Recently, I met a group of 5th grade students from Singapore that initiated a plan in their school to reduce stress. They called it “The Box Project” and started it in an attempt to calm the nerves of their fellow students who were taking the biggest test of their lives. As I understood it, this test (in 5th grade) would determine if they were college bound. The students explained that students taking the test were frightened and nervous, the box contained sweets, encouraging notes and other items to reduce stress for their classmates. The stress was real and the sense of care was evident in their eyes and sincerity in the words they spoke.
Testing is a big part of education, and schools and kids have globally accepted it as a part of our academic lives. I will be honest, I worry about our kids and the stress testing puts on them. You can imagine the anxiety Texas schools had when we learned our legislature passed a new bill in 2015 requiring changes to how our schools are rated. Instead of an Acceptable/Non Acceptable rating, this bill gives an A–F rating labels to describe district and campus performance. Districts and campuses will receive a rating of A, B, C, D, or F in each of five areas and for overall performance. The areas vary by campus level.
The changes don’t take effect until the 2017–18 school year, with the first ratings to be issued August 2018. But in a few weeks we will receive a “what if report card,” showing the letter rating that each district and campus would have received for the 2015-16 school year if the A-F rating system had been in effect. The intent of our legislators was to create an easy to understand system based on letter grades, just like we use for students. But as we all know, an “A” in a class in Wylie is not the same as an “A” in another district. There are lots of variables which determine the value of that “A”.
The state has created a very complex formula built around five domains for determining these grades. We have the best communities, teachers, principals, school board, kids and parents on the planet! I would give Wylie ISD an A+, but the Texas Education Agency isn't letting me rate our schools on my own. :( I am confident that all Wylie ISD campuses will score well under this new system. And if we see room for improvement, we will address it. Your kids are learning and performing well and we know it. There are many factors that make up a successful student and campus.
Wylie ISD’s grades will be released in early January and we will share the full report. If you have any questions, please let me know. I love your kids, our faculty and staff and trust that we are ALL doing our best! We are going to be okay.