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

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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

What Should Replace the STAAR Test? – Statesman.com

For many Texans, the state’s current standardized test – the STAAR – represents everything that is wrong with public education. The annual assessments for grades 3 through 12 have been blamed for everything from killing teacher innovation in the classroom to creating unnecessary stress for students while failing to produce more prepared graduates.

So, Chairwoman Donna Bahorich is correct to restart the state’s conversation with a series of public forums to help shape what the next phase of accountability testing should look like. Bahorich is gathering public input for the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability, created by the Texas Legislature last session to help determine the state’s next steps in school accountability.

As reported by American-’s Julie Chang last weekend, the ideas from advocates and parents are wide-ranging, including winnowing down state standards that drive the current test, removing the requirement that students pass to graduate, the addition of online testing, and replacing high school student’s end-of-course exams with the ACT or SAT.

But before choosing a new testing regime, educators, policymakers, business leaders and parents need to figure out what exactly the state is testing for. After all, inappropriate use of a single test is what got public education into this accountability mess in the first place.

Are we checking to make sure that an individual student makes progress so they will be ready to enter the workforce or college upon graduation? Are we trying to make sure that parents know which schools are meeting state standards? Are we looking to weed out teachers who do not cover the state’s required curriculum? Are we double-checking that students have mastered specific skills and are getting early intervention if they are not?

For many Texans, the state’s current standardized test – the STAAR – represents everything that is wrong with public education. The annual assessments for grades 3 through 12 have been blamed for everything from killing teacher innovation in the classroom to creating unnecessary stress for students while failing to produce more prepared graduates.

 

Q&A: New State Board of Education chair Donna Bahorich on her homeschool background, vouchers and Jim Crow | Dallas Morning News

July 25, 2015

Newly appointed chair Donna Bahorich understands why some doubt that a home-schooling mom has the right background and empathy to set the curriculum and textbook standards for 5.2 million Texas public school students. Still, the Houston Republican and longtime associate of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asks that you not hold her background and personal choices against her. She says she’s a consensus-builder who supports public schools and parental choice…

…You have to look back at the circumstances at the time. My oldest son, Mark, was starting his kindergarten year and we moved in November to another state, so it didn’t seem like the right choice for me to put him in a school, move to another state, put him in the middle of the semester in another school. So I thought, well, I would just do kindergarten and felt pretty comfortable that I could handle it. I soon discovered that I really enjoyed being the teacher, even with as much work as it was. I loved opening those doors and turning on those lights in his head. It was a tremendous amount of work, but it is something that I think back on and it was fun. And I just kept doing it. It just rolled from one year to the next and I enjoyed it.

I’m in favor of education, not any particular form of education. I am in favor of whatever works for families, and having options is a good thing. My experience with having to look at lesson plans, do curriculum gives me a pretty good feel for the kinds of things teachers do day-to-day. Teaching takes a lot of diligence and a whole lot of work, and I definitely got a sense of that, having worked with three different children on three different levels for 13 years. I didn’t have 25 kids to teach, but I have a sense of the challenges. Eighty-eight percent of the students in the country are publicly educated. You need to care, because they will determine the future of Texas and the country.

I got to do exciting, hands-on things with my kids — field trips, plays, re-enacting history. It is the excitement of teaching that I would like to see more of in our classrooms. We’ve been covered up with bureaucracy and mandates, though. I’d like to see a lot more flexibility in the classroom for teachers to have the opportunity to bring that excitement on the creative side.

Senate Bill 313 [The bill directed the State Board of Education to examine the statewide curriculum standards] was vetoed. It had directions to the state board to reduce the scope of the content of the standards to allow more time in classrooms. I think the entire board is behind a culling of the standards. You keep hearing “miles-wide, inches-deep.” We want to reduce the mileage a bit. I would like to see us go ahead and fulfill this legislative intent…

…I would ask people to have an open mind about me. I am a very hardworking person. I believe to compete globally and keep our economic edge, our students must be prepared. I’m 110 percent committed to that goal. I don’t know any better mission than that.

 

Bahorich: Controversy on textbooks is a “teachable moment” | www.mystatesman.com

Posted: 11:10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9, 2015

Too often, we dismiss our schoolchildren as aloof, with eyes too buried in their text messages to see the world around them. But our kids are smarter than most of us realize — and they prove it to me every day.

Ninth-grader Coby Burren of Pearland is one of those kids. He noticed a caption on an illustration in a world geography textbook published by McGraw-Hill that declared that slave traders brought “workers” to U.S. shores in the 18th and 19th centuries. That poor choice of words resulted in an uproar on social media – and rightfully so.

There is a rush to find villains in this story, but we should instead focus on the hero. That’s because lost in the stampede to comment on this egregious error is a lesson that a ninth-grader taught all of us: words matter, and being honest about a shameful part of our history matters.

This is an opportunity to focus on the affront to morality that slavery was and is — and the pain that is its disgraceful legacy. That should be our takeaway. Instead, many are only too eager to promote a false narrative that calls into question our adopted textbooks as unreliable in telling the complete story, warts and all.

While our state standards are a frequent target, the American-Statesman took the time and effort to tell the whole story. A reporter who thoroughly reviewed Civil War coverage in the state’s new history textbooks also reached out to scholars, who concluded that the criticism of those textbooks is overblown. “Ballyhooed Texas textbooks don’t whitewash Civil War, scholars say,” the newspaper headline declared. Even the book containing the false caption has numerous other citations with detailed — and brutally honest — depictions of slavery in several other chapters…

…In the end, this story is about how we don’t have to just accept something that’s wrong. Even a high school freshman can make a difference and make a bad situation right, just as Coby Burren did. We just need to be more committed to making progress than to making a point. After all, the reason we study history is to make the future better than the past.