Truth About Schools (www.truthaboutschools.org) recently posted an article that addresses a key opportunity to measure outcomes in public education. The article, “To Measure What Tests Can’t, Some Schools Turn to Surveys”, found here, touched on the use of surveys as a way to complement the use of test scores and other measures.
What I found truly interesting is the parallel between this article and thoughts recently shared by newly appointed TEA Commissioner Mike Morath with MEaP Advocacy advisor Bobby J Rigues and me relating to the five indices used to evaluate a teacher’s performance. His thought is that up to 15% of the teacher’s performance assessment would be based on student input, so the approach certainly is being discussed. And why shouldn’t student input be a part of the framework for evaluation?
The article highlighted a waiver granted by the Department of Education to nine of the largest school districts in the State of California. Under this waiver, 60% of the evaluation of the districts is tied to traditional academic assessments, with 40% tied to a number of other factors, including absenteeism, suspension and expulsion rates. But they didn’t stop there. They also decided to look at, and survey, four other attributes: growth mindset, self-efficacy, self-management and social awareness. In short they wanted to better understand how the students perceive education and to encourage them to be accountable for their individual learning.
It’s not my intent here to simply report on the article but I believe that those of us involved in advocacy for public education need to seek insights from others on what we must do to practice continuous improvement in our public education system. Asking those who are most impacted, namely the students, is one way to help us Make Education a Priority.
Legislation passed in Texas over the past two legislative sessions has altered the landscape of accountability and how we measure success. Beginning in 2013 with passage of House Bill 5, legislation that first introduced a community engagement element, districts were tasked with defining metrics by which the public that they serve could have input on the activities and direction of the district. HB 2804, passed in the 2015 session, now assigns 10% of the overall accountability rating to the community engagement element. This can only be a positive as we go forward and help set the direction of an individual district based on a strategic plan (if one exists) complemented by giving the community the opportunity to weigh in on the evolution of accountability in their district.