Texas’ New School Accountability System Could Reverse Falling Student Achievement

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board, shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

 

“Texas’ New School Accountability System Could Reverse Falling Student Achievement”

 No one likes to be held accountable for achievement, especially when the goal is extremely hard to attain. But raising the performance of our public schools so that every child has a legitimate shot at a decent education is both a moral imperative and an economic necessity in our increasingly competitive world.

For those reasons, we are encouraged by recent changes to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness or STAAR standards. Our sense is that STAAR is taking three broad steps forward.

First, STAAR is a standardized testing program and therefore comes with all of the normally attendant drawbacks to such exams. But testing is a necessity for anyone interested in improvement. And in this case, we like that STAAR exams have been made vastly more accessible to parents.

Simply put, parents will be able to log-on through a Texas Education Administration web site to see how their child performed and even the test questions they faced. Parents can also see how their child’s district, as well as school, performed. And rather than using confusing labels, scores for districts and schools will be assigned a letter grade from A through F.

If that seems less than revolutionary, consider this fact: There may be no better source to press a local school to improve than local parents. By arming parents with real information about their kids and their schools, Texas has just created a mechanism for continuous improvement (assuming that officials don’t water down the tests to rob the entire process of its meaning).

The second reason STAAR took a step forward this year is this: The system is now designed to encourage improvement regardless of how a student scores. So even if a student turns in a B performance, the system now has built-in mechanisms to encourage schools to help that student master the subject. That new pressure will likely improve overall performance.

And finally, the third reason we are encouraged by the work being done through STAAR is that there has been some care taken to win buy-in throughout the system. The exam questions are being developed by teachers, and the teachers will also have access to key pieces of data. These facets of the system will help create quality exams and enable teachers to identify how best to help students raise their performance. This level of inclusion gives the system a better chance at success.

The first round of A through F district scores are due to be released on Aug. 15. Over time, each campus will get a letter grade, too. Our hope is that STAAR now enables parents and school officials to be better equipped as they make tough decisions.

Raising educational achievement isn’t easy. But then the teachers we know show up every day because they are dedicated to one of the hardest challenges facing us today.  

https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2018/07/30/texas-new-school-accountability-system-could-reverse-falling-student-achievement

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com