Waco ISD to be part of local pilot academic accountability system

Posted at 2:51 PM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:18-04

Waco ISD will be one of the 20 districts participating in a local academic accountability system pilot next school year. 

Test scores from the standardized tests known as State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) will still play a significant role in the rating assigned to each campus. The local academic accountability system will serve as another indicator used to evaluate the performance of each school. The Texas Education Agency still has to determine the impact of the system on the overall rating of each school. 

"Standardized tests have become almost the entire major of whether or not students are succeeding. There's nothing inherently wrong with a standardized test but it's one data point," Waco ISD Executive Director of Communications Kyle DeBeer said. "What the local state accountability system has the potential to do is to get a better, more well-rounded picture of what's happening on our campuses."

Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum Scott McClanahan said the state accountability often focuses on measures that are common for students in the state. He added it doesn't take into account each campus may be trying to improve in different areas.

"It allows our campuses to focus on our kids, and come up with a part of the accountability that they can really hold themselves responsible for, then it will improve the lives of all those students,"

According to Waco ISD, extra-curricular activities, fine arts programs, student engagement, CTE courses and 21st-century learning could be some of the potential areas of focus of the system. 

Participant districts are required to attend four meetings the Texas Education Agency is hosting in the spring and submit a plan. 

University High School, Waco High School, Tennyson Middle School, Bell's Hill Elementary, Hillcrest PDS Magnet, Kendrick Elementary and Mountainview Elementary are the seven campuses participating in the pilot program. Five campuses that could be shut down if students don't improve test scores next year, will not be part of the program.

According to the TEA, 50 districts applied to be part of it but only 20 were selected.  

Both McClanahan and DeBeer have high hopes for the program.

"This is an opportunity to make sure that some of the decisions about accountability are made in Waco by our community as well, and that the accountability system doesn't only reflect the priorities of legislators," DeBeer said.

In the school year 2018- 2019, all districts will be allowed to use a local accountability program. 

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