Texas Commissioner of Education Michael L. Williams on Wednesday invited 23 school districts to participate in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium, which will help develop innovative, next-generation learning standards, assessments and accountability systems.

TEA will host the first consortium meeting next month.

“The school districts selected to participate in the consortium are already known for their innovative work and are looked to by many as educational leaders. This exciting project will help the Governor, legislative leaders and the Texas Education Agency craft a sound, well-thought out plan to move all Texas schools to the next performance level,” Williams said.

McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. J.D. Kennedy said, “This collection of school districts will take part in creating an alternative state accountability system that does not over rely on paper and pencil standardized tests to measure the success of Texas public schools.”

“The Consortium will apply for waivers to the Texas Education Agency from the current state accountability system for the 2013-2014 school year,” Dr. Kennedy said.

“The work at hand now is to create alternative measures to assess the performance of the member school districts in the Consortium.This will need to occur before the school districts in the consortium can apply for waivers.” 

The consortium will make recommendations in four key areas:

  1. Digital learning – Engagement of students in digital learning, including the use of electronic textbooks and instructional materials and courses offered through the Texas Virtual School Network;
  2. Learning standards – Standards that a student must master to be successful in a competitive postsecondary environment;
  3. Multiple assessments – Various methods of measuring student progress to keep students, parents and schools  informed, and the actions consortium participants are taking to improve learning; and
  4. Local control – Ways in which reliance on local input and decision-making enable communities and parents to be involved in the important decisions regarding the education of their children.

Districts submitted an application and went through a rigorous selection process to become part of the consortium. To be eligible to participate, a district or charter must have:

  1. Received either national, statewide, or regional public acknowledgement for district-wide or campus-wide excellence in academic performance or innovative practice;
  2. Supplied proof of compliance with TEA audit requirements; and
  3. Met performance ratings requirements – Only districts and campuses that have received Academically Acceptable, Recognized, or Exemplary ratings and open enrollment charter schools that are rated Exemplary in the 2010-2011 state accountability system are eligible.

In selecting the participants, state law required the Commissioner to create a consortium that reflected the state’s diversity in district size and type, as well as student demographics.

Following is an alphabetic list of those selected to participate in the consortium:

  • Anderson-Shiro Consolidated ISD
  • Clear Creek ISD
  • College Station ISD
  • Coppell ISD
  • Duncanville ISD
  • Eanes ISD
  • Glen Rose ISD
  • Guthrie Common
  • Harlingen CISD
  • Highland Park ISD (Dallas County)
  • Irving ISD
  • Klein ISD
  • Lake Travis ISD
  • Lancaster ISD
  • Lewisville ISD
  • McAllen ISD
  • McKinney ISD
  • Northwest ISD
  • Prosper ISD
  • Richardson ISD
  • Roscoe ISD
  • Round Rock ISD
  • White Oak ISD

“When students must pass a minimum of 15 end of course exams in high school and meet a complicated formula to determine qualification for receiving a high school diploma in addition to meeting all course requirements,” said Dr. Kennedy, “the system has definitely become a ‘perversion’ as stated by former Education Commissioner Robert Scott.”

“We believe in accountability. The question is, ‘What best measures accountability in a fair and equitable manner and is the most accurate measure in determining the future success of our students?’” said Dr. Kennedy.

 

About the author: Shane Mauldin is a MISD Communications Specialist.