Thursday, April 4, 2013

Texas May Suspend School Performance & Accountability Reports

A bill coming to a floor vote in the Texas Senate would suspend public schools' requirements to file school performance, progress, and accreditation reports for the 2012-13 school year.

SB 1109, if passed, will suspend accountability reporting, as well as other vital reports. In addition, it will suspend sanctions and interventions on schools that are improperly reporting information or failing to perform to state standards.

With allegations of corruptions and fraud resulting in indictments in places such as Fulton County, Georgia, Texas education accountability and reporting  bills bring some sighs of relief to parents and taxpayers. But, SB 1109 seems to cast a legislated smoke-screen to obfuscate important data regarding school performance.

SECTION 1.  Section 39.116, Education Code, is amended by amending Subsections (a), (b), (e), (f), and (g) and adding Subsection (e-1) to read as follows: 
       (a)  During the period of transition to the accreditation system established under H.B. No. 3, Acts of the 81st Legislature, Regular Session, 2009, to be implemented in August 2013, the commissioner shall [may] suspend assignment of accreditation statuses and performance ratings for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013
school years [year]. 
       (b)  As soon as practicable following the 2012-2013 [2011-2012] school year, the commissioner shall report district and campus performance under the student achievement indicators under Sections 39.053(c)(1)(A) and (B). 
       (e)  During the 2011-2012, [and] 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 school years, the commissioner shall continue to implement interventions and sanctions for districts and campuses identified as having unacceptable performance in the 2010-2011 school year in accordance with the performance standards applicable during the 2010-2011 school year and may increase or decrease the level of interventions and sanctions based on an evaluation of the district's or campus's performance. 
       (e-1)  Subsection (e) does not apply to districts or campuses that would have improved performance ratings had the performance standards applicable during the 2012-2013 school year been in effect in the 2010-2011 school year. 
       (f)  For purposes of determining multiple years of unacceptable performance and required district and campus interventions and sanctions under this subchapter, the performance ratings and accreditation statuses issued in the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 [2012-2013] school years shall be considered consecutive. 
       (g)  This section expires September 1, 2015 [2014]. 
       SECTION 2.  Subsection (c), Section 39.116, Education Code, is repealed.

With it seems a continuous flow of complaints over CSCOPE curricula and other course-ware that seems aligned with the International Baccalaureate scholastic program sponsored by the UN, the bill arouses some suspicions.

School choice programs work only with school transparency. All steps proposed or taken by the state of Texas that lead towards education reform or school choice hinge upon the reporting and publication of this data. So, why would some legislators seek to halt school performance and accountability reports?

As Lou Ann Anderson and others reported, Texas officials have an ongoing inquiry into CSCOPE. That inquiry is concurrent with a bill that proposes to place CSCOPE directly under the oversight of the State Board of Education.

The controversial program seems to lack oversight. The program also lacks transparency. Until recently, parents were denied visibility of its curricula. That curricula has included forcing children to dress in burqas or pledge allegiance to foreign nations. The math curricula also include word problems championing socialism with exercises in the confiscation and redistribution of private property. The recent changes have allowed only limited parental scrutiny. This is an overt denial of parental rights.

SB 1109 appears to be an attempt to stall these inquiries and limit the publication of data that would demonstrate the impact of the CSCOPE course-ware. If CSCOPE is the wonderful program its proponents claim, then why hide its results?