A Republican state representative has launched a website that promises "unfiltered conversation on accountability in education."
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock of Killeen, who sits on the House Public Education Committee and co-chairs the Legislature's interim committee on school finance, is attempting to kick-start discussion on what will surely be a hot topic for the 83rd session — how best to evaluate how well schools are educating Texas children.
Furor over standardized testing and its role in accountability began during the last legislative session and has continued to gather momentum ever since. In a January speech to school administrators, outgoing Education Commissioner Robert Scott called for an accountability system that measures "what happens on every single day in the life of a school besides testing day."
The Texas Education Agency is in the midst of developing standards to go along with the new standardized tests that students took this spring. It has drawn criticism from members of the business community in particular for what they view as a lack of leadership on the issue.
The site, RethinkTexas.org, is paid for by Aycock's campaign but, as a disclosure reads, is "not being used for campaign purposes."
"Participants should feel free to speak their minds on the issues presented here," it says. "This is your chance to speak before concerned members of the education community."
To get the conversation started, Aycock throws out his own suggestion:
I propose that a different matrix be developed for various types of schools. A different matrix could be used for elementary, middle, high schools and districts. The objective should be to assess more than just test results by moving from the one word ranking – “acceptable”, “recognized”, etc., to a three letter system – “AAA”, “DBC”, etc. I propose that the first letter continue the emphasis on objective test results. The second letter could provide a rating based on financial matters – efficiency, transparency, financial soundness, etc. The third letter could reflect what I’ll call “involvement and success” parameters. Parental and community involvement, student participation in UIL, college credit and A.P. success, graduation rates, career/technical preparation and remediation rates could all be factors for the third letter.