– The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released preliminary financial
accountability ratings for more than 1,100 school districts and charters across
the state, with 87 percent earning the highest preliminary rating
possible for 2018-2019.
Created by the 77th Texas
Legislature in 2001, the
School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) is designed to
encourage public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide
the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.
The FIRST ratings are calculated
using 15 financial indicators, such as administrative cost expenditures;
the accuracy of a district or charter’s financial information submitted to TEA;
and any financial vulnerabilities or material weaknesses in internal controls
as determined by an external auditor.
Ratings for 2018-2019 are based on annual financial reports provided to TEA by
districts and charters for the 2018 fiscal year. The financial accountability
system requires TEA to review the audited financial reports from all districts
school district or open-enrollment charter is assigned one of four possible
letter grades (A, B, C or F), as well as a coinciding financial management
rating (Superior, Above
Standard Achievement, Meets Standard or Substandard Achievement).
For 2018-2019, the preliminary FIRST ratings are as follows:
A – Superior
B – Above Standard Achievement
C – Meets Standard
F – Substandard Achievement
are five critical
indicators that result in an automatic F or Substandard
Achievement rating should a school district or open-enrollment charter fail
in that specific category – regardless of overall score.
In addition, preliminary FIRST
ratings for charter schools
operated by a public institution of higher education (IHE) are being assigned
for the first time. Based on 7 indicators, IHEs are assigned
either a Pass or Fail rating. For 2018-2019, every public institution of higher education operating a charter
school (8) received a preliminary FIRST rating of Pass.
IHEs, there two critical indicators that result in an automatic Fail rating should an IHE fail in that
specific category – regardless of the overall score.
All school districts and
charters are required to report information and financial accountability
ratings to parents and taxpayers.
In addition, districts and charters must hold a public discussion or hearing
regarding its financial report.
TEA has formally notified school
districts and charters of their preliminary FIRST rating. Any district or charter
wishing to appeal its rating must submit a written appeal, with supporting
evidence, to TEA by September 9, 2019. Following a review of all the submitted
appeals, final 2018-2019 school FIRST ratings are expected to be released in
If no appeal is submitted to TEA by
the district or charter school, the preliminary rating becomes final on the 31st
day (September 10, 2019) after preliminary ratings are released. To review the preliminary 2018-2019
FIRST ratings for all districts and charters (plus view final FIRST ratings
from previous years), visit the TEA website at http://tea.texas.gov/index4.aspx?id=3864.