High performance schools consortium, part two

Las tweek I wrote about the Senate Bill 1557 that was passed by the legislature this past session. 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 1990’s that is reflective of one thing; the test scores of the poorest performing students. 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 ref lect eleven general principles of which the first five were written about last week. These principles are inherent to the New Vision for Public Education in Texas. Listed are the final six detailed provisions participant districts should develop:

6. Design and use high quality assessments that have meaning and importance to teachers and school leaders, and that utilize their professional capabilities in ways that inspires in them a collective sense of internalized accountability—the highest and most important aspect of effective accountability systems. (New Vision for Public Education; Article III, IV)

7. Generate reports that contain sufficient detail to inform students, teachers, parents, and the community about the quality of student learning and progress toward the learning standards and success of graduates. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles I, II, III, IV) 8. Ref lect any disparities in educational progress in terms of student performance, access to learning and organizational capacities to ensure equity and excellence for all students. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles IV, V, VI)

9. Be characterized by complete transparency, responsive to local context, Texas’ job competitive- ness, authenticity and contain public verification processes that engender trust and confidence. External Quality Review Teams should be established to conduct audits of district progress using effective sampling techniques. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles IV, V. VI)

10. Integrate the use of standardized tests for broad scale indicators of trends as deemed appropriate by schools, districts, or the Quality Review Team. If labels are used for students, schools, or districts, standardized test results should not be the sole student performance indicator. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles III, IV, VI)

11. Provide for collaboration among participating districts on all aspects of the system including professional development for teachers and school leaders on effective assessment tools and processes. (New Vision for Public Education; Articles IVI)

I believe that the qualities of a high performing school system involve the tenets that were listed over the last two weeks. It is clear that in Texas we have become so focused on passing a test that we have moved away from allowing our students to be creative and innovative in the classroom. We need to be able to have an accountability system that inspires educators to provide engaging learning opportunities for all of our students; an accountability system that ensures that our students will be prepared for their future and the world they will face.

The schools chosen for the High Performing Schools Consortium will lead the way for us in Texas to develop a more sensible system of assessments that help students instead of labeling them and an accountability system that recognizes multiple indicators of a good school system instead of solely the scores of a standardized test.

I am looking forward to learning what these chosen schools will discover and develop and am trusting that in the next round of accountability systems we will have one that is more supportive of learning.

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