Georgetown ISD will seek public input on district-level accountability system

With a new community-based accountability system in the works, Georgetown ISD officials are looking for public input on which values and accomplishments the district should measure.

GISD’s board of trustees voted in February to implement a local accountability system with district-specific standards and methods to monitor progress while still adhering to state regulations.

The concept of a ratings system based on community values can be traced back to 2013, when the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 5, which restructured the state’s educational curriculum, changed graduation requirements and created a local evaluation requirement for the state’s accountability system for districts.

The state’s accountability system is based primarily on scores from the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, exam, spokesperson Suzanne Marchman said. The accountability provision included a variety of indicators, but GISD officials were unsatisfied with the measures provided by the state, as they were still primarily based on standardized testing scores, Marchman said.

“It still didn’t give communities, parents or kids a clear picture of if their students were successful in school,” Marchman said.

GISD officials, like those from districts statewide, began to discuss asking the community what it valued and what it would like to measure to show that the district is succeeding at educating students, she said.

In May, district officials hosted three summits to collect community input on what values and skills community members hope to see from students in the district. Traits such as the ability to overcome adversity, having critical thinking skills, and knowing how to communicate and collaborate were highly rated in community surveys, Marchman said.

“A lot of the things that were offered up were things outside of testing,” Marchman said. “Are they involved in extracurricular or service learning projects? How many students participate in some kind of fine arts program? It wasn’t just about academics or test scores.”

The district is now prioritizing the feedback gathered at the summits, Marchman said. By the end of fall, district officials plan to hold two more summits and give community members an opportunity to share opinions online.

“The world is changing quickly,” Marchman said. “We can’t have a system that prepares kids for our past. As a district, we have to be adaptable and prepare them for whatever lies ahead.”