Task Force Agenda and Methodology
During the initial meeting of the Task Force, the members identified the following four basic tasks that they felt would need to be completed to fully explore the issues:
- A review of all laws, rules, guidelines and instruction manuals concerning TAAS, dropout and PEIMS data collection and submission;
- Open discussions about the issues with representative groups of school district board members, superintendents, administrators and teachers;
- A statewide survey or collection of information from administrators and teachers; and
- Forthright discussions with agency officials who have a direct involvement in administering, collecting and enforcing rules, regulations and laws.
Working with staff from TEA and SBEC, the Comptroller's staff gathered information and systematically presented to the Task Force an overview of all laws, rules, guidelines and instruction manuals on TAAS as well as dropout and PEIMS data collection and submissions.
Each presentation identified areas where specific changes could clarify or strengthen the system. Finally, after the Task Force had thoroughly reviewed the state's data collection and reporting processes, the members analyzed the laws and rules surrounding the enforcement process and their relevancy to the entire process.
After inviting all major education organizations to identify an opportunity for facilitating a roundtable discussion, the Task Force organized roundtable discussions with six groups who had special expertise in the areas under examination. The Task Force obtained the views of individuals from both small and large school districts, as well as representatives from ethnically and geographically diverse groups involved in public education.
To minimize travel expenses, the Task Force held most of the meetings concurrently with conferences or training sessions that were already scheduled. Approximately 250 individuals participated in the six roundtable discussions:1/24/00 Superintendents from the largest 50 school districts - TEA's Mid-Winter Conference
2/25/00 Teachers - Texas Classroom Teachers Association Conference
3/03/00 School board members - Texas Justice Foundation Training
6/16/00 School board members - Texas Association of School Boards Conference
6/26/00 Superintendents/Administrators - Texas Association of School Administrators Conference
7/14/00 Teachers - Association of Texas Professional Educators Leadership Workshop
During each session, representatives of the Task Force asked participants to discuss any perceived weaknesses in the system and identify challenges or obstacles to accurate data collection and reporting that faced them personally or their district in general. (See Appendix A for these comments.)
Based upon the topics addressed at each meeting, the Task Force invited experts to comment. The Texas Education Agency also had representatives present at each meeting. In addition, each meeting was attended by a variety of representatives from the State Board for Educator Certification, the Regional Education Service Centers as well as the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, Senate Education and House Public Education committees and legislative staff. A number of education organizations attended and gave comments including the Texas Business and Education Coalition, the Association of Texas Professional Educators, Texas Federation of Teachers, Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards. In addition to the one-on-one roundtable discussions, the Task Force members obtained teachers' and administrators' views on the adequacy of controls and the procedures prescribed to administer, collect and report PEIMS, dropout and TAAS data to the state. To help in this process, the Comptroller entered into an interlocal agreement with the University of Texas School of Social Work to administer a survey to 5,000 teachers and administrators.
The survey team extracted a stratified sample of names and addresses from the 1999 State Board for Educator Certification database of more than 338,000 names. Surveys were mailed to 4,737 teachers (94 percent of total) and 263 administrators (6 percent of total), a number that is proportionate to the database from which the names were drawn. Of the 5,000 surveys mailed, 1,515 (30 percent) were returned. Of those returned, 91.5 percent were teachers and 8.3 percent were administrators. The survey results were presented to the Task Force at the June 2000 meeting.