Natalia ISD receives F under new statewide rating system

Natalia ISD was one of only nine multi-campus public school districts in the state given an overall F by the Texas Education Agency in their 2018 accountability ratings, the first on the new A-F scale adopted by the Texas State Legislature in 2017.
Superintendent Dr. Hensley Cone explained what the F rating means for the district in an open letter to stakeholders (see page 4).
“It means that we have a conservator that had already been assigned to the district,” Cone wrote. “It also means that we are still considered academically unacceptable.
“This does not mean that Natalia is closing down nor does it mean that we are being annexed by another district. It highlights the need to aggressively improve literacy and numeracy.”
District ratings are based on three categories: Student Achievement (student performance on the state’s standardized STAAR tests and whether they are deemed ready for college and careers); School Progress (student improvement on STAAR tests year over year); and Closing the Gaps (performance among student groups, such as racial or ethnic groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, and English language learners).
School districts receive a letter grade for each of the three categories, as well as an overall grade. Seventy percent of the overall grade is based on the better of the Student Achievement and School Progress categories, while the Closing the Gaps category accounts for the additional 30 percent.
The point scale for the letter grades are 90-100 for A, 80-89 for B, 70-79 for C, 60-69 for D, and 0-59 for F.
Natalia received a D in Student Achievement (67) and School Progress (69) and an F in Closing the Gaps (36), for an overall F (59), just one point shy of an overall D.
“Although I don’t agree with the rating system, we are still judged on the system just like every other school in the state,” School Board President Eric Smith said. “Although I believe we have new processes in place, we fell one point shy of meeting standard according to the state, so we were not good enough.”
According to, a website created by the TEA to showcase the new accountability ratings, districts receive F ratings, “…for unacceptable performance when they serve only a small number of students well. Most students in these districts need far more academic support to be ready for eventual success in college, a career, or the military.”
Individual campuses were still ranked according to previous pass/fail accountability rating system. NHS and NJHS both Met Standard, while NES and the ECC both received ratings of Improvement Required.
“Collaboration amongst staff is increasing our ability to make wise decisions and take actions that ensure our students are learning,” Cone wrote. “Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) and frequent data protocols afford teachers and administrators accurate information to support every kid.
“These have become the new standard and expectation within Natalia ISD. With new expectations and standards, research clearly states that it takes 3-5 years to see evidence of systemic change.”
Of the 742 multi-campus districts that were given ratings for 2018, 121 were rated A, 334 B, 232 C, 46 D, and nine F.
Devine ISD received a B rating, as did Fredericksburg and Carrizo Springs. Hondo, Lytle, Somerset, Crystal City, Cotulla, Dilley, Pleasanton, and Poteet were ranked C, and Pearsall was ranked D.
Medina Valley, Boerne, and Poth received A’s.
The other eight districts receiving an F were Damon, Gonzales, Tom Bean, Kingsville, Hearne, Uvalde, Huntsville, and Wink-Loving.
Ninety-two districts were exempted ratings because of lingering issues from Hurricane Harvey. Another 13 districts were not rated for other reasons.
Eighty-seven charter schools were ranked, with 32 ranked A, 22 B, 15 C, 11 D, and seven F.
Smith called on the Natalia community to help get the district back on track.
“It is going to be very vital this year that we have children at school daily and that we have support from our parents and community to make sure we all do what we can to assure that every child achieves at the highest level possible,” Smith said.
“We have great kids, great staff and this rating will not define us.”
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer