Topic: TEA

Furor Over Testing Excesses Shows No Letup

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott has kept the pot boiling this week on the issue of standardized testing and its excesses. Echoing remarks he made last week at the State Board of Education, the commissioner yesterday told a gathering of superintendents in Austin that the current testing system is a “perversion” of the original ideas behind the state’s accountability...

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Class-Size Waivers Proliferate

A year ago, Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott promised superintendents more “flexibility” when it comes to waivers of the 22-to-1 pupil-teacher cap in grades K-4. Thanks to stout resistance from educators and parents, legislators rebuffed superintendents and school boards clamoring for more waiver authority last spring. But Commissioner Scott kept his promise anyway, using his administrative authority to grant...

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Testing Excesses in Focus at State Board of Education

The mounting tide of discontent over excessive testing in the state’s public schools made its way into the State Board of Education meeting room today, as Commissioner of Education Robert Scott addressed SBOE members’ concerns about the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. Board members asked the commissioner about the particularly controversial requirement that new STAAR end-of-course exams,...

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Rising Discontent With Over-Reliance on Standardized Testing

Today’s hearing of the Texas House Public Education Committee showcased a rising tide of discontent in Texas with standardized testing. The message came from parents, teachers, principals, superintendents—all agreed something is badly awry. And their critique of standardized testing was not confined to the narrow issue of end-of-course tests as a factor in students’ grades. On that particular issue, by...

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Financial-Exigency Rule Draws 570-Plus Comments Backing Texas AFT Stance

Yesterday was the deadline for comments on the new minimum standards proposed by the commissioner of education for declaring financial exigency. A school district, by declaring such a financial emergency and citing it as the basis for terminations, can break its contractual commitment to teachers and other educators, fire them in the middle of the contractual term, and set aside...

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Defend Your Contract Rights: Today is Last Chance to Speak Out on Proposed State Standards for “Financial Exigency” Terminations

Take Action! You have one last chance today to speak out in defense of your contract rights as the commissioner of education prepares to set minimum standards for the declaration of a financial emergency (“exigency”) allowing school districts to terminate educators’ employment contracts. SB 8, as passed last year after a six-month legislative battle, gave school districts a trump card...

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Time to Comment on “Financial Exigency”: How It’s Defined Will Affect Your Contract

Take Action! SB 8 as passed by the legislature last year gave school districts a trump card they can play to override important due-process safeguards for teachers and other educators employed under term, continuing, or probationary contracts. That trump card is called a “declaration of financial exigency”—an assertion that insufficient financial resources exist to meet the district’s contractual obligations, thereby...

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Commissioner’s Emergency Rule on “Financial Exigency”

Under legislation--Senate Bill 8--passed in June, Texas lawmakers granted school districts new “flexibility” to downgrade due-process rights of employees. For instance, in case of a “financial exigency,” a school district may terminate employee contracts in the middle of the school year as part of a reduction in force. Based on “financial exigency,” a district under SB 8 no longer has...

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State Board of Education Notes—Testing, Testing

The State Board of Education meetings in Austin last week featured a noteworthy discussion relating to the new testing regime for state accountability, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).  Board member Thomas Ratliff, Republican of Mount Pleasant, aired a proposal to restore some local control over the weight given in grading to state-mandated end-of-course exams, which are...

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Enrollment Trends in Texas Public Schools

An October 2011 report by the Texas Education Agency on trends in school enrollment points up the rapid rise in the number of students in our state’s public schools--and the rapidly rising percentages of economically disadvantaged students among them. Over the ten-year period from school year 2000-01 to school year 2010-11, enrollment grew by 862,184 students, or 21.2 percent.  At...

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STAAR Testing Regime Begins to Replace TAKS—Questions and Answers from TEA

Despite making deep cuts in state funding for public education, totaling more than $5.4 billion over the next two years (or more than $500 per pupil), the folks in the driver’s seat at the state capitol adamantly insisted on pressing forward with a “new, improved” system of standardized testing. The aim of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness...

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Impact of State Budget Cuts—Class Sizes Ballooning, Local Tax Rates Headed Back to the Max; Help Us Tell the Story by Filling Out Our Survey

While the legislative perpetrators of $5.4 billion in state budget cuts for Texas public education try to sell the myth that there were no cuts at all enacted this year, the reality of those cuts is hitting home in school districts and classrooms across Texas. In grades K-4, state class-size limits of 22 pupils per teacher in each classroom have...

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