Dr. Howell Wright

School districts around the state received TAKS scores for individual students this past week. If your child is in grades 3-11 they received their score sheet on Friday for you to review. While a TAKS score does not reflect everything about a student the scores are very important to determine a student’s progress with the state standards called the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). A new interpretation of a law by the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency that was enacted during the last legislative session requires any student in grades 3-8 that does not pass the Reading or Math TAKS to receive accelerated instruction before the next school year begins in order to be promoted to the next grade.

In grades 5 and 8 students are required by law to pass the TAKS Reading and Math for promotion. These grades are considered Student Success Initiative Grades. Students in grades 5 and 8 are provided three opportunities to pass the Math and Reading TAKS test. Rockdale ISD will use summer school as our method of accelerated instruction. We will offer summer school (tuition free as required by law) for any student in grades 3-8 that did not pass the Math and/or Reading TAKS this year.

Campus personnel will make phone calls and send letters to parents if their child is required to meet the accelerated instruction requirement. The accelerated instruction summer school begins on Monday, June 13 and will end on June 27. Summer school will begin at 8 a.m. and end at noon. The third administration of TAKS Math and Reading for students in Grades 5 and 8 that must retake one or both tests will take place on June 28 and 29.

Rockdale ISD will also offer English as a Second Language summer school to qualified students from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from June 6-30. Additionally, we will have the ACE Summer Camp funded by our 21st Century Grant that from June 6-30 as well. ACE is an enrichment and tutorial program that will be from 8 a.m. to noon. Finally, our high school students that need credit recovery for core courses will have two sessions per day from 8-10 a.m. and 10 a.m. to noon from June 6-27.

Breakfast and lunch is available to all students whether they are attending summer school or not. Transportation is available in the morning prior to 8 a.m. and following lunch. Also, to clarify rumor students do not get the last day of school off for passing TAKS. The only way that a student can miss school is if they are exempted from their final exams under the exemption policy set forth by the campus. If you have a doubt about your child’s exemption please call the campus they attend.

My prediction was wrong about having an answer regarding school funding by Wednesday of last week, but by the time this article goes to print the regular session will be complete with or without a bill that describes how school funds will be distributed. As of 2 p.m. this past Friday a deal between the Senate and the House had not occurred. The last information I received declared 5 p.m. Friday as a deadline for completing a deal for school finance (even though they legally could still have a plan by the end of Saturday).

While waiting for an answer from the conference committee members on funding distribution, Rep. Turner on the House Floor questioned where the legislature was going if there wasn’t a plan and Rep. Keefer stated that “no one wants to do something just to go home”. Rep. Schwertner has periodically updated me on any progress between the committee members over the past week. As of Thursday night there has not been any noted progress.

I question the Legislature’s “wait till the last minute” approach. Everyone has known officially since January that school funding was going to be a huge challenge, but here we are again waiting until the end of a session to fix what has been put off for the past four months (the Senate has worked on a funding solution as far back as two months ago). They have found the time for other education bills, in fact as of this past Friday there were 73 education bills sent to the Governor for approval or waiting for House and Senate action.

Sen. Ogden has been a champion for public schools this session and has attempted to convince legislators to use the Rainy Day Fund and to fix public school funding now instead of later. From other legislators we have heard “the school children of Texas come first”, but I believe as my mother used to tell me “actions speak louder than words”. As a general body state lawmakers have been clear that funding public education is not a priority. Maybe they too will have to attend summer school.

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2011-06-02 digital edition

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