The Prosper Independent School District received a score of 96 — and an “A” letter grade — for the 2018-2019 school year on the accountability rating issued last week by the Texas Education Agency. The annual ratings rank districts and schools across the state based on an “A through F” scale.

For this year, the TEA is rating individual schools on the A through F scale for the first time after previously using a simplified pass or fail system. This mirrors a similar system that was put in place for districts starting last year.

“Performance continues to improve in Texas schools because of the tireless effort of Texas teachers, administrators and staff,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. “I am particularly proud of the educators at the 296 high-poverty schools that achieved an A rating this year.”

Last year, the district also received an “A” letter grade, but still improved this year compared to last year’s 94 out of a possible 100 score. TEA’s website states the district’s overview grade shows how well Prosper ISD prepares students for “success, both in school and after high school in college, a career, or the military.”

The district received “A” grades in each of the three performance details, scoring 94 on “Student Achievement,” 90 on “School Progress” and a near-perfect 99 on “Closing the Gaps,” which measures how well “different populations of students in a district are performing.”

Lovejoy Independent School District and the Imagine International Academy of North Texas, in McKinney, were the only ones with a higher overall score than Prosper ISD in Collin County, as both received a 98. The Anna Independent School District, McKinney Independent School District and Lone Star Language Academy, in Plano, were the only ones in Collin County to receive letter grades below an “A,” as all three received “B” grades.

Across Prosper ISD, all 12 of the district’s schools received “A” or “B” grades for the 2018-2019 school year, with Prosper High School and Cynthia A. Cockrell Elementary School leading the way with overall scores of 95 each. Light Farms Elementary School and Windsong Ranch Elementary School received overall scores of 86 and 87, respectively.

Prosper ISD Superintendent Drew Watkins did not respond to an email seeking comment on the district’s scores, but across the state, many superintendents have been critical of the A through F system as a whole as it places heavy significance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness while focusing on the results of one day of the student’s school year.

Gunter Independent School District saw a six-point improvement over its scores from last year and was awarded a 91, or an A. Despite the success, Superintendent Jill Siler said she has been working with the Texas Public Accountability Consortium to develop a more nuanced accountability system that takes into account more aspects of a student’s success.

Siler noted that 79 percent of high schools in the recent release received a score of an A or a B. However, only 55 percent and 56 percent of elementary and middle school students received the same ratings. Siler attributed this in part to the higher number of scoring criteria that are placed on high school scoring, while elementary and middle school results are based primarily on STAAR test results.

With that in mind, Siler said this places even further pressure on rural districts due to their smaller size. If a small school were to have only a few students perform poorly, it could skew the results more than a larger district with the same number of students performing poorly on standardized testing.

“If I had just three students walk in having a bad day, just had a 7 to 9 percent swing on my results,” she said.