Topic: Accountability System

AFT President Testifies in Texas Senate on Lessons of Local Evaluation Experiments

AFT President Randi Weingarten presented impromptu testimony in the Texas Senate Education Committee this morning on the important issue of how to improve teacher evaluation. Weingarten commended committee chair Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, for recognizing the need for urgent action on this issue. The AFT leader spoke in response to a substitute version of Shapiro’s SB 4. The...

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Classrooms Under Assault in the Texas Legislature

Texas legislative honchos, with an eye on opinion polls showing strong support for public schools, like to say their goal this session is to “protect the classroom” from the impact of a huge revenue shortfall. But the reality of what they have in store for our schools is something altogether different. The students and teachers who populate Texas classrooms face...

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Standardized Testing Under Fire

HB 500, a bill by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands, would reduce to four from 12 the number of end-of-course tests a student must pass in order to graduate under the new STAAR testing regime for students entering high school in the fall. Among other things, his bill also gives districts discretion to decide how much end-of-course exams...

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Attack on Teacher Contracts, Salaries, Class-Size Limits Advances

HB 400, one of the session’s worst bills for public education and educators, was approved in the House Public Education Committee at 9:30 pm this evening by a six-to-four vote. Among the bill’s many ugly features: HB 400 takes away the current right of term-contract teachers to a hearing before an independent hearing examiner when faced with termination before the...

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Issues on This Week’s Agenda Include How to Evaluate Teachers’ Effectiveness

For years now the fans of standardized testing have tried to sell the Texas legislature on the idea that teachers'  evaluations should depend on their students' test scores. The latest vehicles for this idea are SB 4 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, and HB 1587 by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands. In hearings tomorrow, Texas AFT...

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Hearings Next Week: Bills to Base Evaluations on Standardized-Test Scores

If you think the emphasis on standardized testing in our schools is bad now, just wait and see what happens if the legislature passes SB 4 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, and HB 1587, by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands. Both bills would overhaul the state appraisal system for teachers by focusing individual evaluations on the...

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Taking a Stand for Educational Quality, Employee Safeguards, Innovation

In the Senate Education and House Public Education Committees today Texas AFT's legislative team defended state standards of educational quality and employee safeguards from multiple attacks—while making the case for strong employee involvement and leadership in experiments with innovative practices. Texas AFT testified against a dangerous bill heard in the Senate committee (SB 738) that would allow "alternative methods of...

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Notable Education Bills Get a Hearing in the Texas House

The House Public Education Committee on Tuesday took testimony regarding two important bills that would turn state policy in the right direction on teacher training and standardized testing. HB 135 by Rep. Mike Villarreal, Democrat of San Antonio, would require alternative-certification programs to include at least 15 hours of field experience in which the teacher candidate is in a classroom...

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Notable Bills Filed to Reduce Excessive Emphasis on Standardized Testing

Rep. Scott Hochberg, Democrat of Houston, has filed HB 233 to reduce “the huge amount of time and money that we spend on standardized testing of every student every year.” His bill would exempt fourth-graders from standardized state tests in reading, math, or both if they scored well in those subjects in third grade. It would similarly exempt sixth-graders and...

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History Lesson: School-Finance Expert Questions False Premise of Current Budget Plan

A former education chair in the Texas legislature who worked through some of those earlier budget crises offered an important history lesson and some pointed advice in testimony on the education budget today. Former state Rep. Paul Colbert, speaking as a school-finance expert on behalf of El Paso ISD, said in Senate testimony that the current budget discussion is based...

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How to Measure Educational Success—A Former House Education Leader Speaks Out

Former House Public Education Committee chair Paul Sadler was a pivotal figure from 1993 through 2001 in a whole series of Texas legislative efforts that drove increases in school funding and improvements in state education policy. It’s worth noting what he has to say about some questionable “reform” notions that have gained currency of late. In a keynote address at...

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