Students to be ranked by zone, not school after Fort Bend ISD vote

Students at Fort Bend ISD will soon be ranked based on where they’re zoned instead of where they actually attend school. Although multiple parents urged board trustees to consider delaying the vote, trustees voted unanimously to pass the measure at a meeting Monday evening.

Parents said having a vote right before the holidays and in the midst of finals was poor timing. Some said they feel as though their voices were not being heard by school educators.

Nehal Dave was one of the parents stunned by the board’s decision.

“This was the wrong decision. This should not happen. They had the guts to look at these kids' eyes and pass this? This is wrong. I’m taking my kid out of this district right away,” said Dave.

Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre said the core purpose of the measure is to help level the playing field for college admissions in the district.

In Texas, any student that ranks in the top 10% of their class receives automatic admission to any public university in the state.

“We actually have about five academies (in the district). In most cases, students who are transferred to the school from the academy are knocking a significant number of zoned students who live in the attendance boundary out of the top 10%, so we believe that’s not fair. That’s not equitable,” said Dupre.

“For the class of 2018, 80 percent of the top 10 percent at High Tower High School were academy students, zoned to other high schools. What that means is at least 33 kids who were zoned to High Tower did not get an opportunity for automatic admission in their own zoned high school,” Dupre continued.

In some cases, a student could even become the valedictorian or salutatorian at a school whose campus they’ve never stepped foot on.

A number of current 8th graders in the district showed up to the board meeting Monday, wearing shirts that said "Class of 2024". Those students would be the first class to be affected by this measure.

Current Fort Bend ISD high school students will not be affected.

School officials said they believe this was the best move for the district.

 Trustee Kristin Rassin said she was making the decision as a parent as well.

“This affects my daughter and Allison (Drew)’s daughter too. They’re both in the 7th grade,” said Rassin during the meeting.

However, parents like Judy Dae said she felt like trustees had already made up their mind before the meeting. Dae addressed trustees and called the new ranking system a fraud.

“They say they’ve been discussing this for six years but as a parent, as a very involved parent or community member-- none of us actually heard about this kind of discussion,” said Dae.

“We just wanted them to delay the vote. We didn’t tell them to say no, we just wanted more time to discuss this,” Dae continued.

“It’s not just about competing. A student can go to any of our high schools at this point in time and get an education. I’m not going to say identical because it will never be, but it’s going to be very, very similar,” said Dupre.

Fort Bend ISD will now also eliminate rankings for students in everything other than the top 10%. However, students can still request their ranking if they need it for a scholarship or college application.