Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST)
The state's school financial accountability rating system, known as the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), ensures that Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and that they improve these practices. The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.
Changes effective with the 2022-2023 School FIRST Ratings
The Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §109.1001(n)(9)(A) and (B) was recently amended to allow for adjustments to scores and ratings upon appeal for FIRST Indicator 1—Timely Submissions of the Annual Financial Report.
- School FIRST Change—Appeal for Timely Submission of Annual Financial Report Slides
- Video: FIRST Changes Related to Indicator 1
Helpful Hints for Determining Your FIRST Rating
The following steps should be taken to anticipate and make the best estimate of how a district will score on FIRST:
- Review the information before the annual financial audit is completed. (The annual financial report [AFR] belongs to the district, not the CPA firm. It is the district’s responsibility.) This should involve spot-checking numbers against the district’s general ledger and other financial records.
- Ask the auditor about anything that does not look correct in AFR. (Examples: Why is the unrestricted net position negative? Were there any identified material miscoding errors?)
- If deemed appropriate, ask the Education Service Center to help review the AFR before it is finalized or contract with another CPA firm to help with the review.
- Use the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) Schools FIRST Template (https://www.tasbo.org/tools-services/schools-first-communication-kit) to run your estimated FIRST results.
- Attend presentations on FIRST and use the information.
- If you have questions, contact TEA's Financial Compliance Division at 512-463-9095 or email@example.com.
- Official Notification of 2022-2023 Preliminary FIRST Ratings Based on 2022 Data
- Official Notification of 2021-2022 Final FIRST Ratings Based on 2021 Data
- Official Notification of 2021-2022 Preliminary FIRST Ratings Based on 2021 Data
- Official Notification of 2020-2021 Final FIRST Ratings Based on 2020 Data
- Official Notification of 2020-2021 Preliminary FIRST Ratings Based on 2020 Data
School FIRST Annual Financial Management Report Template for Use by School Districts
Law and Rules
- Texas Education Code (TEC), Chapter 39, Subchapter D, Financial Accountability
- TEC, §39.051, Accreditation Status
- TEC, §39.102, Interventions and Sanctions for Districts