A Texas judge has ordered the Texas Education Agency to abstain from releasing its annual A-F school ratings.

The order from Travis County Judge Catherine Mauzy comes after more than 100 school districts sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath over changes to the calculation of the scores.

Districts are alleging that TEA and Morath did not provide adequate notice of the changes being made. The school leaders testified earlier this month that the changes could have lowered the scores for campuses even if they had improved their performance.

Mauzy stated that the districts had given sufficient evidence showing that Morath’s implementation of the A-F accountability system for the 2022-2023 school year “violates Texas law and would cause irreparable harm” to school districts in the state. 

TEA officials released a statement to KXAN following the order, saying the ruling disregards the law.

This ruling completely disregards the laws of this state and for the foreseeable future, prevents any A-F performance information from being issued to help millions of parents and educators improve the lives of our students. The A-F system has been a positive force in Texas public education, supporting improved outcomes for students across the state, especially those most vulnerable. There have been many constructive conversations about the methodology with districts and among legislators. Though about 10% of our school system leaders disagreed with the methods used in A-F enough to file this lawsuit, the complete absence of public performance information means that 100% of our school systems cannot take actions based on these ratings, stunting the academic growth of millions of Texas kids.

The State Board of Education updates the metrics used every five years. The ratings are based on student achievement, student progress, and how well districts are closing the gaps in academic performance for certain groups of students. 

However, according to TEA, school districts have performed poorly following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In September, the agency announced it would be temporarily delaying the release of the accountability ratings. The agency partly attributed the delay in the ratings release to “appropriately account[ing] for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As the case continues to play out in court, legislators are currently in the process of considering Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for students across the state. 

During a special legislative session that began earlier this month, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which creates $8,000 educational savings accounts for students. The legislation passed by a vote of 18-13. However, SB 1 is currently sitting in the Texas House’s Educational Opportunity and Enrichment Committee, awaiting a hearing.

The Texas Legislature’s third special session expires on November 7.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.