Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Aug. 26, 2016

Here’s a look at some stories that made news this week in the world of Texas education:


ThinkstockPhotos-185034697_gavelcashTexas’s much-maligned standardized tests were once again the focus of media attention this week. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced this week that it is imposing harsh financial penalties against the vendor that administers the state’s STAAR tests after a number of problems occurred during test administrations this spring. Also this week, a judge assigned to a lawsuit filed by parents objecting to the STAAR test refused to grant the state’s motion to have that case dismissed. Read more about the latest STAAR-related developments in this week’s blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter. Exter also discussed the testing company fines in an interview with KVUE News, which you can view here.

 


Texas lawmakers involved in the biennial budget-writing process are starting to look more closely at education funding as the 85th legislative session approaches. ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson and ATPE Political Involvement Coordinator Edwin Ortiz attended a meeting this week of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Article III, which oversees the education portion of the state budget. Wednesday’s hearing was a discussion of an interim charge dealing with public education programs that are funded outside the Foundation School Program (FSP). Learn more about the hearing in our blog post from yesterday.

 


ATPE_Logo_Stacked_Tag_ColorATPE members and employees have been showcased in a number of media features this week with the start of a new school year. Round Rock ATPE member Stephanie Stoebe talked to KEYE TV in Austin about how she engages students using popular “Pokemon Go” characters. Stoebe also joined ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey on Time Warner Cable Austin to discuss how the use of technology in the classroom can also increase opportunities for bullying. They urged educators and parents to talk to children about the risks of cyberbullying, which some lawmakers hope to address in the upcoming legislative session. Also on TWC news, a number of ATPE members contributed to a recent story about how teachers can talk to their students about difficult currrent events, such as problems of racism and violent attacks. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter also talked to KSAT about new education laws that are taking effect this school year. Be sure to follow @TeachtheVote on Twitter and ATPE on Facebook for coverage of these and other stories about how ATPE members are making a difference in the lives of students.

 


 

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Subcommittee looks at funding for education programs in Texas

Dollar fanOn Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III, which covers education aspects of the state budget, held a public hearing in Austin. The focus of this first meeting on interim charge 13 was to discuss specific public education programs that are funded outside the Foundation School Program (FSP) and administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The committee is tasked with making recommendations that increase, decrease, or eliminate programs based on measurable performance and effectiveness.

The vast majority of all education funding dollars in Texas are sent to school districts through the FSP. Tens of billions of dollars every year are distributed based on school district characteristics and the student population. Outside of the FSP, there are special programs that are funded as individual line items in the state budget. Before the massive budget reduction in 2011, there were significant projects funded at hundreds of millions of dollars apiece, such as the Student Success Initiative and the state educator incentive pay program known as DATE. Since that time, these programs are fewer and have been funded at a much lower level.

These types of interim meetings take place every two years as agencies are submitting their budget requests to the state and the appropriating committees, House Appropriations and Senate Finance, prepare for lengthy, in-depth hearings while the two-year state budget is created. There were no serious policy proposals or shifts that came from Wednesday’s meeting; however, what was discussed was that there are very important programs funded at relatively low levels that depend on an ongoing commitment from the state. These include programs such as Communities in Schools, money for newly constructed educational facilities, and funding for accelerated instruction of at-risk students. The committee seemed to be in agreement that all of these initiatives play crucial roles in meeting the many challenges facing our public school population. The question going forward will be whether there is broad political will to make the necessary investments in our state’s public education system.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) mentioned that that the House Appropriations Committee and House Public Education Committee will hold a joint meeting to take a closer look into school finance sometime next month. ATPE will cover that hearing and provide updates for Teach the Vote.

Video of the full subcommittee hearing can be viewed here.

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An eventful week for STAAR

In a statement released yesterday, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced just short of $21 million  in penalties against the state’s new testing vendor, ETS. The company will have to fork over $5.7 million in fines and spend $15 million of its own funds on improvements related to a number of failures of the testing system during the last school year. To put the $21 million in penalties into context, ETS’s STAAR contract with the state is worth $280 million over a four-year period. The areas to be improved include online testing system enrollment; shipping; online testing; precoding; and scoring and reporting. ThinkstockPhotos-455285291_gavel

In other STAAR related news, District Judge Stephen Yelenosky this Monday denied the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it by a group of parents over continued dissatisfaction with STAAR testing. The state claimed that the parents lacked standing to bring the suit. Judge Yelenosky disagreed with that argument, and the case will move forward.

The lawsuit against the education agency seeks to invalidate the 2015-16 STAAR scores and is based on the premise that the exams were not administered in compliance with House Bill 743 (2015) by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble). That bill passed last session requires the state to design STAAR exams so that a majority of elementary and middle school students can complete them within a specific time frame. The time standard is two hours for third- through fifth-graders, or three hours for sixth- through eighth-graders. TEA has maintained that it needs more time to collect test-related data before the exams can be redesigned.

TEA’s statement on the ETS penalties announced this week can be found here.

For more on the STAAR-related lawsuit, check out this article from the Texas Tribune.

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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Aug. 19, 2016

Catch up on this week’s education news here:


tea-logo-header-2The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the 2016 district and school academic accountability ratings this week. While there was a very slight uptick in the number of districts needing improvement, driven in part by a 68.7% increase in the percentage of charters failing to meet standards, the number of campuses rated improvement required, the more important indicator, continued to decrease. From 2013 to 2016, the number of campuses rated Improvement Required has steadily dropped from 768, or 9% of all campuses, to 467, just 5.4% of campuses. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter breaks down the ratings here.

 


capitol building, austin, texas, usa

The Senate Education Committee met on Tuesday to hear testimony and updates on interim charges involving governance and the implementation of bills passed by the Texas Legislature last session that dealt with prekindergarten and educator preparation. The charges included the following:

Examine current school board governance policies and practices and make recommendations that could improve the focus, attitudes, and outcomes of Texas school boards, districts, and students. Study existing board training requirements for public schools and make suggestions to education school board trustees of policies that could achieve better student outcomes, particularly within the framework set for low-performing schools in House Bill 1842 (HB1842)(84R).

Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Education and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. Specifically, monitor the following:

  • Initiatives to build a high-quality pre-kindergarten grant program; and
  • Legislation to raise standards of teacher preparation programs and establish a more consistent, high-quality accountability system.

In comments to the committee, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath told senators that he has set a goal to cut the number of low-performing schools in half over the next five years. He spoke regularly about the importance of district leadership and said the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will take an aggressive approach to assigning and building district-level interventions, saying he believes that the harsher options are often the most effective. ATPE testified on the charge, reminding senators that while focusing on low-performing schools is important, we can’t do so with merely a band-aid approach. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter told the committee that there are systemic issues that need addressing, and we must look at the inputs of the system in addition to the outputs.

On educator preparation and prekindergarten, the agency and other invited testifiers updated the committee on the implementation of bills falling into these issue areas. There has been significant reporting on the implementation of HB 4, the Governor’s prekindergarten bill from last session. The per-student funding ultimately provided was a level far below expectations, and some districts have turned down the funding because the expense of implementing all of the bill’s quality control requirements exceeds the funding received. Still, others were present to showcase how they are using the supplemental funding to enhance or build their prekindergarten programs. At the hearing on Tuesday, some senators questioned whether the prekindergarten investment was worth it; many senators and testifiers felt it was too soon to see the benefits in Texas and pointed to a body of research on the advantages to prekindergarten.

ATPE has been a leader on raising standards for educator preparation in Texas. Last session, we filed and helped pass several pieces of legislation that raised standards for candidate entrance requirements and preparation programs throughout Texas. The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and TEA are currently in the process of implementing some of those provisions as well as making additional rule changes. ATPE was once again before the committee this month to support raised standards. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann told lawmakers that ATPE remains focused on the issue because we cannot place ill-prepared teachers in the classroom and expect excellence. She told senators it is critical that we focus on strong training and continue to support teachers as they grow in their practice.

Watch a broadcast of the full hearing here.

 


The often controversial education reform groups Texans for Education Reform (TER) and the Texas Institute for Education Reform (TIER) have officially joined forces, merging to become Texas Aspires. The new group will maintain much of the staff, board members, funding, and priorities previously held by the two groups. Texas Aspires is expected to announce more of its vision next week. Staying on board will be former Texas State Senator Florence Shapiro and many business-focused board members who fund and direct the organization. It is unclear at this time as to whether the group will maintain its almost two-dozen lobby contracts that propelled the group’s influence during previous legislative sessions. Watch for more on Teach the Vote as Texas Aspires begins to position itself ahead of next session.

 


ATPE wishes all educators beginning a new school year a very happy back-to-school! Best wishes to you and all Texas students! Welcome back to school poster

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TEA releases 2016 accountability ratings

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released preliminary state accountability ratings this week. Per TEA, the ratings reveal that approximately 94 percent of school districts and charters across Texas have achieved the rating of Met Standard.

Districts, charter organizations, and the individual campuses associated with either receive one of three ratings under the state’s accountability system: Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard, or Improvement Required.

The 2016 ratings are based on a system that uses a range of indicators to provide greater detail about the performance of a district or charter organization and individual campuses throughout the state. The performance index framework includes four areas:

  • Student Achievement – Provides a snapshot of performance across all subjects
  • Student Progress – Measures year-to-year student progress by subject and student group
  • Closing Performance Gaps – Emphasizes the academic achievement of economically disadvantaged students and the lowest performing racial/ethnic student groups
  • Postsecondary Readiness – Emphasizes the importance of earning a high school diploma that provides students with the foundation necessary for success in college, the workforce, job training programs, or the military

In order to earn a rating of Met Standard or Met Alternative Standard, a campus or district must meet the target on either Index 1: student achievement, or Index 2: student progress, plus meet the targets on Index 3 and Index 4.

School district ratings (including charter operators) by category in 2016 are as follows:

2016 RATING

DISTRICT

CHARTER

TOTAL

PERCENT

Met Standard/Alternative

978

153

1,131

93.7%

Met Standard

978

123

1,101

91.2%

Met Alternative Standard

N/A

30

30

2.5%

Improvement Required

44

22

66

5.5%

Not Rated

2

8

10

0.8%

TOTAL

1,024

183

1,207

100.0%

While there was a very slight uptick in the number of districts needing improvement driven in part by a 68.7% increase in the percentage of charters failing to meet standards, the number of campuses rated Improvement Required, the more important indicator, continued to decrease. From 2013 to 2016, the number of campuses rated Improvement Required has steadily dropped from 768, or 9% of all campuses, to 467, which is only 5.4% of campuses.

Campus ratings (including both ISD and charter campuses) by category and school type are as follows:

2016 RATING

ELEM

MIDDLE

HS

K-12

TOTAL

PERCENT

Met Standard/Alternative

4,400

1,533

1,431

303

7,667

88.4%

Met Standard

4,399

1,523

1,211

288

7,421

85.6%

Met Alternative Standard

1

10

220

15

246

2.8%

Improvement Required

234

118

67

48

467

5.4%

Not Rated

66

43

286

144

539

6.2%

TOTAL

4,700

1,694

1,784

495

8,673

100.0%

For the 2015-2016 school year, the number of campuses achieving a rating of Met Standard or Met Alternative Standard increased compared to the previous years, while the number of campuses receiving a rating of Improvement Required decreased.

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

RATING

#

%

#

%

#

%

#

%

Met Standard/Alternative

7,207

84.2%

7,285

85.0%

7,476

86.5%

7,667

88.4%

Improvement Required

768

9.0%

733

8.5%

603

7.0%

467

5.4%

Districts, charters, and campuses can appeal the rating assigned on Aug. 15. TEA will release the final 2016 ratings based on the outcomes of the appeals in December. Barring legislation during the upcoming legislative session that changes the accountability system, this will be the final year that schools will be rated either Met Standards or Improvement Required. Next year, districts, charter organizations, and campuses will all receive an A-F letter grade.

To view the 2016 state accountability ratings for districts, charters, and campuses, visit the TEA website.

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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Aug. 12, 2016

Happy Friday! Read highlights of this week’s education news:


skd282694sdcOn Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released preliminary financial accountability ratings for the state’s public schools for the 2015-16 school year. As was the case with the 2014-15 ratings, TEA announced that nearly 98 percent of Texas school districts and charter schools have earned superior ratings under the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST).

Under the FIRST rating system, 15 financial indicators are used to assign each school district or charter school a letter grade of A, B, C, or F, along with a corresponding financial management rating of Superior, Above Standard Achievement, Meets Standard, or Substandard Achievement. In the most recent analysis, four districts and four charter schools were assigned an “F” grade through the FIRST rating system. Seventeen districts and 10 charters earned “B” grades, and there were no “C” grades assigned this year. Districts and charters that are displeased with their assigned ratings may appeal the preliminary findings before TEA releases the final financial accountability ratings in October.

View TEA’s full press release about FIRST ratings here.

 


ATPE Lobbyists Monty Exter and Kate Kuhlmann were in Chicago this week for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) 2016 Legislative Summit. The NCSL Summit is the largest gathering of its kind where legislators, staff, and policy stakeholders from all over the country meet to discuss, learn about, and share perspective on national, state, and local policy issues.

Exter and Kuhlmann attended a variety of sessions within the education and election tracks this week, met with Texas legislators and their staffs, and networked with other policy and education professionals throughout the country. Session topics included, to name a few, a presentation of opposing views on the constitutionality of vouchers, discussions on new opportunities and limitations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the rollout of a new NCSL report on what states can learn from policies common among the highest performing nations. Kuhlmann and Exter are excited to bring back what they’ve learned and utilize the connections they’ve made to help ATPE achieve its policy goals.

 


As more school districts opt to pursue designation as Districts of Innovation (DOI), we want to remind you about ATPE’s DOI resource page available here. View updated information on school districts that are using the DOI law to claim exemptions from various state laws, including school start date provisions, requirements to hire certified teachers, and elementary class-size limits. Each DOI is required to notified the Commissioner of Education of its local innovation plan, although no formal approval by the commissioner is required by law. TEA is also providing a list of those DOIs that have supplied their innovation plans to the agency. Commissioner Mike Morath still has not yet finalized administrative rules for implementation of the DOI law, but 23 school districts have already adopted their innovation plans and filed them with TEA. The DOI law will be among topics discussed at upcoming interim hearings of the Senate Education Committee.

 


Next week, the Senate Education Committee is holding another interim hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 16. The interim study topics for this meeting are school board governance and training; local policies that could achieve better student outcomes, particularly for low-performing schools; pre-kindergarten grants, and raising standards for teacher preparation programs. ATPE will be participating in the meeting and will provide a full report next week.

 


Comic Speech Bubble, Congrats, Vector illustrationTwo ATPE members are among Texas finalists announced for the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). ATPE congratulates Kirk Evans, a teacher at David and Lynda Olson Elementary School in Allen ISD, and Andrea Miller, a teacher at B.J. Smith Elementary School in Mesquite ISD. Evans and Miller both teach fifth-grade science and have been recognized for their achievements in elementary science teaching. View TEA’s press release about the award finalists here.

 

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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Aug. 5, 2016

Read highlights of this week’s education news from the ATPE Governmental Relations team:


On Wednesday of this week, the Senate Education Committee convened for an interim hearing on ideas that might evolve into potential changes to the state’s school finance system. The committee has been tasked with studying an interim charge on “performance-based” funding for public schools, as an alternative to attendance-based funding methods and finance formulas that take into account the instructional needs of students. ATPE Lobbyists Monty Exter and Kate Kuhlmann attended the hearing and provided a blog post about it for Teach the Vote this week. Also check out The Texas Observer‘s coverage of the hearing, which includes a quote from Exter and is linked to the blog post from yesterday. The committee has other upcoming interim hearings scheduled to discuss a variety of topics from innovation districts to technology to school choice. Follow our blog and @TeachtheVote on Twitter for the latest developments as interim hearings continue.

 


ThinkstockPhotos-92037734Voters in San Antonio’s House District 120 have selected a new state representative to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of former Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio) who resigned earlier this year. Laura Thompson, running as independent candidate in the special election, defeated Lou Miller (D) in the August 2 runoff by a reported margin of just 50 votes. Thompson will only hold the post for a short period of time during the interim. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D) won a primary runoff election earlier this year to become the only candidate on the November 2016 general election ballot vying for the seat in a new term that will begin January 2017.

On Saturday, precinct chairs in Harris County will decide who should replace outgoing Rep. Borris Miles (D-Houston) in House District 146. Miles was running for re-election unopposed this fall, but now he has been tapped to replace Sen. Rodney Ellis on the ballot for Senate District 13, which is also an unopposed seat. Ellis is giving up that seat with intent to become a county commissioner, as we’ve reported recently. According to the Harris County Democratic Party, candidates with a verified interest in Miles’s House seat include Erica Lee Carter, Larry Blackmon, Valencia L. Williams, Rashad L. Cave, and Shawn Thierry. We’ll report on the precinct chairs’ decision next week on Teach the Vote.

 


Commissioner of Education Mike Morath released an adopted rule this week for implementation of a 2015 law requiring video surveillance of certain classrooms serving students in special education programs. The final rule as adopted includes some changes made in response to public comments. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter provided details on the revisions in a blog post earlier today.

 


ATPE submitted written input this week to the U.S. Department of Education on its proposed accountability rules implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann reported Tuesday on our blog, our comments raised concerns about the department’s proposed requirement for summative performance ratings of schools. As with the controversial “A-F” accountability labels that the Texas legislature has already mandated that our state’s schools receive, we have trepidation about states assigning overly simplistic summative ratings to schools that may not always reflect the many complex factors that contribute to a school’s overall performance. Read Kate’s blog post for more on ATPE’s recommendations for more holistic approaches to accountability ratings in the federal rules.

 


Kuhlmann SBEC testimony Aug 2016The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) is holding its regular meeting today and welcoming new gubernatorial appointees to the board as we reported last week. Today’s agenda includes proposed changes to disciplinary rules and the Educators’ Code of Ethics to create mandatory minimum sanctions for educators found in possession of, under the influence of, or testing positive for drugs and alcohol on school property. The board is also voting on changes that have been in the works for many months to increase the rigor of educator preparation and ensure that new teachers enter the classroom well-prepared and with the support of experienced mentors and supervisors. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann is testifying at today’s meeting and will provide an update on the board’s actions.

 


Best of luck to all educators and students heading back to school this month! 

Four children waiting in a row outside the school bus

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Final rule for video surveillance of special education classrooms

ThinkstockPhotos-126983249_surveillanceThe Texas Education Agency (TEA) has finalized a Commissioner’s Rule implementing Senate Bill 507 in 19 TAC Chapter 103, Health and Safety, Subchapter DD, Commissioner’s Rules Concerning Video Surveillance of Certain Special Education Settings, §103.1301, Video Surveillance of Certain Special Education Settings. The rule will be published in the August 12, 2016 issue of the Texas Register, and will become effective on August 15, 2016.

As we’ve reported on previously (here, and here, for instance), the 2015 bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) mandated that certain classrooms serving students in special education programs be equipped with video surveillance systems, requiring districts to maintain the video footage on file. The agency worked closely with a diverse stakeholder group, including ATPE, in developing the rule. (Read ATPE’s written comments on the original proposed rule here.)

Stakeholder recommendations resulted in several changes to the regulation, including instances where the rule was made less broad or more specific as to which classrooms and classroom educators will be affected by a request for video surveillance under the new mandate. Examples of these changes were often as simple as changing “a” to “the” in some sentences. For example, in the following section the change of this one word narrowed the scope of the bill from any staff member working in a special education setting to only staff members associated with a classroom where a request for a camera had been made:

§103.1301. (b)(2)
Staff member means a teacher, related service provider, paraprofessional, or educational aide assigned to work in the [a] self-contained classroom or other special education setting. Staff member also includes the principal or an assistant principal of the campus at which the [a] self-contained classroom or other special education setting is located.

The final rule text can be viewed here. The red double underlines in the document represent changes made from the original rule proposal based on public comments received by the agency.

Note: The agency is still waiting for an Attorney General’s opinion related to notice and implementation time-frames that school districts must comply with under the bill.

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Senate committee discusses potential for “performance-based” funding of public schools

ATPE Lobbyists Monty Exter and Kate Kuhlmann provided this report for Teach the Vote.

The Senate education committee met yesterday, Aug. 5, to discuss the following two interim charges that the committee is expected to study and report on prior to the legislature’s reconvening in January:

  • Conduct a comprehensive performance review of all public schools in Texas, examining ways to improve efficiency, productivity, and student academic outcomes. Study performance-based funding mechanisms that allocate dollars based upon achievement versus attendance. Identify any state mandates which hinder student performance, district and campus innovation, and efficiency and productivity overall.
  • Examine the structure and performance of the two remaining county-based school systems, Harris County Department of Education and Dallas County Schools. In particular, study the efficiency of these entities and determine whether those services are duplicative with education service centers or could be absorbed by education service centers.

ATPE attended the hearing with a focus on the first charge and was eager to hear the discussion surrounding how exactly the committee intended to study the idea of “performance-based funding.”  The invited panel of testifiers included representatives from the Equity Center, the Education Resource Group, Knowledge Works, and the Smart Schools Initiative, which we’ve reported on previously and is funded by former Comptroller Susan Combs. The committee and panel members approached the charge with a focus on finding ways to improve “productivity” in Texas public schools.

ThinkstockPhotos-465016790_money“Productivity” is a great-sounding buzz word, particularly in business, and financially incentivizing districts that perform well academically with their given resources sounds useful on the surface; but neither public schools nor school finance can be boiled down this simply. While we haven’t seen a true proposal for a performance-based funding system, we at ATPE are concerned that it could expect low-performing districts to improve while being allocated fewer resources. This is despite the fact that many of these districts are deemed low-performing based on STAAR scores because they are currently under-resourced to serve their higher percentage of harder- and more-expensive-to-teach student populations. We should not be taking resources away from low-performing schools; we should be focusing more available resources in their direction.

Such a system is especially concerning because of the fact that the seemingly agreed upon metric for performance is the increasingly less-trusted state standardized test, STAAR. The idea of basing the state’s school funding formula on the STAAR test only raises the high stakes already associated with the test, when state and federal lawmakers, parents, and stakeholders alike have agreed that such high stakes should be reduced.

There is more to come on how the “performance-based funding” discussion will play out. Stay tuned to the Teach the Vote.

Related content: ATPE’s Monty Exter was quoted in The Texas Observer’s article about yesterday’s hearing.

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Federal Update: ATPE submits comments on ESSA accountability rulemaking

U.S. Dept of Education LogoThe Department of Education (ED) released its proposed rules on the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in May. The public comment period concerning those proposed accountability rules closed yesterday and ATPE was among the nearly 20,000 commenters.

ATPE’s comments focused on a piece of the proposed rules that requires states to assign summative school ratings based on performance under a state’s accountability system. Our comments raised concern over such a summative rating and asserted that “a single label cannot accurately, holistically, or fairly capture the performance of a school and the school children within that school.”

This is a proposal with which ATPE is familiar. Just last year during the 2015 legislative session, we fought lawmakers’ successful attempt to grade schools and districts on an A through F scale. As we were fighting those attempts, other states were backing away from their similar systems, recognizing their shortcomings and stigmatizing effects. We argued at that time that the overly-simplistic rating does not give parents a clearer picture of their child’s school. Rather, it provides a misguided, narrow snapshot that is too strongly based on the increasingly questionable standardized testing system and with no acknowledgement of other very important factors, such as funding inequities, teacher quality, and parental engagement. Further, when a school is labeled a failure the kids within it are also labeled failures, and such a label can be detrimental. The Virginia lawmaker who passed his state’s A through F system ultimately repealed it after seeing the stigmatizing affect it can have on schools.

The same problems exist with ED’s proposed rules requiring a summative accountability rating. ATPE’s comments on the rule request that ED maintain the flexibility provided by Congress under ESSA, which would give states the opportunity to utilize a dashboard or another more holistic approach to providing a picture of a schools success under the state’s accountability system. While recognizing that Texas has already begun down the wrong path toward summative ratings, ATPE asked ED to “not permanently trap Texas’s and other states’ school children into a rating system that inaccurately, incompletely, and unfairly stigmatizes the schools they attend.”

Read ATPE’s full comments to ED here.

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