As students across Texoma headed back to class Wednesday, districts and schools are waiting to receive their own grades from the past school year. The Texas Education Agency is expected to hand out its report cards this week when it releases accountability ratings for districts and schools across the state.


With this year’s accountability ratings for individual campuses, the TEA is transitioning away from the previous meets standards and needs improvement designations to a scale based on A through F letter grades.


Here are five things to know about the new letter grade system:


1. How to read them


Despite the changes to the system, the program still rates districts in a similar way to previous years, said Regina Prigge, Denison Independent School District director of assessment and special programs.


Whereas a score above 69 would previously be considered meeting expectations, the new system breaks down the rating further based on the traditional system used by schools. As an example, an 80 through 89 would represent a “B” and anything above a 90 on the scaled score would reflect an “A” score.


2. This is not the first year


While this is the first year for the letter grade system for campuses, a similar systems for districts was rolled out last year. The system in use for the district had some similarities to the system used to grade high schools under the new system, Prigge said.


The new system grades campuses on three categories in order to assess its success including student achievement, school progress and closing the gap.


To determine the score, the TEA takes the higher score of the first two categories and combines it with the third in a 70-to-30 ratio, said Susan Whitenack, Sherman Independent School District assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.


3. Student achievement


The STAAR tests are one of the criteria used to determine the student achievement portion of the grading criteria for districts and campuses.


For high school students, the criteria also includes college, career and military readiness and graduation rates. The STAAR and readiness portions each make up 40 percent of the criteria with graduation rates making 20 percent.


4. School progress


School progress measures the outcomes of students who grew at least one year in comprehension based on the STAAR testing while comparing the district to other districts performances with similar economic disadvantaged percentages and demographics.


5. Closing the gap


The final component measures the academic achievement of students based on STAAR performance alongside graduation, academic growth, English language proficiency, and student success. The component evaluates students from 14 groups including racial and ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged, students currently or formerly receiving special education and monitored English learners.


How do you feel your school district has performed? Let local government reporter Michael Hutchins know mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.