One of the strengths of Texas' public school accountability system is that it requires educators to make systematic changes and increase efforts to reach all children.
One of the weaknesses is that some components do more to increase paperwork than to enhance education.
The Public Education Grant is one measure that fails to give a complete picture and doesn't reflect schools' recent improvement.
For instance, the PEG list released this week shows 30 Fort Worth schools as problematic enough that parents must be notified by February that their children are eligible to transfer.
But about half those schools got there only because of past performance, despite their acceptable scores this year on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, district officials said. Four of those elementaries and one middle school have met the TAKS passing standards for all student groups the past two years.
Why, then, do those schools with significant gains show up as underperforming?
The PEG program, which the Legislature approved in 1995, looks at three years of scores. Schools make the list if at least half their students failed any TAKS subject in two of the three previous years (2007, 2008 or 2009) or if the school was rated "academically unacceptable" in any one of those years. A school can be considered "unacceptable" if any student group (African-American, Hispanic, Anglo or economically disadvantaged) fails any part of the TAKS — reading, math, social studies or science.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.