Superintendents from across the Rio Grande Valley met at Region One Education Services Center on Thursday to discuss this year’s state accountability ratings, in which nine Valley districts scored A grades, the top letter grade a district can achieve.

Considering that the region has the highest concentration of students from low-income households, the results of the state accountability ratings have brought attention from across the state to the Valley.

Half of the population in the state is “economically disadvantaged,” said Dr. Eduardo Cancino, deputy director of instructional leadership, school improvement and college readiness support at Region One.

Schools are rated both on how they compare to schools all over the state as well as schools that serve similar populations, Cancino said, adding that only four out of the 600 schools in region one met standard.

Only 10 percent of the students identified as “economically disadvantaged” students go on to obtain any higher education, he added.

This is the first year that TEA awards official A-F letter grades to school districts as it transitions out of the former pass-fail system. The overall letter grade for the school districts is based on three new domains: Student Achievement, Student Progress and Closing the Gaps.

The former system will still apply for individual campuses, but a “what if” letter-grade will be released for these later this year.

Sara Alvarado, superintendent of Lasara ISD, which also scored an A rating, said support of Region One staff is what helped get her district there.

“As a superintendent of a small rural school, and I have right now approximately 400 students, we depend so much on the support of Region One and their staff,” Alvarado said. “In small, rural, school districts we’re one person doing a lot of roles, so we need the support from all the departments here… They go above and beyond for each of us.”

Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez, executive director of Region One, responded to Alvarado, return the thanks.

“For a region one it’s a great pride to serve you. Seeing the results that you all have obtained - it makes us all proud,” he said. “We contribute a very little part of your big success.”