In 1999, a handful of Texas public school districts were caught manipulating data on dropout rates and the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS). I have urged the Legislature to adopt recommendations of a special education task force to build a firmer foundation for public school accountability, including making the unauthorized distribution of TAAS tests a Class A misdemeanor.
10 Principles for Texas
in the 21st Century
Develop a better-educated workforce
Direct more of every education dollar into the classroom
Raise the bar on student performance
Cut taxes in Texas
Introduce competition into Texas government
Improve government performance and accountability
Reduce the size of government
Bring common sense to regulations
Use technology to cut costs and increase quality
Return control to communities and individuals
Texas has one of the best and most comprehensive public school accountability systems in the nation; so the manipulations were detected and those responsible were held accountable. The 1999 incidents, however, exposed some weaknesses in the system.
The Texas public school accountability system is based on regular assessments of academic skills and extensive data gathered from schools. The data are used to rate public schools, ranging from exemplary to low performing.
The 1999 incidents represented only a small percentage of the schools in the state, but enough to warrant investigation.
Under the Comptrollers mandated authority to examine state agencies and school districts for effectiveness and efficiency, I created the Public Education Integrity Task Forcea diverse group of exemplary citizen volunteers from the private and public sectors.
After more than a year of study, the task force concluded the accountability system did not fail. But the task force also found significant obstacles to the compilation and reporting of accurate dataincluding unclear laws, rules and regulations surrounding the reporting process. And, the hardware and software used in data reporting is more than 17 years oldthe technological equivalent of a Big Chief Tablet.
Public school accountability is a high stakes system that depends on collecting and reporting accurate data. The task force made a number of recommendations to the Legislature to improve the collecting and reporting of that data.
I am a staunch believer in local control; I am a staunch believer in public education; I am a staunch believer in parents having adequate and accurate information so that they can make the best decisions for their childrens future. For local control to work, school boards, parents, teachers, administrators and other local decision-makers first must have adequate and accurate data.
Public Education Integrity Task Force:
- Barry Thompson, Chair--Chancellor Emeritus, Texas A&M University
- Wilhelmina Delco, Vice-Chair--former member Texas House of Representatives, District 50 and Speaker Pro-Tem
- Roy Barrera , Jr. , Attorney of Counsel, Nicholas & Barrera, P.C. and former Judge, 144th Judicial District Court of Bexar County
- Michael Levy, Founder and Publisher, Texas Monthly
- Thaddeus Lott, Director, Acres Homes Coalition of Schools, Houston ISD
- Jeri Stone, Executive Director, Texas Classroom Teachers Association
- Beatrice Lucio Rodriguez, Principal, Sharp Elementary School, Brownsville ISD
CAROLE KEETON RYLANDER