Austin ISD board passes resolution against state’s A-F accountability system

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At a meeting Dec. 19, the Austin ISD board of trustees unanimously voted to pass a resolution which calls on state legislators to repeal the Texas Education Agency’s A-F accountability system, slated to go into effect at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The resolution’s language included criticisms of the state’s reliance on STAAR, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, assessment scores as a measure of academic performance as well as the lack of data to prove the system’s efficacy.

To date there is no definitive research that suggests these ratings have improved students’ or school performance,” the resolution stated. “Whereas the STAAR provides little meaningful information to guide student learning; and whereas we embrace meaningful accountability that informs students, parents and teachers about the learning needs of each student in school; and whereas our state’s future prosperity relies on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers, and without such a system Texas economic competitiveness and ability to attract new business will falter.”

On Dec. 16, Superintendent Paul Cruz released a letter to the AISD community explaining how schools would be impacted by the new ratings. It was unclear at that point whether the board would pass a resolution calling for the law’s repeal.

Several trustees voiced their disdain for the system at Monday night’s meeting.

“The TEA [Texas Education Agency] hasn’t even developed a lot of these [A-F] standards yet, so nobody knows how these will be determined,” trustee Ann Teich said “Not only is it not a good idea, but nobody knows how it [the system]works and I think that is extremely punitive for our teachers, students and families.”

Trustee Kendall Pace agreed that the law is vague, and its intent needs to be made clear.

“I think it would impress upon the legislator to define the purpose of this,” Pace said. “It feels more punitive than it is supportive.”

Trustee Paul Saldaña said the state should refocus its attention on providing adequate funding for public education.

“If the state of Texas really wants to support our kids in public schools, we should be adequately funded,” he said.

AISD joins several school districts across Texas calling for a repeal of the system, including Dripping Springs ISD on Dec. 12.

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