Yesterday, myself and several others participated in a webinar hosted by our Education Service Center. The webinar focused on the proposed new accountability system for the state. At this time, the new system is still just a proposal. Even so, I believe that it warrants some discussion so that there will be no surprises in the future.
The new proposed system is built around four Performance Indexes: Student Achievement, Student Progress, Closing Performance Gaps, and Postsecondary Readiness. While some of the indicators will be phased in over a two year period, most are proposed to be in place immediately.
In the Student Achievement Index, districts and campuses will receive scores based on the percent of students that met the Level II standard on the STAAR tests. This score will be based on how all student perform on the STAAR test in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. There will also be a score given on the participation rate by race and ethnicity.
The proposed Student Progress Index will be a weighted index. Districts and campuses will receive one point for students that Met Expectations based on scale scores from one year to the next. Two points will be awarded for students that Exceeded Expectations based on their scale scores.
The Closing Performance Gaps Index will focus on the students that are economically disadvantaged and the two lowest performing race/ethnicity student groups on the campus or district. Points will be awarded for students in these groups that score at the satisfactory level (Level II) and at the advanced level (Level III). These scores will be based on the students performance on the STAAR test.
For the Postsecondary Readiness Index, campuses and districts will be evaluated based on the percent of students that meet the STAAR Level II performance criteria, the graduation rate for the campus/district, and the percent of students that graduate under the Recommended Program or other advanced program.
The proposed system would give an overall score in each of the four categories. That score could be compared with the region or state average.
While the new proposed system would solve some of the issues that plague the current accountability system, in reading articles from around the state, there is a perception that Texas is moving away from a system that depends so heavily on standardized testing. After hearing about the proposed system, I do not see this to be the case. There are four indexes in the new system. Each of the indexes is tied to student performance on the STAAR test. While there are several bills currently in debate about decreasing the number of tests that students are required to take, this new proposed accountability system is still very heavily dependent on student performance on STAAR testing. In fact, four out of the four indexes rely on some form of STAAR performance data. That means that 100% of the the proposed accountability system will rely on some portion of STAAR testing. Right now, my initial reaction is that we are going to see even more emphasis on student performance on standardized tests, not less.
Providing an accurate picture of accountability is important for parents, students, taxpayers, and educators. Developing an accountability system that provides all of these groups with the necessary information is a difficult task. My main point in sharing this information is to provide everyone involved with an overview of the proposed accountability system so that there will be no surprises in the future.