This story has been updated.

San Antonio’s big three school districts held on to their B scores under the Texas Education Agency’s latest accountability grades since 2019, after which the COVID-19 pandemic paused scores.

Like San Antonio, Northside and North East independent school districts, most school districts in Bexar County kept the same ratings as 2019, although there was some movement in both directions.

Southside ISD’s grade improved from its 2019 C grade to a B this year, while Somerset Independent School District earned an A rating from the state agency, up from a B in 2019.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath on Monday visited Somerset as part of a three-district tour across the state touting the new numbers. He commended the district for its success.

“The gains that we see at Somerset ISD are nothing short of extraordinary,” he said.

Morath thanked the district’s hardworking staff and faculty, and told Somerset’s school board they “earned many stars on [their] crowns in heaven” for their work.

Saul Hinojosa, Somerset’s superintendent of 15 years, credited “a big focus on individualized instruction,” the district’s COVID-19 “test-to-stay” policy, which resulted in nearly 90% of students remaining in school during the peak of the pandemic, and higher teacher pay.

“In most districts, people are rewarded based on their years of experience,” he said. Somerset offers additional pay by evaluating its teachers three to four times a year based on student improvement, he said.

He also credited Somerset’s teachers’ staff development partnership with the National Institute of Excellence and Teaching, which he said impacted impact students as well.

Rolando Ramirez, Southside ISD superintendent, said he wasn’t surprised by that district’s improvement.

“I know we tell students and staff that hard work pays off, to encourage them, but in this case, hard work really paid off,” he said. “Those high ratings are a reflection of all that hard effort that they put in throughout the year.”

Lackland ISD dropped from an A in 2019 to a B this year, while East Central dropped from a C in 2019 to “not rated,” the state agency’s temporary substitute for D and F ratings, in accordance with the state legislature’s pandemic-era law, SB1365, which gives failing and near-failing districts time to improve without imposing penalties.  

A spokesman with East Central said the district has already implemented various strategies to improve its TEA grade in the future, including adding staff to each grade level to enhance accelerated instruction, adding online tutoring options and adopting TEA-approved math instructional materials.  

The district also contracted the Texas Association of School Boards to conduct a curriculum audit this fall to continue making necessary changes.

The letter grades were released Monday morning, restarting the annual grading system after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Letter grades correspond to a typical grading scale, with campuses or districts receiving an A for scores 90 and above, B for 80-89, and so on. Districts and schools with scores at 59 or below are considered to have failed state standards.

According to the data, a quarter of districts and one-third of campuses statewide improved their letter grades from 2019, while 42 districts and 564 campuses received “not rated” grades. Additionally, the TEA said almost one-fifth of high-poverty campuses in Texas earned A ratings, “continuing to prove that demographics do not equal destiny,” the agency wrote.

Bexar County school district 2022 scores

  • Alamo Heights ISD: A (2019 A)
  • Boerne ISD: A (2019 A)
  • Comal ISD: A (2019 A)
  • East Central ISD: “Not rated” (2019 C)
  • Edgewood ISD: C (2019 C)
  • Fort Sam Houston ISD: A (2019 A)
  • Harlandale ISD: B (2019 B)
  • Judson ISD: B (2019 B)
  • Lackland ISD: B (2019 A)
  • North East ISD: B (2019 B)
  • Northside ISD: B (2019 B)
  • Randolph Field ISD: A (2019 A)
  • San Antonio ISD: B (2019 B)
  • Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD: B (2019 B)
  • Somerset ISD: A (2019 B)
  • South San ISD: C (2019 C)
  • Southside ISD: B (2019 C)
  • Southwest ISD: B (2019 B)

Scores are based largely on the results of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exam, a standardized test that Texas students take starting in third grade. 

Elementary and middle school campuses’ grades are based entirely on STAAR results. The TEA also factors college, career and military readiness and graduation rates into letter grades for districts and high schools.

Many campuses saw declines, but not all

A student walks down a hallway at Ogden Elementary filled with inspirational messaging. After years of struggle, the school earned a B from the Texas Education Agency. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

One bright spot included SAISD’s Ogden Elementary, which struggled with failing grades for years before partnering with the Relay Graduate School of Education. It earned a B rating from the TEA this year.

Southside ISD’s Heritage Elementary also saw a big jump, from an F grade in 2019 to an A this year. 

“It’s just incredible to have a 36-point gain from a 59 to a 95,” said Ramirez. “[It’s] unheard of… They’ve taken it a step further and have shown our other campuses that anything is possible.”

A number of San Antonio campuses received “not rated” scores.

South San ISD’s Kindred Elementary dropped from a B grade in 2019 to “not rated” this year. Other South San ISD campuses that were “not rated” this year include Abraham Kazen Middle School, Exploratory Arts and Trilingual Academy and South San Antonio High School-West Campus. Those three campuses were not scored in 2019, according to TEA records.

Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD’s Cibolo Valley Elementary, Rose Garden and Watts Elementary school all declined from 2019 C grades to “not rated.”

Many of East Central ISD’s campuses received “not rated” scores. East Central Heritage Middle School was one of those, which last met state standards in 2018. Harmony and Tradition Elementary, which in 2019 earned D grades, both scored “not rated” this year. Legacy Middle School, which scored an F in 2019, also received a “not rated” score. 

San Antonio ISD campuses that received a “not rated” score this year include Davis Middle School, Poe Middle School and Hirsch Elementary. Edgar Allan Poe STEM Dual Language Middle School and Hot Wells Middle School, which didn’t have previous TEA ratings, also scored “not rated.”

SAISD’s Hillcrest Elementary, Irving Dual Language Academy, Rhodes Middle School and Tafolla Middle School all declined from their 2019 C grades to not rated this year. Texans Can Academy at Highland High School which earned an F in 2019 received a “not rated” score this year.

Edgewood ISD’s campuses that received “not rated” scores include Brentwood Middle School and E.T. Wrenn Middle School, which each last received F grades in 2019. So did John F. Kennedy High School, which last received a C grade in 2019. Edgewood’s Las Palmas Leadership School for Girls and Edgewood’s Learn4Life high school both received a “not rated” score in their first year of being graded.

Only one Harlandale ISD campus received a “not rated” score: Frank M. Tejeda Academy, which reflected a decline from its 2019 C score. 

Two Judson ISD campuses declined from 2019 C grades, including Candlewood Elementary and Judson High School.

Northside ISD’s Esparza Elementary School, Oak Hills Terrace Elementary and Jones Middle School declined from its 2019 D grade, while Mora Elementary School declined from its 2019 C grade. 

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. A 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, her work has been recognized by the Texas Managing Editors. She previously worked...