99% Of Texas School Districts Earn Accreditation Under New System

About 99 percent of Texas school districts today earned full accreditation status under a classification system that examines both the academic and financial health of school systems.

"The accreditation status will give taxpayers a quick indication of how well a school district is educating children and managing money. The vast majority of our school districts earned full accreditation status because they are doing a good job serving their students and handling the public's money," said Commissioner of Education Robert Scott.

The new system was authorized by the Texas Legislature in 2006 to reflect broad-based district performance related to academic, financial and compliance issues.

Scott said 1,018 of the state's 1,031 independent school districts earned accredited status. Eleven school districts received the next lower status, which is called Accredited-Warned, and the accreditation status of two districts was left pending because of ongoing investigations.

Districts that earned Accredited-Warned label are:

Burton ISD

Bynum ISD

Grapeland ISD

Kendleton ISD

Marathon ISD

Navarro ISD

Panther Creek ISD

Terrell County ISD

Tolar ISD

Walnut Bend ISD

West Orange-Cove Cons. ISD

North Forest ISD and Itasca ISD recieved 'pending' status.

The 11 districts that received an Accredited-Warned label earned this lower status because they either:

  1. Were rated Academically Unacceptable in 2006 and 2007 in the state's accountability system;
  2. Received a rating of Substandard Achievement or Suspended-Data Quality in the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) in 2006 and 2007; or
  3. During the 2006 and 2007 rating years, earned an Academically Unacceptable rating one year and a Substandard Achievement or Suspended-Data Quality rating in FIRST one year.

The Texas Education Agency has the authority to lower accreditation status for a variety of other reasons such as failure to provide accurate financial or assessment data and failure to comply with data reporting requirements. However, no district has received a lower accreditation status for these reasons to date.

"The most common reasons that a district received an Accredited-Warned status were poor performance in the state accountability system or a negative fund balance," Scott said.

Under this system, the status categories for districts are: Accredited, Accredited-Warned, Accredited-Probation, or Not Accredited-Revoked. Once a district receives a Not Accredited-Revoked status, it is no longer a Texas public school district. Accreditation status can be left pending if an investigation is under way in a district.

The commissioner has broad authority to impose an array of sanctions against any district that receives an Accredited-Warned status. Along with taking the corrective actions already required under the state's accountability system or School FIRST system, a district that receives this designation must notify students' parents and property owners in the district of the lowered accreditation status.

The commissioner will review actions already under way to correct deficiencies before deciding whether to impose additional sanctions. Other sanctions, which can be found in Chapter 39.131 of the Texas Education Code (http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/ed.toc.htm), can include preparing a corrective action plan or assigning a monitor or conservator to the district.

Additional information about the accreditation system, including the status for each district and an explanation of each status category, is available at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/accredstatus/.

Cathryn Khalil, reporting. ckhalil@kltv.com