In Part One, we shared a perspective and belief that, while many districts believe that they can only offer the Multidisciplinary endorsement initially, there are ways to address this in a manner that may yield opportunities to offer additional endorsements.
Allow me to offer an editorial comment here. Having just returned from the TASB-sponsored Winter Governance training, we are encouraged by the progress that many districts are making in considering how they can go about expanding the opportunities, i.e., endorsements, for their students. As with any new opportunity, there were some who saw the requirements of HB 5 as being more of an impediment than an opportunity. Remember, the introduction of the concept of endorsements is not intended to place a burden on districts. It is, like all else contained in this 111 page landmark legislation, designed to focus on ensuring student success.
So where do we begin? Regardless of a District’s size, this is fundamentally a shift from the way that we have always looked at curriculum design, giving greater flexibility and local control to districts to define those endorsements best suited to the needs of their students, their district, and the community at large.
The starting point is clearly a review of existing courses and curriculum in the District. Are the requirements of each endorsement unique, or is the issue one of repackaging courses and programs already offered? Once you have conducted an initial assessment of your offerings, try to group them under the endorsements. Be open minded and objective as you go through this process. While you may not find an exact match for all courses, we believe strongly that there will be a close alignment in many cases that will yield positive results for you.
At the same time, there will be gaps in the ability to provide courses to fulfill a particular endorsement. And that is where opportunity again presents itself. Identify and seek out relationships with neighboring districts who have the ability to offer courses you may not. Work with them to establish an ability for your students to participate in courses they offer, whether remotely or in person. For example, a superintendent in a 2A district outside of Waco told us of his plans to partner with two districts in the Waco area to offer additional career and technology options to the students in his district.
Or consider partnering with a local college or university to deliver the courses required to fill out an endorsement. Another central Texas district intends to partner with Temple College to provide certain of the Arts & Humanities required courses. Yet another district is working with the local business community to understand their local staffing needs, and to cooperatively develop and deliver certain courses that meet these companies' needs. And, finally, we learned of a business/district partnership where the company will actually host and teach courses, with the expense borne by the business partner.
There truly are a myriad of ways for districts to increase the endorsement offerings for their students. More than anything, what it requires is a desire to do so and a creative (and open minded) approach to developing partnerships that benefit both the partner and the district.
Remember, HB offered encouragement to districts to strive to EXCEED the minimum statutory requirements of law. It falls squarely on the shoulders of the administration and Board of Trustees to ensure that students are afforded the greatest opportunity to succeed. Endorsements represent that opportunity!