Texas Students Are Counting on Us: Maintain the Integrity of our Accountability System

Texas Students Are Counting on Us: Maintain the Integrity of our Accountability System

Why Business Cares
Texas businesses rely on a skilled workforce to grow their company and, as a result, grow the economy of our state. Unfortunately, our state’s job creators are not finding an adequate skilled workforce, a sobering fact that will eventually drag down our now vibrant economy.
That’s why Texas businesses care about quality, accountability and outcomes in education for our youngest students on through their successful graduation from high school prepared for college or careers.
Progress made; promises kept.
Since Texas first established an accountability system in 1993, we have made great strides to improve public education and ensure our schools produce graduates who are post‐secondary ready for college or the workforce. The promise of an education system that delivers high‐quality, measurable success and strong outcomes is within reach.
Among African American and Hispanic students academic gains are especially profound.
• In math, for example, minorities are three grade levels above where they were prior to the introduction of accountability.
• Hispanics are making gains at a significantly higher rate than their white student counterparts.
There’s still much work to be done.
Texas students are counting on us, and they need state leadership, now more than ever.

The Texas workforce between the ages of 55‐64 years old is at the top of global educational attainment levels. For the younger generation, it’s a different story. Our state’s workforce between the ages 25‐34 years old is ranked 24th in the world for educational attainment. And, only 20 percent of Texas 8th graders go on to complete and receive any post secondary credential.

For those students who go on to post‐secondary education, 51 percent who enter community college need remediation. We are not headed in the right direction.
Post‐secondary readiness must remain the organizing principle of the Texas public education accountability system.

Core pillars of reform (HB 3) are fundamentally sound.
• Texas must ensure teaching in high school clearly and rigorously reflects what our students need to know to succeed.
• The state must keep virtually the entire End of Course exam offerings that have been created to drive teaching and learning of the new state standards.
• Students between 3‐8 grades and those in high school must be measured annually in order to preserve accountability and ensure they are learning to state standards while growing toward proficiency of those standards.

Focus on improvement, not abandonment.
Our organizations – The Texas Association of Business (TAB), the Texas Institute for Education Reform (TIER) and the Texas Business Leadership Council (TBLC) – have come together to focus on improvement, not abandonment of our state’s accountability system.

We have developed a substantive and specific approach that finds common ground and offers flexibility while ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of our state’s accountability system.Key tenets of our plan, that can be accessed online at www.txbiz.org, are:

• We support giving districts flexibility on the use of End of Course exams in grading.
• We support a reasonable reduction in the number of EOCs required to pass in order to graduate and agree that the end of course exams for world geography and world history could be eliminated.
• We support the creation of an extended, three‐year transition period for full implementation of EOCs in our schools.
• We support greater flexibility in courses that students may take recognizing the diverse and quality post‐secondary paths a student may choose to take.
• We support an accountability system that removes the complexities that bedeviled educators while continuing to ensure ratings for schools, consequences for educators and schools, and options for parents.

We are deeply committed to the progress and promise of accountability, including the core pillars of reform in HB 3. Our position today reflects one of sincere compromise and common ground. We strive to preserve the integrity, rigor and quality of a high school curriculum that maintains the integrity of postsecondary readiness as the organizing principle while also delivering strong accountability and better outcomes for students and the businesses that build a workforce.