Fort Bend ISD schools test new community-based accountability system in 2019-20

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Six Fort Bend ISD schools will pilot a community-based accountability system in the 2019-20 school year with the goal of developing a new way to assess student performance and growth.

In 2018, FBISD joined 43 Texas school districts to partner with the Texas Public Accountability Consortium.

Together, they are creating an accountability action plan that FBISD officials said will measure performance better than the Texas Education Agency’s A-F accountability system, which is partially based on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test results.

TEA’s letter grade system started in the 2017-18 school year. In August, the agency released 2018-19 grades for campuses and districts. It was the first time all individual campuses were rated A-F.

“School ratings are based on one test given a single time of the year,” said Stephanie Williams, FBISD executive director of teaching and learning, during a June district board of trustees meeting. “We know we cannot measure that on a single test.”

The six schools piloting the community-based accountability system, or CBAS, include Quail Valley, Thornton and Dulles middle schools; Hightower High School; and Mission West and Colony Meadows elementary schools. School principals volunteered to pilot the program.

The goal is a standard of assessing student development, officials said.

John Tanner, owner of Test Sense, is working with the Texas Association of School Administrators on CBAS. San Antonio-based Test Sense specializes in education accountability packages.

“We are working nonstop to build a better mouse trap,” Tanner said. “Fort Bend ISD joined a year ago and has done a lot of work to think through what CBAS would look like.”

The new accountability system will show which campus improvement processes are effective and which are not, he said.

At the base of CBAS are seven pillars involving learning, readiness, engagement, operations and safety. Questions aligned with the pillars and communication tools, such as signaling charts, will be used to monitor progress.

“When we approach legislators and say this is a better system, we want to have a standard by which all districts will be accountable,” Williams said.

The district’s Executive Director of Accountability Audra Ude will lead the pilot for FBISD. In the first year, campuses will work on two pillars in addition to preparing for the STAAR test. In the second year, they will work on all seven of the pillars, she said.

Instead of just relying on the STAAR test to measure accountability, the district sees the benefit of CBAS as following its vision around ownership of learning and developing students who exhibit traits of a “Profile of a Graduate,” Williams said.

“We have to transform the way we look at accountability, our beliefs and our practices so students can achieve the futures they deserve,” she said.

FBISD’s timeline includes continuously adding campuses through the 2023-24 school year, Ude said.

The community will also be involved in the process, she said.

“We want to expose the community to what community-based accountability is and gain buy-in for this versus the state accountability,” Ude said.

The district plans to report on the outcome of the pilot schools next year.

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Christine Hall
Christine Hall joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2018, and covers Missouri City and Fort Bend ISD. She previously reported on health care innovation for the Texas Medical Center, was a freelancer, and held various news roles at the Houston Business Journal.
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