AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -

The state's top education official says he will direct Texas to rate schools and school districts based on letter grades A through F starting next year.

The current system ranks schools and districts on a scale from "Exemplary" to "Academically Unacceptable."

A series of bills in the Texas Legislature sought to replace it with grades, which are used in Florida and some other states.

But Education Commissioner Michael Williams told the state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday that he planned to simply order the change beginning in academic year 2014 - without waiting for legislative approval.

Williams said he was going to announce the change last week when unveiling a totally revamped school accountability system.

But he said he delayed that announcement when he was summoned to address the committee.