Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff said he would like to see the state completely abandon the federal No Child Left Behind program.
Ratliff said in 2013 lawmakers reduced the number of tests for high school students but failed in their attempts to do the same for elementary and middle school students out of fear that Texas would lose its federal public education dollars. Ratliff said that money only accounts for less than 10% of the state public education budget.
State teachers gave House leaders their take on the new job assessment pilot program designed by the Texas Education Agency. Teachers criticized the use of student test scores to measure job performance, calling the formula “black magic” with no type of scientific evidence.
As part an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, the TEA designed a program for teacher evaluation in order to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind program. The proposed plan gives student end-of-course exams a 20 percent weight, which is a minimum set by federal education officials.
As per his agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams has submitted a new teacher evaluation model this week that uses student test scores as one of the components for measuring a teacher's success.
The teacher evaluation system is part of the waiver that allowed Texas to opt out of No Child Left Behind. This week Williams released the final draft of that evaluation, an evaluation that counts 20 percent from students' standardized test scores.
Officials with the Texas Education Agency say 8th graders this year will be allowed to use calculator apps on a tablet during the math portion of their State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness end-of-course exam.
While to some it may not seem like a big deal, Debbie Ratcliffe with the TEA says it is, especially considering that no other standardized tests allow the use of apps during testing.
When House Bill 5 passed last year it signaled yet another change in course for public education in Texas. Texas House and Senate members will take another look next Wednesday at the standards they passed last year and how the State Board of Education has implemented them.
In the coming week, lawmakers will begin examining curriculum standards set by the Texas State Board of Education under House Bill 5, a law passed in 2013 that provides more flexibility and pathways for student growth, and there is an effort to add more rigorous courses in math and science.
From its very conception, higher education officials and some within the business community have taken issue with HB 5 because it dropped student requirements for taking courses like Algebra II.
Federal education officials have denied a state waiver that would have eliminated the need to test eighth grade students' math skills more than once -- the denial is related to provisions in House Bill 5 that reduced the overall number of end-of-course exams.
Michael Williams, the Texas education commissioner, said some of the biggest school districts in the state are showing interest in a new state-initiated teacher evaluation program but teacher’s unions fear the pilot program will involve high-stakes test scores.
The debate over vouchers is heating up on the national level with proposed legislation, "The Scholarship for Kids Act of 2014" to give federal dollars to students opting out of public school. School choice is the best way for underserved communities to get a good education, say conservatives pushing this legislation.
According to the Texas Education Agency, nearly a quarter of all high school juniors have fell short of end-of-course graduation requirements -- those numbers were what attorneys led with on day two of the Texas school finance trial.
According to the TEA, over 309,000 students met the necessary requirements and passed a set of end-of-course exams in order to graduate in 2015, which works out to about 76 percent of all Texas high school juniors.