Topic: Accountability System

Higher-Ed Accountability—Doing to Higher Ed What They’ve Done to K-12?

Some of the same folks who have helped make K-12 accountability in Texas so excessively dependent on simplistic metrics of achievement are looking to do a similar disservice to our state’s institutions of higher education. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, for example, an Austin-based right-wing think tank, has been pushing an approach to “productivity” in higher education—embraced by Gov. Rick...

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NCLB Waivers: Missed Opportunity

President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Friday morning rolled out a new program of waivers that would allow states and school districts to sidestep some of the much-criticized mandates of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (the Bush-era version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). But the waiver offer comes with new strings attached—conditions...

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SBOE Member Criticizes Excessive Testing

Thomas Ratliff, a Republican State Board of Education member from Mount Pleasant, is getting media attention statewide with a new opinion piece attacking excessive standardized testing. His comments are worth quoting: “Did you know that this year our public schools will spend almost one out of every five days conducting tests for the state of Texas? Yes, that’s right.  An...

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Topics the Legislature Should Address in Interim Studies Before Next Session

One of the powers of the Speaker of the House and the lieutenant governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, is to direct committees of their respective chambers to conduct interim studies of particular topics. They generally make at least a show of consulting their committee chairs and members in the process of coming up with the so-called interim “charges”...

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How to Measure Productivity in Texas Public Education?

At the meetings of the National Conference of State Legislatures in San Antonio this week, lawmakers from around the country heard a learned presentation from  education-finance professor James Guthrie of the Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University, purporting to show how the state is not getting its money’s worth from  Texas public schools. Defining productivity in terms of the ratio...

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U.S. Dep’t of Ed Offers to Ease “Adequate Yearly Progress” Mandate-But There’s a Catch

Critics of the federal No Child Left Behind Act from all across the political spectrum are fed up with the law's pie-in-the-sky "Adequate Yearly Progress" (AYP) standard, which mandates that 100 percent of students at every school in every state must pass state achievement tests by 2014. The American Federation of Teachers has framed a couple of the most common...

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2011 “Adequate Yearly Progress” Ratings: Failure by Design

According to new ratings of Texas public schools that came  out Thursday, under federal standards the percentage of Texas campuses making “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP, dropped from 86 percent in 2010 to just 66 percent this year. “Two things stand out about these abysmal 2011 federal ratings of Texas schools,” said Linda Bridges, president of Texas AFT. “First, there’s...

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A Message You’ll Want to Hear in Support of Teachers

One of the prominent speakers at last weekend’s Save Our Schools rally across from the White House was the son of a teacher and a product of public schools who has gone on to become a highly successful film actor and screenwriter. He took a red-eye flight across the country last Friday night from the site of his current movie...

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More Gleanings from State Accountability Ratings: Online Charter Schools Fare Poorly

Many of the key players on education issues in the Texas legislature appear to be sold on the merits of online education for elementary and secondary students. Barely a month ago they pushed through changes in state law that put funding for so-called “virtual schools” on a firmer footing, entitling them to share in the formula funding distributed to school...

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Texas Charter Schools Lag Traditional Public Schools in 2011 Accountability Ratings

Texas AFT is appropriately skeptical about the usefulness of state accountability ratings as the measure, by themselves, of what our schools actually accomplish. But the data compiled do allow for a comparison of the ratings assigned to charter schools versus traditional public schools. As in years past, a far higher percentage of charter schools received an "academically unacceptable" rating in...

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A Challenge to Testing Orthodoxy

On July 30 thousands of teachers, parents, and community allies marched on the White House to rally support for a challenge to the current excessive emphasis on standardized testing in our public schools. Participants came from all across the country to lend their voices to the call for change. They represented the rising resistance of millions of Americans not only...

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New School Accountability Ratings: Still Viewing Schools Through a Distorting Lens

The Texas Education Agency on Friday afternoon issued 2011 accountability ratings for school districts and campuses that show a sharp drop in the number of campuses rated exemplary and a sharp increase in the number of campuses rated academically unacceptable. The number of exemplary campuses dropped more than half, from 2,637 in 2010 to 1,224 in 2011 (a decline from...

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