of best-case scenarios for districts and campuses.

Comment: Houston ISD suggested that when STAAR® EOC results from summer retests for ELLs are used, the agency should use the TELPAS record from the prior spring to determine the students' years in U.S. schools. Houston ISD also proposed allowing districts to appeal ratings if the current processing rules result in a lower rating.

Agency Response: The agency provides the following clarification. What the district is requesting cannot be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year because the data file formats have already been set. However, the agency will research the feasibility of looking at spring TELPAS records to determine years in U.S. schools for the ensuing summer administrations. The agency agrees that an appeal based on district data demonstrating that using prior-spring TELPAS records would result in a higher accountability rating should be considered. At adoption, Figure: 19 TAC §97.1001(b) was updated to indicate that appeals related to the prior-spring TELPAS records for students taking EOCs in summer or fall will be considered.

Comment: Houston ISD suggested using English I first-time scores to compute progress for English II first-time testers regardless of whether those students also retested for English I in the same year they took English II.

Agency Response: The comment is outside the scope of the proposed rulemaking because the TEA Division of Student Assessment determines the methodology for the STAAR® progress measure calculations. The comment has been forwarded to Student Assessment.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY. The amendment is adopted under the Texas Education Code (TEC), §39.052(a) and (b)(1)(A), which requires the commissioner to evaluate and consider the performance on achievement indicators described in TEC, §39.053(c), when determining the accreditation status of each school district and open-enrollment charter school; TEC, §39.053, which requires the commissioner to adopt a set of performance indicators related to the quality of learning and achievement in order to measure and evaluate school districts and campuses; TEC, §39.054, which requires the commissioner to adopt rules to evaluate school district and campus performance and to assign a performance rating; TEC, §12.104(b)(2)(L), which subjects open-enrollment charter schools to the rules adopted under public school accountability in Chapter 39; TEC, §39.0545, which requires each school district to evaluate and report to the agency its own performance and the performance of each of its campuses in community and student engagement; TEC, §29.081(e), which defines criteria for alternative education programs for students at risk of dropping out of school and subjects those campuses to the performance indicators and accountability standards adopted for alternative education programs; TEC, §39.0548, which requires the commissioner to designate campuses that meet specific criteria as dropout recovery schools and to use specific indicators to evaluate them; TEC, §39.055, which prohibits the use of assessment results and other performance indicators of students in a residential facility in state accountability; TEC, §39.151, which provides a process for a school district or an open-enrollment charter school to challenge an academic or financial accountability rating; TEC, §39.201, which requires the commissioner to award distinction designations to a campus or district for outstanding performance; TEC, §39.2011, which makes charter districts and campuses that earn a Met Standard rating eligible for distinction designations; and TEC, §39.202 and §39.203, which authorize the commissioner to establish criteria for distinction designations for campuses and districts.

CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTE. The amendment implements the Texas Education Code, §§39.052(a) and (b)(1)(A), 39.053, 39.054, 39.0545, 39.0548, 39.055, 39.151, 39.201, 39.2011, 39.202, 39.203, 29.081(e), and 12.104(b)(2)(L).

§97.1001.Accountability Rating System.

(a) The rating standards established by the commissioner of education under Texas Education Code (TEC), §§39.052(a) and (b)(1)(A); 39.053, 39.0535, 39.054, 39.0545, 39.0548, 39.055, 39.151, 39.201, 39.2011, 39.202, 39.203, 29.081(e), and 12.104(b)(2)(L), as those sections existed on January 1, 2017, shall be used to evaluate the performance of districts, campuses, and charter schools. The indicators, standards, and procedures used to determine ratings will be annually published in official Texas Education Agency publications. These publications will be widely disseminated and cover the following:

(1) indicators, standards, and procedures used to determine district ratings;

(2) indicators, standards, and procedures used to determine campus ratings;

(3) indicators, standards, and procedures used to determine distinction designations; and

(4) procedures for submitting a rating appeal.

(b) The procedures by which districts, campuses, and charter schools are rated and acknowledged for 2017 are based upon specific criteria and calculations, which are described in excerpted sections of the 2017 Accountability Manual provided in this subsection.

Figure: 19 TAC §97.1001(b) (.pdf)

(c) Ratings may be revised as a result of investigative activities by the commissioner as authorized under TEC, §39.056 and §39.057.

(d) The specific criteria and calculations used in the accountability manual are established annually by the commissioner of education and communicated to all school districts and charter schools.

(e) The specific criteria and calculations used in the annual accountability manual adopted for prior school years remain in effect for all purposes, including accountability, data standards, and audits, with respect to those school years.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on June 7, 2017.

TRD-201702241

Cristina De La Fuente-Valadez

Director, Rulemaking

Texas Education Agency

Effective date: June 27, 2017

Proposal publication date: April 14, 2017

For further information, please call: (512) 475-1497