Standardized tests – Houston Chronicle

The sight of little kids bending over their desks and filling in answer bubbles with No. 2 lead pencils has been a staple of the educational experience for so long that these kids have had kids. Few seem to be entirely happy with the role our state plays in the high-stakes testing culture of our public schools, yet this culture seems to have developed a life of its own.

The sight of little kids bending over their desks and filling in answer bubbles with No. 2 lead pencils has been a staple of the educational experience for so long that these kids have had kids. Few seem to be entirely happy with the role our state plays in the high-stakes testing culture of our public schools, yet this culture seems to have developed a life of its own.

That may be changing. In an unusual twist, the State Board of Education recently turned the tables on a system that rates students and teachers and asked the public to rate our state’s testing policies.

The SBOE’s customer satisfaction survey arose after a lengthy grass-roots process and aims to engage people informed by front-line experience in our schools. Although it wasn’t a random survey, it had considerable reach, and its findings lay the groundwork for those seeking to improve our state’s assessment and accountability system.

The discontent of many of the 27,186 people surveyed comes through loud and clear: “Texans believe we have too many tests, schools are spending too much time preparing for the state assessments, and too much class time working on the preparation,” according to , chair of the SBOE who deserves credit for spearheading the survey.

Teachers find our current testing culture demoralizing. Not only would scaling back on the testing culture improve student performance, but most teacher organizations agree that fewer and more meaningful tests and less test preparation time would help attract better candidates to the teaching profession.

Test results aren’t provided at a time when they can be the most helpful. In addition to requiring too many tests and putting too much emphasis on them, the delay between testing and results makes the results less useful. People “want more immediate tests results,” says .

 

State education board plan urgently needs public feedback – Houston Chronicle

 

With runoffs settled, candidates for the State Board of Education have been chosen and now we look forward to the November election. Voters and candidates alike should work hard to see through the smoke produced by inevitable electoral fires between now and November.

The 15-member State Board of Education that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

We are off to a good start, but there is plenty left to do.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers – anyone who would talk to me, actually – about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the face-to-face SBOE Community Conversations completed in March. However, when discussing the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are: “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs.” If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them adequately for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based. The SBOE is contributing to this process by gathering additional community-based feedback online for the commission through June.

In addition, the SBOE hopes to make an even greater impact for our students by updating the Long-Range Plan for Public Education, a duty assigned to the SBOE by law. The last LRP expired in 2006. At the SBOE meeting in April, we approved phase one of a two-phase effort to put an updated plan in place. The LRP will center on arriving at and articulating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that currently exist and that will exist in Texas public education over the next five to seven years. Our LRP will include a considerable effort at partnering with the commissioner of education and gathering policy maker, post-secondary, K12 educator, business community, parent and general public input.

Finally, the SBOE is partnering with the commissioner of education in holding the second in our series of Learning Roundtables. The upcoming September Learning Roundtable will focus on “Educating the Children of Poverty;” 60 percent of our public school students are economically disadvantaged. We will invite national and state experts to discuss the various facets of poverty and how we can find greater success at helping our students overcome the many challenges to receiving the education they each deserve.

If we succeed in our mission to help all children, we raise generations of Texans who can sustain and noueish the economic success we currently enjoy. We alone determine our success and literally cannot afford to fail. Strong debate will occur, as to be expected with the SBOE affecting so many areas certain to bring out strong passion on all sides. However, our board has worked through many issues over the past several years with professionalism and commitment. Our first and foremost focus has been on positively benefitting the education of the 5.2 million children of Texas.

Our good intentions will be matched with the commitment and drive necessary to sustain that momentum. We owe that to students, their families and to Texas. We have the tools to forge a bright future. Let’s put them to work.

July 23, 2016 Comments are off Webmaster
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Letter – Donna to SBOE Regarding Superintendent Salaries

Letter – Donna to SBOE Regarding Superintendent Salaries

Donna Bahorich with Gov. Greg AbbottThe vice chair of the SBOE sent out a recent press release calling for legislative or commissioner action aimed at charter superintendent salaries. As the charter liaison and chair of the Committee on School Initiatives, I am providing a more comprehensive look at the data for consideration.

SBOE vice chair’s original press release

New survey shows widespread discontent with STAAR | www.statesman.com

staar-emblem

The findings are from an online public survey about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and how the state uses the test results to hold students, teachers and school districts accountable. More than 27,000 students, parents, educators, business leaders and others responded to the survey, which State Board of Education Chairwoman spearheaded. The respondents were self-selecting; it was not a random sampling of people.

“Texans believe we have too many tests, schools are spending too much time preparing for the state assessments, and too much class time working on the preparation,” said in the report released this week. “They want more immediate tests results.”

The survey’s findings include:

  • 63 percent favored getting rid of a state test for a national test like the SAT, ACT or the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which is used by several states
  • 87 percent favored students and teachers getting immediate feedback on tests
  • 97 percent want a test that doesn’t have trick questions or developmentally inappropriate questions, many of which critics say are found on the STAAR
  • 80 percent support allowing students to graduate or move on to the next grade even if they fail the test. Fifth and eighth grade students must pass the STAAR to move to the next grade and high school students must pass five STAAR end-of-course exams to graduate.
  • 87 percent favor reducing the role of assessments in teacher evaluations
  • 94 percent want better ways to test students with special needs

7:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 20, 2016 |

 

Bahorich: Keep our focus on the future | www.mystatesman.com

The 15-member (SBOE) that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled across the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers — anyone who would talk to me, actually — about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the SBOE Community Conversations forums, which finished up at the end of March. However, when discussing the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs”. If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them adequately for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based.

In addition, the SBOE hopes to make an even greater impact for our students by updating the Long-Range Plan (LRP) for Public Education, a duty assigned to the SBOE by law. The LRP will center on arriving at and articulating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that currently exist and that will exist in Texas public education over the next five to seven years.

 

SBOE committed to task of helping Texas students – San Antonio Express-News

With runoffs settled, candidates for the have been chosen, and now we look forward to the November election. Voters and candidates alike should work hard to see through the smoke produced by the inevitable electoral fires between now and November.

The 15-member State Board of Education that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chairwoman of the State Board of Education in June, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers — anyone who would talk to me, actually — about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the SBOE Community Conversations, which finished at the end of March. However, when discussing assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback from parents, business leaders and educators are “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs.” If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based. The SBOE is contributing to this process by gathering community-based feedback for the commission.

 

Elections aside, State Board of Education keeps focus on future | The Star-Telegram

Texas_Textbooks[1]

member Thomas Ratliff listens to testimony during a board meeting. Ratliffe did not run for re-election and will leave the board in January.

This 15-member state board that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s children.

Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers — anyone who would talk to me — about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

However, on the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are

 

State education board plan urgently needs public feedback – Houston Chronicle

With runoffs settled, candidates for the have been chosen and now we look forward to the November election. Voters and candidates alike should work hard to see through the smoke produced by inevitable electoral fires between now and November.

The 15-member State Board of Education that I am privileged to lead has been and will remain focused on discharging the responsibility of overseeing the education of the state’s school children. Texas enjoys economic success. To continue that success, the state will need to provide employers with a workforce that can compete in the modern and constantly changing economy.

Since my appointment as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015, I have traveled the state talking to parents, business leaders, administrators, teachers – anyone who would talk to me, actually – about assessments, accountability and the effective delivery of education to the young people who are often the last voices heard in policy discussions.

We are still compiling the public feedback received at the face-to-face SBOE Community Conversations completed in March. However, when discussing the goals of assessments and accountability, the words that stand out in the feedback received from parents, business leaders and educators are: “individual,” “growth,” “learning,” “readiness,” “measure,” “goals” and “needs.” If we can’t figure out a way to understand and meet individual student needs, we won’t be able to prepare them adequately for the future.

It is the goal of the 15-member Next Generation Commission on Assessments and Accountability to make recommendations to the Legislature by Sept. 1. The recommendations will be both research- and community-based. The SBOE is contributing to this process by gathering additional community-based feedback online for the commission through June.

 

Texas will strive to expand broadband access to all students by 2018

Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei (center) discussed the broadband goal Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion with Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and State Board of Education Chair Donna Bahorich.

Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei (center) discussed the broadband goal Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion with Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and Chair .

AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants every one of the state’s 5.2 million schoolchildren to have access to broadband Internet by 2018.

Abbott announced the goal the day before the kickoff of South by Southwest, the 10-day music, film and Internet festival held in Austin. The state will partner with Education Superhighway, a national nonprofit that is working with 38 other states to upgrade infrastructure and find affordable ways to meet the connectivity goals of students and communities.

“My vision and reality is to ensure that Texas is the center of the universe in education innovation all the time, not just during SXSW, and today we’re rolling out part of that,” Abbott said during an announcement at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. “If we don’t do this, there’ll be a growing digital divide in this state that could cause the state to fall behind.”

Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei said an analysis of the state’s broadband Internet needs showed 2 million schoolkids – roughly 46 percent of Texas’ K-12 students — “do not have broadband they need for today’s digital learning needs.”

“21st [century] digital learning is only available to those with high-speed broadband in the classroom,” said Swei. “Unfortunately, too many of Texas’ students are being left on the wrong side of this growing digital divide in K-12.”

 – Dallas News

March 20, 2016 Comments are off Donna Bahorich
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State leading way on computer classes

Texas was the first state to require that all high schools teach computer science, but Arkansas schools catapulted ahead in the past year after a mandate from the governor backed by millions in funding, said state and national advocates.

In Texas, a single state school board member pushed to require high schools to teach the classes. But few schools are following the policy and Texas has put up little if any state money to train teachers.

In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson made computer coding a state priority and pushed a bill to provide funding for teacher training and to mandate that high schools offer the courses. It also requires that the classes count as math or science credits instead of an elective…

Noemy Sotelo (left), a junior at Bryant High School, takes part in an advanced computer programming class last week. “It’s like a puzzle to solve. It’s like a game — really cool, really interesting,” Sotelo said…

By contrast, in Texas, which imposed a similar requirement in 2014, only about a quarter of its school districts offered a single computer-science class in the state’s STEM endorsement, said Jennifer Bergland, director of governmental relations for the Texas Computer Education Association. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)

Donna Bahorich, a Houston Republican who is now chairman of the Texas Board of Education, proposed the rule change requiring the classes as the board was dealing with a broad education overhaul mandated by the Legislature.

The lawmakers’ bill had not proposed requiring computer science to be taught.

“This was it. She basically made this motion and it wasn’t until it was almost all done that I was reading them going, ‘What is this?'” Bergland said. “It wasn’t a big fight. Sometimes you have to fight hard, sometimes things happen because it’s the right thing. This is one of those situations.”

But because the change wasn’t endorsed by the Texas Legislature — and had no money behind it — many Texas districts say they don’t know about the provision or cannot find or train the appropriate teachers, a key holdup.

No other state has required high schools to teach the classes — except Texas — or budgeted as much money as Arkansas’ $5 million, said Amy Hirotaka, director of state government affairs for Code.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and members of minority groups.

“While Texas does have that on the books, it’s not functionally happening,” Hirotaka said…

The Texas Computer Education Association was turned down when it asked the Legislature for $25 million for professional development and a change in how computer-science classes are classified.

In Texas, which has more than nine times the population of Arkansas, that was a nonstarter, Bergland said.

“My computer-science people are excited about what your governor is doing with computer science,” Bergland said. “Texas for years has … kind of been leading in this by most people’s standards, but what I’ve heard is this is an initiative that [Hutchinson] took on and any time you put some money behind something, it sends the message that this is important.”

In January, President Barack Obama proposed spending more nationally on computer-science education. In February, Hutchinson joined a White House news conference to announce a new partnership aimed at promoting computer education nationwide. Officials at that event praised Arkansas’ initiative in pushing the classes.

Money — and the teacher training that comes with it — is especially important to making a statewide initiative work, experts said…

Arkansas’ progress may spur other states to act.

“We do think that Arkansas is a leader in computer-science education and a state that others could certainly model themselves after,” Hirotaka said.

And Texas doesn’t back down from competition, Bergland said.

“We may be trying to catch up to Arkansas,” she said. “Texas kind of thinks we invented everything and we’re best at everything, so we’re going, OK, wait a minute. We can’t let Arkansas, our neighbor, beat us in this.”

Hutchinson said he’s pushing other states to make similar changes…