Fort Worth ISD, Plano ISD join lawsuit against TEA over new accountability ratings

The two largest school districts in North Texas are joining a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency.

They and several other districts around the state are pushing back over changes to the TEA’s accountability ratings. More than 50 school districts across the state have joined in the lawsuit.

The Fort Worth ISD school board and Plano ISD voted to join a growing number of school districts across the state in a lawsuit against the TEA.

The rating system currently assigns districts and their schools an A-F grade based on test results, academic growth, graduation rates and how well students are prepared for college or a career after high school.

Earlier this year, the TEA announced changes to the rating system since students are back in the classroom full-time.

The ratings will be based on measures that have yet to be decided.

Districts are concerned that the changes by the TEA could cause some campuses to drop a letter grade.

"We want to be held accountable, but we want to know how we’re going to be held accountable before those students take the tests," said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Angelica Ramsey. "What we’ve heard from the TEA commissioner is that to prepare communities for students either doing the same or actually improving in results and having ratings drop. And I think that’s really, really difficult for the community to understand." 


Dallas ISD joins lawsuit against TEA's evaluation changes; Fort Worth could join next week

The largest school district in North Texas, Dallas ISD, announced it is joining a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency for changes to the way schools are evaluated.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath spoke at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s 2023 State of Public Education. He didn’t mention the rating system or the lawsuit. 

Plano ISD also made the vote to join the lawsuit Tuesday night.

"As a board, we have a responsibility to do our due diligence in the best interest of our students,
staff and community," Plano ISD Board President Nancy Humphrey said. "After months of
communication and advocacy efforts with no success, this litigation is the only option left to
ensure fairness, equity and transparency in our accountability system."

Dallas ISD's school board voted unanimously to join last week. The school district says it does not have adequate time to prepare for the changes.

FOX 4 spoke with Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde after the event about the lawsuit.

"I think when we misrepresent the entire picture of student achievement, we just saw a presentation of our commission tout Dallas ISD. And yet our letter grade would go from a B to a C. How does that make sense when you heard from our very commissioner that we have had improvements?" Elizalde said.

Fort Worth ISD Headquarters

Both Fort Worth ISD and Dallas ISD superintendents agree raising the standards is a good thing, but schools need time to prepare and understand the changes schools are up against. 

"Giving someone a test when they’re not prepared for it serves what purpose?" Elizalde said.

"It’s not a monetary issue as much as how do you look at students in the face and say ‘You did great last year. You actually did better last year than you did the year before, but you get a lower grade. Why? We don’t know.’ That’s what we’re fighting here today," Ramsey said.

On Monday, Prosper ISD and Red Oak ISD announced they would be joining the lawsuit as well.

Frisco ISD is also a part of the suit against the changes. 

FOX 4 reached out to the TEA for comment last week, but they said they can't comment on legal matters.