Cleveland ISD: District committed to quality education, anticipating change in accountability ratings

Stephen McCanless, superintendent for Cleveland ISD

In a few weeks, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will release A-F accountability scores for districts across Texas. The A-F system is based primarily on the STAAR and STAAR End of Course (EOC) exams administered each April and May for grades 3-8 and High School.

“While these scores do provide valuable information about our students’ academic progress, it is important to know that these scores only provide a one-day assessment of the many ways we measure student progress and success in Cleveland ISD,” said Cleveland ISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless.

These “scores” are not reflective of the many programs that Cleveland ISD offers or many of the everyday initiatives for which the District is accountable.

“Basically, the state assigns these A-F scores based on one test on one day of the year,” said McCanless.

Since the state implemented the A-F rating system in the 2018-19 school year, Cleveland ISD was assigned a “C” rating the first few years and most recently was rated a “B” this last school year. The “B” rating was a huge accomplishment and celebration for the hard work and dedication of all teachers and students during the 2021-22 school year.

Due to the many changes to the assessments and how campuses and districts are scored for the 2022-23 school year, TEA and Region 4 ESC have shared that districts can anticipate a decline (drop) by one or two letter grades for their campuses and school district as a whole.

“Even though we improved in many areas in Cleveland ISD this past year, a drop of this magnitude might indicate that we are declining or failing in our work, even though we worked at the same level and dedication as the year before. I can assure you that Cleveland ISD is focused on what matters most to our parents and community. These scores do not reflect the great and successful achievements we have in our Fine Arts, CTE, Athletics, Academics, or Clubs and Programs,” McCanless said.

These scores do not reflect the commitment of the Cleveland ISD School Board of ensuring all students have access to enriching and quality courses, materials, and excellent teachers, according to McCanless.

“These scores are only a small part of what we do in Cleveland ISD,” he said.

Due to the last minute changes by TEA and the late release of these scores, there is very little the District can gain from the score data. Cleveland ISD classrooms employ daily informal assessment taking that involves observation, engagement with lessons, assessments and continual evaluation of a student’s progress.

“Our curriculum is both enhancing and challenging to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s successes. We will use this score data to help shape and guide future instruction, but it will not be used to inform us of the true value and worth of our teachers and students. We have excellent teachers and students in Cleveland ISD and we will continue to build off of that,” McCanless said.

TEA is also making changes to the accountability system that determines school and district ratings. The changes include:

  • NEW rules expected later this month will raise the minimum college, career, and military readiness (CCMR) score required for each letter grade.
  • TEA is changing how individual campus scores are combined for the district as a whole.
  • The test format and design underwent significant changes, including new question types, cross-curricular passages, evidence-based writing, and online testing for ALL students.

“As a dedicated taxpaying Cleveland community member, and your Superintendent, I want to reassure you that we are focused on growing exceptional people, not just exceptional test takers. Our teachers work hard each and every day teaching, and our students work hard each and every day learning, so I celebrate them for a job well-done,” he said.

“I am proud to be the Superintendent of Schools in Cleveland ISD and even more proud of what we have accomplished the last 2 years. Our focused commitment will continue and the results of that will show each and every day in our students and staff. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have further questions or concerns,” McCanless said.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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