Strategic plan scorecard approved by AISD Board

Austin ISD's board of trustees meets at the Carruth Administration Center on W. Sixth Street in Austin.

Austin ISD's board of trustees meets at the Carruth Administration Center on W. Sixth Street in Austin.

A 2016-17 strategic plan scorecard that will be used to measure the superintendent’s performance was approved by the Austin ISD board of trustees on Monday night.

“This reflects how I look at performance across our district,” Superintendent Paul Cruz said. “It looks at many different indicators of academic performance, sets a target, and sees where we are in relationship with that target.”

The scorecard is divided into four sections outlining the board’s goals, which set targets for literacy, college readiness, closing the achievement gap, and growth in social and emotional learning and literacy skills for younger children.

Some members of the public and the board took issue with the reliance on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test scores to measure achievement. During the public comment portion of the meeting, community member Susan Moffat asked the board to remove the lines which determine the percentage of students reaching post-secondary readiness standards decided by STAAR scores.

“Intended or not, the more emphasis you give to STAAR the more you encourage ‘drill-and-kill’ teaching to the test,” she said. “The tests turn off students to learning–the very students that we most need to keep engaged, and sadly, it turns off families to AISD.”

Trustee Edmund Gordon also voiced his distaste for STAAR testing.

“I’m not a fan of testing, and I don’t think anybody on the board is,” Gordon said. “I believe standardized testing, along with a host of problems, has a racist component to it that I find difficult to accept.”

At the same time, Gordon also acknowledged the necessity of standardized testing as a means to identify when schools are being underserved. He suggested AISD look into alternative testing models.

“Without testing we don’t know where we are,” he said. “We are between a rock and a hard place. We need to think about testing in a fundamentally different kind of way. I think those models are out there and the district should explore that.”

Some parents who spoke at the meeting asked the board to leave the STAAR scores in the scorecard.

Cruz assured the board that although STAAR scores are used to measure performance, he was not supportive of “teach-to-the-test” methods.

A motion was made to approve the strategic plan scorecard with the removal of post-secondary readiness standards as measured by STAAR and to substitute a passing standard for post secondary readiness standard, but the motion failed.

Trustee Julie Cowan explained that as a parent to former AISD students, she would expect her children to achieve the college readiness touted by the district, so she thought the post-secondary standards should remain on the scorecard.

“While this isn’t perfect, I like this stable level,” she said. “Our schools are already promoting themselves as being college prep, so saying students have reached post secondary readiness level fits within the theme of the schools.”

A motion to approve the 2016-17 strategic plan scorecard in its original form passed unanimously.



By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.