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Superintendents from different districts discuss changes to school-rating system

SAN ANTONIO – This legislative session may do more to change the classroom at your child's school than any year before. Schools are being scrutinized in a big way. Officials at many school districts are worried, while others are celebrating as lawmakers discuss who gets how much and based on what.

The “A-F” grading system for schools is a way for every district to be measured item-by-item. When the grades come out, no matter where your child went to school, chances are their administrators are not happy with the result.

“We didn’t do well and we weren’t surprised,” said Pedro Martinez, superintendent for the San Antonio Independent School District.

Martinez said last year’s failing grades for many of his schools is very telling. It’s a poor district that needs this type of accountability to get on the move.

 “It has allowed our principals to look at how many children are already proficient that need to be advanced. Where do you have your gaps? Because when you have your subgroups, whether it's poverty, whether it's special (education), how are those children doing? It's forcing us to look at that a lot closer,” Martinez said.

Administrators at Northside Independent School District are stewing over the district’s results too.

Unlike SAISD with its struggle to lift its impoverished neighborhoods, Northside is grappling with a perplexing population. An “A-F” grading system may not define as much as disparage.

"Spend 20 minutes in any classroom and think about the complexity of what going on in there with that one adult and, say, two dozen kids. Think about the complexity of that,” said Brian Wood, Northside ISD superintendent.

Whereas Martinez is using the grading system to underscore the needed improvements for the district, Wood approaches it differently.

"It is so inconsequential. I don't even worry about it. It is so meaningless with regard to, ‘Are we doing the right thing for kids? Are we constantly improving?'" Wood said. That, he said, "is a much more important goal to have than what letter was your school rated."

Both superintendents said the “A-F” system told them what they already knew about their districts. 

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