Longview, TX — The federal rules of the game could be changing for several East Texas schools.
With efforts to reform No Child Left Behind stalled in Congress, the Obama administration said Monday that it was taking steps to override the centerpiece requirement of the school accountability law requiring 100 percent of students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he was taking action because of “universal clamoring” from officials in nearly every state who say they cannot meet requirements of the Bush-era federal education law. He called it a “slow-motion train wreck.”
So Duncan is working on a plan to waive the law’s proficiency requirements for states that have adopted their own testing and accountability programs and are making other strides toward better schools.
East Texas educators welcomed the move.
“State accountability evaluates the grades and content more accurately,” said Carol Greer, spokeswoman for Hallsville ISD. “Also, students who remain in school additional years and work toward a high school diploma are treated as failures in the AYP system; but not so in the state system. In certain cases, one student in one student subgroup may determine whether a district or campus does or does not meet AYP. What business bases all the work of all their employees on the lowest standard of measurement?”
Several East Texas school districts, including Hallsville, suffered a blow last week when Adequate Yearly Progress reports — or AYP — were issued by the federal government. Districts including Longview, Pine Tree, Hallsville and Kilgore, did not meet the federal standards under No Child Left Behind, which calls for them to complete more paperwork and monitoring. The districts were rated at least acceptable, however, on the state accountability measures. Hallsville, in particular, was rated as recognized by the state.
Kilgore ISD Superintendent Jody Clements said that highlights a problem between the federal and state systems.
“You’re going to do really well on one system and not on the other,” Clements said. “We did good on our state tests, but not on AYP — Hallsville, too. The goal of 100 percent passing by 2014 sounded good seven or eight years ago, but I think it’s time to make some changes. We feel like our kids have been successful.”
Texas does have its own testing and accountability measures. The 2010-11 school year saw the end of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and the 2011-12 school year is ushering in a new educational era under the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, which is expected to be a more rigorous exam than TAKS. Texas also measures accountability by rating schools and districts from exemplary to academically unacceptable.
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