New consortium might help develop new state accountability system

This past legislative session the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1557. This bill enables selected districts to participate in the development of what will hopefully be our state’s next accountability system. The group of schools that participate with the components of SB 1557 will be called the High Performance Schools Consortium.

We have been using an accountability system since the early 1990s that is reflective of one thing; the test scores of the poorest performing students. Today I will list half of the guidelines for schools that are selected to participate in the High Performance Schools Consortium. I will provide the other half next week.

These guidelines are based off of the document that was listed in my last article called Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. If you want to access the document you can go to the Texas Association of School Administrators website, click on the tab New Vision/School Transformation and then click on the Visioning document.

The next generation of assessment and accountability systems created by participants in the High Performance Schools Consortium should reflect the following general principles which are inherent to the New Vision for Public Education in Texas. The detailed provisions participant districts develop should:

1. Explicitly define the major learning standards for which the school and community are to be responsible and accountable as derived from state standards, college readiness expectations, local community expectations, and Texas’ job competitiveness. (New Vision for Public Education; Article II)

2. Frame high priority learning standards as cognitively demanding content and performance standards that respect the multiple talents of all students and define the outcomes for what is expected of all or nearly all students at the transitional ages of 9. 13 and 17, or additional ages at their discretion. (New Vision for Public Education ;Article II)

3. Leverage the power of digital technologies, data management, and information access in transforming and teaching learning and in determining the design of assessment and accountability systems. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles I, III, IV, V)

4. Define a set of indicators of school quality—measures of progress toward meeting the learning standards—and include an evaluation of relevant inputs, processes, and performance outcomes. These indicators should be comprehensive and reflect the full range of what students experience in school, what they learn, how well they are prepared for college/career studies, and for living responsibly in a free society. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles IV, V)

5. Incorporate multiple measures with a focus on student performance assessments that inform teachers, capitalize on student motives, encourage greater effort, stimulate confidence in students that they can learn to the levels required to meet the learning standards or some reasonable variation of them. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles II, III, IV)

I think that when most people see all of the guidelines over the next two weeks they will agree that public schools should continue to follow in this direction. There will be up to 20 school districts selected to participate in this consortium that was created by the Texas Legislature. Rockdale ISD, or any of the RISD schools did not apply, but we will be supportive of those schools that are chosen to design a better measurement tool for our schools.

The purpose of this accountability system is to recognize the things that schools are doing well and to use multiple assessments to determine individual academic needs as opposed to the current system that only recognizes the failure of a demographic group of students on one test that is administered one day out of the year.

Next week I will provide our readers with the other six guidelines and continue our discussion of a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.

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