Marlin ISD poised to join lawsuit against Texas Education Agency

(Photo by John Carroll)
(Photo by John Carroll)(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 16, 2016 at 5:56 PM CDT
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The struggling Marlin ISD is poised to join a lawsuit that challenges the legality of the state’s standardized tests after the district failed to meet standards for a fifth straight year.

Marlin Superintendent Dr. Michael Seabolt said Friday he will ask the Marlin School Board Tuesday night to authorize the action.

"I think Marlin ISD will be the first to join this lawsuit as party plaintiffs and essentially that makes Marlin as a school district ground zero for state testing accountability reform."

"We want the TEA to follow the law on the star exams and not hold Marlin accountable for illegal tests,” he said.

The lawsuit the district hopes to join was filed in August by six women who argue that the agency didn’t follow a law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015 that set time limits for the administration of the STAAR Test to students in grades three through eight.

“It seeks the scores of three through eighth grade STAAR scores to be used for no purpose is in the state of Texas not for student promotion purpose school accountability purposes, no purpose,” Seabolt said.

“We are also filing an appeal on the recent accountability ratings we received,” Seabolt said Friday.

"I'm a fighter and I’m going to fight for Marlin ISD the way Marlin ISD deserves to be fought for....somewhere along the way people forgot there were children here,” he said.

Marlin school officials learned in August the district failed to meet state standards for a fifth straight year, although there were some encouraging signs.

The district showed marked improvement in its middle and high schools, but elementary scores remained low.

The district passed only two of four indices, one fewer than the state requires.

Marlin High School scored four points higher than the state requirement in student progress, four points higher in closing performance gaps and 9 points higher than state standard in post-secondary readiness.

It's the only campus that met state standards.

Marlin Middle School exceeded state standards in the student progress Index by nine points, but did not meet state standards in the student achievement Index, closing performance gaps Index and the post-secondary readiness.

Marlin Elementary School did not meet state standards in any one of the four rating indices.

The TEA told Marlin school officials last year that if they did not bring test scores up this year to meet state standards, or at least show remarkable improvement, the district would be taken over by the state or closed all together in the 2016-17 year.

An abatement agreement with the State kept the doors of Marlin school open this fall, but it's just not clear who will be running the district, the present board of trustees and Seabolt, or state-appointed officials.