Newcastle, Olney join coalition refuting state rating system

NEWCASTLE— The Newcastle Independent School District became the second Young County municipality in as many weeks to voice its opposition to a new state rating system.

Just one week after passage of a similar measure by the Olney Independent School District, Newcastle took its turn to weigh in on a new school district rating system that Superintendent Ty Spitzer described as rife with political motivations.

“So far, 220 schools have done this ... To me, it’s a political thing,” Spitzer said. “It’s tied to vouchers. It’s not that I’m against that, but if it gets to where they are taking public money and giving it to private institutions, who are not affected by this, that is where it gets to me. I am for accountability, it makes schools better, but sometimes it goes too far. This is tied to vouchers.”

Spitzer said the current rating system, may not factor in some issues affecting schools with sparse populations. Spitzer said Newcastle rated a C on the student achievement portion despite having well over the state average in that category.

“We were well above average, but you have to look at how many did really well, not just past it ... I’m sure if you had all A’s then I’m sure you would not be against it,” Spitzer said.

His largest concern centered on the purpose of the A-to-F Rating System, which he said even state legislators point out is not a predictor of campus performance.

“They have not got it figured out how they are going to do it,” Spitzer said. “I think it’s a poverty thing. A school that might do an outstanding job with their kids and have a C, while Highland Park, where you are not going to get a low-economic kid in Highland Park, that is where I see it as not fair.”