House Bill 2804, passed in 2015 by the 84th Texas Legislature, established the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. The commission, appointed by the Governor, has held the first of six meetings that will develop and make recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public school accountability. The commission’s work and presentation to the Governor must be completed no later than September 1, 2016.
In an effort to assist the commission in completing their task of a review of the assessment and accountability system in Texas, the State Board of Education, chaired by Donna Bahorich, is sponsoring a series of Community Conversations around the state. On February 16 and 17, meetings were held in Ft. Worth and Dallas and were attended by educators, parents and community members and local businesses.
The purpose of these meetings was really threefold:
- Discuss the role of assessment and accountability
- Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current system
- Provide input to the Commission on areas to address
Regardless of their involvement as attendees, there was unanimity in a number of areas, including a belief that testing is excessive and not necessarily aligned with the goals of post-secondary readiness. There was a general consensus that testing today is used as a punitive measure and not consistently focused on how testing measures the outcomes themselves, specifically measuring whether students are learning what they are being taught. One statement made that was particularly alarming is that, “when the test is over, nothing further is taught”.
The SBOE will be publishing the output of these discussions with a target date of the end of April. Those of us interested in the direction of the discussion relating to assessments and accountability (and all of us likely are) should closely monitor the discussions, and take time personally to offer input to local legislators as well as members of the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. With the engagement of all stakeholders, we can continue to Make Education a Priority.