San Elizario ISD Joins Lawsuit Against TEA Commissioner Mike Morath
SAN ELIZARIO, TEXAS – The San Elizario Independent School District (SEISD) Board of Trustees on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, unanimously voted to approve Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez’s decision to enter the lawsuit against Mike Morath, the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez states, “Entering this lawsuit is about holding everyone accountable, including those in the TEA who have deliberately chosen to change the rules of engagement after students tested and the tests were electronically delivered and graded.” Students across Texas took assessments in the spring of 2023, which meant students, teachers, and administrators entered the testing phase with pre-established criteria and a set understanding of how results would be calculated.
Prior rating criteria required school districts to have 60% of high school students earn a CCMR point, making it possible for the campus to be rated an A under the published accountability measure. Students can gain a CCMR point through 11 set criteria that qualify students to be considered ready for college, career, or military as they prepare to graduate. However, in the new system, Texas schools must now have 88% of students earn a CCMR point to earn an A. The dilemma is that this portion of the accountability requirement pulls data from the prior year's graduating class.
At issue is that the TEA began its calculations to identify how to rate schools by setting cut scores with drastic changes, specifically the College Career Military Readiness (CCMR), which meant schools had no way of improving scores because the data for the graduating class of 2022 was set without any possibility of being able to improve it.
Under the Texas Education Code 39.0542, the Commissioner must provide a document explaining “accountability performance measures, methods, and procedures that will be applied for that year.” The calculations as currently described were not included in the 2022 accountability handbook, and the proposed changes have yet to be officially published as part of the accountability manual. Compounding the issue is that all Texas schools began the school year without knowing the school rating, and according to the information posted by the TEA in the To The Administrator Correspondence posted on September 12, 2023, there is another delay in the release of the 2023 A-F Academic Accountability Ratings.
Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Meza-Chavez states, “We do not have an issue with being held accountable – give us the metric prior to the students’ testing, and we will work to achieve it, but don’t disrespect our students and teachers and change it after the fact. TEA’s rating logic must be achievable by all schools and communicated so our communities understand it. Our public schools are so much more than the rating.”
The hearing is tentatively set for Tuesday, October 10, 2023. As of the release of this story, San Elizario ISD, Canutillo ISD, and El Paso ISD are the only three districts in El Paso County that have joined the lawsuit, and there are approximately eighty school districts in Texas that are collectively suing the TEA Commissioner.