The Melissa Independent School District and the Anna Independent School District both saw improvements over last year in their accountability ratings issued last week by the Texas Education Agency.

Melissa ISD received a score of 95, for an “A” letter grade, while Anna ISD received a score of 87, for a “B” letter grade, for the 2018-2019 school year. The annual ratings rank districts and schools across the state based on an “A through F” scale.

For this year, the TEA is rating individual schools on the A through F scale for the first time after previously using a simplified pass or fail system. This mirrors a similar system that was put in place for districts starting last year.

“Performance continues to improve in Texas schools because of the tireless effort of Texas teachers, administrators and staff,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. “I am particularly proud of the educators at the 296 high-poverty schools that achieved an A rating this year.”

Last year, Anna ISD received an overall score of 78. TEA’s website states the district’s overview grade shows how well Anna ISD prepares students for “success, both in school and after high school in college, a career, or the military.”

“Anna ISD is extremely proud of the growth our campuses have made on the state assessment for the 2018-2019 school year,” Anna ISD Superintendent Michael Comeaux said via email. “As a District, we improved our overall score by nine points, resulting in us improving a letter grade. It is the goal of the district to continuously set high standards not only for student achievement, but advocating for success through multiple modalities, preparing each student for their future.”

Melissa ISD had a n overall score of 94 last year, and received “A” grades in two of the three performance details, scoring 94 on “Student Achievement,” 87 on “School Progress” and a 97 on “Closing the Gaps,” which measures how well “different populations of students in a district are performing.”

“Regarding the newest state accountability ratings, I can say with certainty that all the people who represent Team Melissa genuinely love working with kids and understand the tremendous opportunity we have to work with great kids and great families in a great community,” Melissa ISD Superintendent Keith Murphy said in a statement emailed to the Anna-Melissa Tribune. “I also have to commend all the nearby districts representing Collin and Grayson counties on their commitment to student success. We are so very blessed to be working in some of the most highly effective public school systems in the nation and in this great state. It is such a joy to be involved with so many good people working together to provide opportunities for our children.”

Anna ISD received “B” grades in each of the three performance details, scoring 86 on “Student Achievement,” 84 on “School Progress” and 89 on “Closing the Gaps.”

Lovejoy Independent School District and the Imagine International Academy of North Texas, in McKinney, were the two highest scoring districts in Collin County, as both received a 98. The McKinney Independent School District and Lone Star Language Academy, in Plano, were the only other districts in Collin County to receive letter grades below an “A,” as both received “B” grades.

Across Anna ISD, all five of the district’s schools received “B” or “C” grades for the 2018-2019 school year, with Joe K. Bryant Elementary leading the way with an overall score of 89. Anna Middle School and Sue Evelyn Rattan Elementary School received overall scores of 79 and 74, respectively.

Three of Melissa ISD’s four school received “A” grades for the 2018-2019 school year, while North Creek Elementary was given a high “B” with an overall score of 88. Harry McKillop Elementary had the highest overall score in the district with a 95.

Across the state, many superintendents have been critical of the A through F system as a whole as it places heavy significance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness while focusing on the results of one day of the student’s school year.

Gunter Independent School District saw a six-point improvement over its scores from last year and was awarded a 91, or an A. Despite the success, Superintendent Jill Siler said she has been working with the Texas Public Accountability Consortium to develop a more nuanced accountability system that takes into account more aspects of a student’s success.

Siler noted that 79 percent of high schools in the recent release received a score of an A or a B. However, only 55 percent and 56 percent of elementary and middle school students received the same ratings. Siler attributed this in part to the higher number of scoring criteria that are placed on high school scoring, while elementary and middle school results are based primarily on STAAR test results.

With that in mind, Siler said this places even further pressure on rural districts due to their smaller size. If a small school were to have only a few students perform poorly, it could skew the results more than a larger district with the same number of students performing poorly on standardized testing.

“If I had just three students walk in having a bad day, just had a 7 to 9 percent swing on my results,” she said.