What about the future of Public Education in Texas? Look at HB 2824 and The Texas High Performance Schools Consortium (THPSC).
The state of Texas employs 600,000 educators to serve the needs of over five million students at a cost that makes up almost half of the states annual budget. Any corporation of that size should be heavily involved in the Research & Development process for the future. In the past, our legislature has relied on outside entities to do the lion’s share of that work. This decision resulted in the STAAR/EOC system we have today. The educational environment of high stakes testing and accountability tied to the lowest performing sub-group is the reality of letting non-Texas education professionals take the lead in the assessment and accountability process for our students.
Representative Bennett Ratliff (District 115) introduced HB 2824 to allow the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium to be the Texas Education R&D Department for Accountability and Assessment. I am proud to say that our House Representative, David Simpson, is a Co-Author of that piece of legislation. HB 2824 creates the legal pathway for 23 school districts to be removed from the requirements of the current system and work together for the purpose of creating a completely new method of Assessment and Accountability. The new system would rely on multiple assessment pieces that are meaningful and relevant to the student’s development as a college/career ready graduate. The accountability of the district would be to the stakeholders within the district first, and the state would return to the role of monitoring schools for accreditation. The Consortium is charged with the task of researching and making recommendations to the Commissioner of Education in four key areas:
• Digital Learning – this includes the use of digital devices, digital instructional materials and courses offered through the Texas Virtual Schools Network (TxVSN)
• High Priority Learning Standards – these standards will focus on college and career readiness and allow educators the latitude to create student centered lessons with depth and rigor
• Multiple Assessments – students mastery of the learning standards will be documented and measured through the body of work, not by high stakes testing that occurs one time per year
• Increasing Local Control – districts will rely on local input and decision-making that enable communities/parents to be involved in the education of their children. The community will be kept up-to-date on the progress of the district in meeting mastery of learning standards as well as how our students measure up to state, federal and international expectations.
The Consortium has five years to complete this work and make the required recommendations to the Commissioner. During that time, a phase-out of current assessment and accountability requirements will take place. The 23 school districts involved will then phase in the process of creating the new system. A key feature of the new system will be an electronic student portfolio that contains work samples used as a body of evidence that mastery of the learning standards has occurred.
The process is extensive, it is long and it is complicated. In the end, the result will be a system of education that is rigorous, relevant and challenging to the students. It will not be easier than the current system but it will be more interesting which will create greater success for the learners. It is my hope that each of you will contact your legislators and encourage them to support HB 2824. The future of the students in the State of Texas is important and worth the effort to create this new system. You can find out more information about the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium by clicking on the link below:
Finally, I want to emphasize that the work of the THPSC is not being done to benefit 23 school districts and 200,00 students. This work was sanctioned and is being done for the purpose of creating a 21st century learning environment for every student in the Texas Public School System. There has been a great deal of discussion about “what is wrong with the Texas Public Schools”. To date, most of the remedies suggested include taking students out of the public schools and placing them in a different educational environment. The members of the THPSC are working on creating that “new environment” within the framework of an existing system that employs thousands of dedicated education professionals ready to meet the needs of our five million plus students.
Thank you for your time and any support you may give to the effort of the THPSC.
Superintendent, White Oak ISD
Member, Texas High Performance Schools Consortium