2011 “FAST” Ratings for Texas Schools
Public education constitutes the largest single category of state spending in Texas.
For the 2012-2013 biennium, the Texas Legislature appropriated $38.6 billion in general revenue for public education, an amount equal to nearly 46 percent of all general revenue appropriations. This amount, moreover, is in addition to billions of dollars in local and federal spending slated for public education.
In the face of increasing state and federal student achievement standards, and a highly competitive global economy, it is imperative that these dollars be spent as effectively as possible.
To identify Texas school districts and campuses that achieve strong academic performance while keeping costs low, the Comptroller's office conducts an annual Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST). FAST examines district and campus expenditures and test scores as a way of evaluating the relationship between spending and student achievement.
In conjunction with expert consultants from the University of Texas at Dallas, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin, the FAST research team has developed the FAST Rating, a one- to five-star measure that incorporates an academic progress rating and a spending index.
The 2011 edition of FAST incorporates student achievement and financial data from the 2009-10 school year. Its analysis includes several measures that place Texas campuses and districts on a level playing field for comparisons of academic performance and spending.
The composite academic progress score uses a value-added model that measures student achievement to estimate how much a district or campus contributes to student learning in a given year.
The spending index compares districts and campuses with their "fiscal peers" to determine how cost effective they are compared to similar entities. Finally, the one- to five-star FAST Rating combines three-year averages of the academic progress score and spending index. The 2011 ratings include data from the 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years.
In 2011, the number of five-star charter and public school districts in Texas increased from 43 to 46. Of the 46 five-star districts, 23 held that rank last year as well.
For further information about how the FAST rating, academic progress score and spending index are calculated, please consult the FAST Technical Appendix. For details on changes, see the 2011 revisions to the FAST methodology.
The 2011 FAST school district, campus listings and online FAST tool can be found at www.FASTexas.org.