Texas’ public school education continues to fall in the bottom ten, according to yearly assessments by Education Week. However, other organizations’ analyses, and recent scores released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) say Texas’ educational system is showing signs of improvement.
Education Week’s 2019 Quality Counts annual report released in three parts in January, June and September gave Texas an overall grade of C- (71 out of 100), ranking it 41st out 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Texas has not fared better than a D grade for years, according to Education Week data. Its overall C- grade is worse than the nation’s C average, which hasn't changed since 1997, when Education Week first created the annual assessment of the nation’s K-12 education system.
Overall, Education Week gave 32 states grades between C+ and C-. States with the highest overall grades are concentrated in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with New Jersey and Massachusetts earning the highest grades of B+.
The Education Week Research Center evaluated progress of educational opportunities and outcomes to students’ prospects for success over the course of a lifetime (Chance for Success Index); how states spend on schools and distribute funds (School Finance), and test scores, graduation rates, and other outcomes (K-12 Achievement).
Texas earned a C grade of 74.6 for Chance for Success ranking, ranking 41st in the U.S., faring worse than the national C+ average. Texas earned a D+ grade of 67.3 for school finance, also ranking 41 out of 50. Its C- grade of 71.4 for K-12 Achievement fared better with a 28th-place ranking.
“We’re quick to point out that overall letter grades aren’t always based on a system that portrays how well someone is really doing in their work,” the Texas American Federation of Teachers (Texas AFT) says.
According to recent report card data released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), for the 2018-2019 school year, 78 percent of Texas students approached grade level or above in all subjects in their STAAR performance; 50 percent met grade level or above. Both numbers were slight improvements from the previous year.
A recent WalletHub analysis and 24/7 Wall St. analysis both ranked Texas 33rd out of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
WalletHub’s analysis evaluated 29 key metrics including performance, funding, safety, class size and instructor credentials. It ranked Texas 33 for quality of education and 31 for school safety.
"Texas has several strong points,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told The Center Square. “For example, almost 6 percent of its public schools rank among the best U.S. schools, it has the third highest high school graduation rate among low income students, one of the largest projected high school graduation rate increases, and a low dropout rate.”
“In terms of safety, the state has the smallest disciplinary incidence rate in the country, as well as requirements for school safety plans and audits,” Gonzalez added.
Factors that brought Texas’ score down include a smaller number of Blue Ribbon schools per capita, and low reading and SAT scores, Gonzalez said.
“In addition, more than a quarter of high school students have had access to illegal drugs, the state has had some of the most school shootings nationwide, and it got a low safety grade for the roads around schools," she said.
The 24/7 Wall St. index highlighted Texas’ graduation rate of 89.1 percent, the fifth highest in the U.S.
Based on 2017-2018 TEA data, Texas’ $60.8 billion K-12 public school program spends $11,392 on each of its 5.399 million students. The national average, according to 24/7 Wall St., is $12,526 per pupil.
Texas’ 356,909 teachers teach in 1,200 school districts and charters across 8,766 campuses.