Galveston County school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey will be eligible for special consideration when it comes to their accountability scores, according to the Texas Education Agency.
After months of discussion about Harvey-affected districts, Commissioner Mike Morath Wednesday announced districts meeting several criteria could apply to be exempted from an “improvement required” rating.
Agency officials don’t yet have a specific list of campuses or districts that would be eligible, but a preliminary count estimated that between 100 and 125 districts and more than 1,100 campuses could apply, said DeEtta Culbertson, spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency.
Campuses are eligible for the waiver if more than 10 percent of students were reported displaced or homeless; if more than 10 percent of teachers were homeless during the storm; if the campus was reported closed for more than 10 days; or if the entire campus was forced to move through the winter break, officials said.
Under the provision, a campus meeting one of the requirements that receives an “improvement required” rating would, instead, be labeled “not rated,” officials said.
Charter schools and school districts are also eligible if all campuses in the district are given a “not rated” designation, or if more than 10 percent of the district’s students were in a “not rated” school, officials said.
Local school districts welcomed Morath’s decision.
“We are grateful for the commissioner considering this for accountability and believe it is a positive move for our students and teachers who have worked so hard this year to overcome the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey,” said Tammy Dowdy, spokeswoman for Dickinson Independent School District.
Preliminary results, however, show that Dickinson might not need to apply for the waiver, Dowdy said.
“We are optimistic about the performance of our students on the tests,” Dowdy said.
Dickinson was one of the hardest-hit districts during the storm that displaced as many as 40,000 county residents.
Superintendent Vicki Mims testified that 3,000 students’ homes out of a total student population of about 10,800 were damaged by flooding and about 1,100 students were made homeless.
Dickinson’s enrollment was down 146 students since the storm, and district officials have had difficulty accounting for 29 of them, which could undermine district accountability scores, Mims said.