With a new school year dawning just this past week, a much-anticipated report card of a different sort was released as the Texas Education Agency disclosed the 2019 A-F Accountability Listing for districts and campuses around the state.

Each district and campus within each district receives a letter grade that measures overall performance. Letter grades also are given for specific areas: student achievement, academic growth, relative performance and closing achievement gaps.

The ratings are meant to provide academic accountability scores for all public and charter schools. They are based primarily on performance on state standardized tests and graduation rates.

It is no secret the ratings and their methodology have sparked debate in public education circles. However, they offer something of a window into the job educators are doing in preparing students for the next phase of their life.

The Lubbock ISD improved from a C to a B. The district’s overall score rose from a 77 in the 2017-18 school year to an 86 in the just-completed academic year. The jump is significant and the result of hard work on the part of a lot of people.

“We are very, very proud of our students, and our teachers, and our campus administrators, who really coached their teachers to make sure they’re looking at every child, every day,” LISD Superintendent Kathy Rollo said in our story in a nod to the district mission statement. “This is the fruits of our labor for the past year.”

Individual campuses receiving an A rating were Hutchinson Middle School, Hardwick, Honey, Smith, Whiteside and Roberts elementaries and the Talking School for Young Women. The school also had five campuses receive an F grade: Dunbar College Preparatory Academy, O.L. Slaton Middle School, Smylie Wilson Middle School, Bean Elementary and Wester Elementary.

Needless to say, there remains a lot of work ahead for district officials, who earlier this year created a partnership network dedicated to improve student achievement at Estacado’s feeder schools. Estacado was the district’s second-highest ranked high school and its three feeder elementaries all performed at a grade of C or better.

At Dunbar Prep, though, the school’s score dropped from 58 to 56 during a year marked by uncertainty, prompting a number of changes about which Rollo expresses optimism and anticipates positive results.

“We have a good, solid plan moving into this next year,” she said in our story. “We’re using the ACE (Accelerating Campus Excellence) model. We’re extending the school day by an hour. We recruited top teachers from across the district to go to Dunbar and had a huge response to that. … I’m very confident we’ll be celebrating Dunbar next year.”

Elsewhere, the Frenship school district rating improved from a B to an A with no individual campus receiving an F grade. At Lubbock-Cooper, the overall rating was a B with a strong move from 84 to 89. The Cooper East Elementary campus was the only school to receive an F grade.

Other Lubbock County school districts: Idalou ISD and Shallowater ISD received As while New Deal ISD and Slaton ISD received Bs. Rise Academy in Lubbock received an overall A rating as well.

The TEA encourages all who are interested in public education to spend a few moments visiting the website TXschools.gov and view the report cards for districts and campuses. The organization uses a number of factors in the accountability scores, including graduation rates, college career and military readiness, SAT/ACT scores and college prep course competition.

The TEA grades are a good barometer, and the 2018-19 snapshot overall represents good news for all Lubbock County districts. It indicates that with few exceptions, students are being prepared for the next chapter of their educational journey or moving into the workforce. Along the same line, there is always room for improvement, and it’s a sure bet that even if every campus received an A grade, district officials would still find areas in need of some polish.

A quality education has never been more critical, and a lot of moving parts are involved from school board trustees to administers to staff and classroom teachers creating an environment conducive to learning. Students today have a wonderful variety of options to choose from upon graduation, but they must be prepared and pushed to realize and maximize their individual potential.

While these grades are encouraging, even more encouraging is district officials’ continued commitment to educational excellence and shaping the leaders of tomorrow.