Burleson ISD school board gives low marks to state's 'A-F' accountbility system
Members of the Burleson ISD board of trustees joined more than 238 school districts across Texas Tuesday night when they passed a resolution urging the Texas Legislature to repeal of the state’s “A-F” accountability rating system that begins with the 2017-18 school year.
An impassioned BISD Superintendent Dr. Bret Jimerson– famously enthusiastic about the matter – made a point of being the one to read the resolution aloud before the vote was taken.
The resolution specifies the various issues educators have with the system – one of them being the discouraging results from a recent survey conducted by the state’s board of education.
“An overwhelming majority of Texans do not want high stakes standardized test scores to serve as the basis of a pubic school rating system,” the superintendent read.
Still reading the resolution aloud, Jimerson added: “We believe our state’s future prosperity relies on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers. Without such a system, Texas’ economic competitiveness and ability to attract new business will falter.”
While at least 16 states have implemented similar rating system, there is no definitive approach this has improved student performances, Jimerson stated.
One important lesson to learn is that the use of high-stakes, standardized tests should be reduced, he said.
According to the district, the indicators on which the new ratings are to be determined were not released to school districts until Dec. 1. As most districts were leaving for the winter break, TEA released to districts the criteria and data tables used to determine the provisional “what if” ratings.
The official provisional ratings were released to school districts on Dec. 30, 2016, and to the public on Jan. 5, 2017.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has stated publicly that the release of the provisional ratings was for informational purposes only and was intended to offer districts a preview of the impact of the new rating system, Jimerson said as he read from the resolution.
However, statements made by state politicians, indicate that the release of provisional ratings may have been a political move to bolster the push for school vouchers.
The school board contends that the proposed rating system utilizing “A through F” grades for schools and districts creates a false impression about students, ignores the unique strengths of each schools, and unfairly reduces each student’s worth to the school’s assigned grade.
So what is needed?
The resolution suggests a community-based accountability system that empowers school districts to design their own internal systems of assessment and accountability.
This system, while meeting general state standards, would allow districts to innovate and customize curriculum and instruction to meet the needs and interests of each student and their communities.
“We believe in the tenets set out in ‘Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (TASA, 2008)’ and our goal is to transform education in Burleson in accordance with these tenets,” the superintendent read from the resolution. “We embrace meaningful accountability that informs students, parents, and teachers about the learning needs of each student and each school.”
The vote took place after school board president Shawn Minor took a formal motion from Pat Worrell and a second from Beverly Volkman Powell.
The passage of the resolution after a roughly 10-minute reading and formal vote, was met with a continued round of applause from the audience at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Meanwhile, in another school matter separate from the meeting, BISD officials released budget audit findings earlier this month for the comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2016.
BISD was given an “unmodified opinion,” which is the highest level of assurance and confidence for financial statements, a news release shows.
Jackie Gonzalez, financial services partner with Weaver and Tidwell, said in the release that the audit was very clean, management was knowledgeable and timely, and there were no findings in internal controls or in compliance.
“The district qualifies as a low risk auditee,” Gonzalez said in the release.
When speaking about the district’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report having less than 10 comments from the Government Finance Officers Association, Gonzalez added “to have less than 10 comments, two years in a row, is remarkable.”