Saturday, March 15, 2014

HB 5 and Community Engagement - What Next?

We have talked at length about the requirements under House Bill 5 relating to Curriculum.  Given the fact that there is a deadline associated with the Community and Student Engagement part of the legislation, we decided to refocus our message on that topic.  We will get back to discussions surrounding both Curriculum and Assessment in the near term.

So what are the requirements relating to Community and Student Engagement?  While a small part of the text in the bill (only about 2 pages of a 111 page bill), this area represents both a significant requirement and a responsibility to engage all stakeholders, including business partners and students. 

But part of the challenge is that HB 5 does not provide a prescriptive “how to” relating to actions that you as trustees must take in this area.  The text of the bill relating to community and student engagement can be found at:

Specifically, the key points included in a new Section 39.0545 of the Texas Education Code include:
-          - School districts must evaluate the performance of each campus as well as the District.
-          - Based on this assessment, the District must assign a rating of exemplary, recognized, acceptable or not acceptable to each campus.
-          - The rating reflects overall performance as well as performance for individual factors, including:
o   Fine arts
o   Wellness and physical education
o   Community and parental involvement
o   21st Century Workforce Development program
o   Second language acquisition program
o   Digital learning environment
o   Dropout prevention strategies
o   Educational programs for gifted and talented students
-          - The ratings must be submitted by August 8 each year, effective August 8, 2014.
-          - In addition, each District must report on compliance with the statutory reporting requirements.

Further, Section 46 of HB 5 establishes a requirement that the criteria for evaluating the performance against each of the above factors is to be defined by a local committee … not TEA, not the SBOE (italics added by the author). 

But that’s it!  Nothing further defined.  And that’s what local control is all about.  So, if you have not already moved forward with designating a committee to analyze and provide this input for your District, the time to act is NOW!  You may choose to create a new committee or appoint existing committee members to undertake this effort.  It is up to you.

Over the past couple of months, we have had discussions with superintendents and with region service centers in an effort to better understand how to report this information.  Not surprisingly, there is no consensus.  You may want to contact your local ESC to see if they have developed a template for inputting the factors and evaluation for each.  For example, we know that Region XI has developed a template that is being used by many districts in our region.  But you are not bound to use what they can offer; again, local control suggests that this is a decision you make.

With the August 8 deadline, there is little time for delay.  Talk with fellow trustees in other districts; talk with your ESC.  But, most importantly, start the dialog now.  Your community and your students deserve a highly focused effort to comply with Section 46 of HB 5; it’s up to us to meet their expectations!

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