Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HB 5 – Community and Student Engagement - The Process Defined

As we continue to move toward an August 8 reporting date for Community and Student Engagement, I wanted to pause and reflect on the process and progress we have made in our district.  This has been a significant undertaking to get to where we are today, a process involving a district committee, campus leadership and, as you would expect, community members.  Through this process, our district has utilized a number of third party resources, including our Region ESC (Region 11) and input from other districts that had already defined a set of questions to use as part of their evaluation process.

So, with the caveat that this is simply our district's view and approach, let me briefly describe the process that got us to where we are.  Remember … local control gives us the flexibility to define our own approach and how we will satisfy the requirements of HB 5.

We began by identifying an existing committee, our District Advisory Committee (DAC).  We initially shared with committee members the intent and objectives of House Bill 5, and emphasized the importance of completing a self-assessment based on to-be-defined criteria.  As noted above, there are a number of existing resources we identified, including a spreadsheet and set of questions already defined by the Region 11 ESC.  We also gathered sets of questions adopted by other districts in their evaluation process.  From those, we then took the “best of the best” and added to that list questions specific to our district; again, these additional questions were developed by community members, not the district Administration.

Having completed the initial process of developing a set of questions for each of the eight elements, we have now shared that list (four questions per element) with campus leadership and with our site based decision making teams; this effort was initiated the week of April 4.  Our expectation now is that these teams will complete their evaluation efforts and submit to Administration no later than May 8.  After that, Administration will then aggregate the evaluation feedback and share with the DAC in mid-May.  Assuming that the DAC will then approve the evaluations submitted for each campus, we will be in a position to submit our district’s self-evaluation to TEA, complying with both the intent and time frames defined by HB 5.

This also begs the question of the value of this process.  Most districts already have a process in place to gather and evaluate community input; for those districts, this is largely a way of formalizing a process that is then applied consistently across all districts.  For others, i.e., those who do not have a well-defined process, the Community and Student Engagement element of House Bill 5 provides a framework for developing a process and ensuring community involvement.  Either way, this legislation is a reinforcement of the need for districts to solicit input from, and then act upon the wishes of, the community.

Our hope in providing a series of blogs highlighting the Community and Student Engagement element of House Bill 5 is that we have provided a framework to help guide you through the maze of implementation.  The information presented is an outgrowth of a series of presentations by Bobby Rigues, Aledo ISD trustee and the architect of Make Education a Priority, and myself.  Content for these was developed through a series of discussions with a number of different resources, including Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Chairman of the House Education Committee (and primary sponsor of HB 5), H D Chambers, Superintendent – Alief ISD (who worked closely with Rep. Aycock), representative districts across the State, and TASB Governmental Relations.  We are sincerely grateful for their guidance and support.

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