The following is the Executive Director’s Message from the spring 2016 issue of INSIGHT, the professional journal of the Texas Association of School Administrators:
The convergence of state and national initiatives to transform the learning environment for America’s schools is evident now more than ever. The continuing work of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium and the national initiative, Education Reimagined, are both contributing to the conversation about transforming education.
During the past year, I have had the opportunity to serve on the advisory committee for Education Reimagined, a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and national spokespersons for this initiative have participated in our Midwinter Conference. Their recommendations focus on five interrelated elements that serve as a “North Star” for innovation. They are: Competency-Based Learning; Personalized, Relevant, and Contextualized Learning; Learner Agency; Socially Embedded Learning; and Open-Walled Learning.
Education Reimagined was conceived by a group of scholars, business leaders, parents, and advocates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and their work is affecting conversations across the nation.
Meanwhile, the High Performance Schools Consortium, facilitated by TASA, has offered a series of proposals to the Texas Commission on Next-Generation Assessments and Accountability as the Commission works on its legislative recommendations.
We have suggested that the Commission should urge the state to seek relief from the mandatory whole population testing requirements for grades 3-8 and 10. The state should show the programmatic efficacy and efficiency of stratified random sampling of Texas children to guide state policy in the same manner as national policy has been guided by the federal government’s NAEP testing program.
Further, we stated that, in a next-generation system, districts are accountable for learning at the student, classroom, school, and district level to the students, parents, and communities they serve.
In a next-generation system, the state is accountable for the establishment of a rigorous accreditation process to ensure educational quality at the district, regional, and state level. The state is accountable to taxpayers and citizens. These recommendations, too, serve as a “North Star” for Texas’ educational transformation.
The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act was a response to the “test and punish” regime of NCLB and gives states discretion to set goals and hold districts accountable. In addition, it enables communities and parents to be involved in important decisions regarding the education of their children and the multiple measures that define success.
The ongoing state and national discussions can and must lead to substantial changes in state and national policy. I believe we are on the road to achieving our goals with a sustained vision — 10 years after the founding of the Public Education Visioning Institute. Thank you for your continuing support.