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ISD accountability changes to get look

December 12, 2012

Area educators are getting a better idea about what will be expected from students taking state standardized tests.

Big Spring Independent School District trustees will hear a report on changes in the state of Texas' accountability system when they hold their monthly meeting at 5:15 p.m. Thursday in the high school board room.

The state recently switched the standardized tests it requires of Texas public school students — going with the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for grades 3 through 8 and end of course exams for high school students.

While the transition to the new tests is complete, passing standards for the tests and how they will be used to determine campus and school district performance is still up in the air.

However, Becky Saldivar, director of assessment and accountability for Big Spring ISD, said details are beginning to emerge to clear up some of that uncertainty.

Saldivar said the Texas Education Agency recently signed off on a series of four “indexes” which the state will use to gauge student performance. Those indexes — student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and post-secondary readiness — will significantly change how the state rates a school's performance.

In the past, TEA looked at test scores for not only a campus' student body as a whole, but in in several subgroups, as well, before issuing a campus accountability rating The problem there, Saldivar said, was that poor scores in a particular subgroup would adversely affect the school's rating, even if the student body as a whole performed well.

Under the new system, overall student body and subgroup performance will be just two of four criteria TEA will assess before issuing an accountability rating. Schools also will be evaluated according to how well they close “performance gaps” between economically disadvantaged students and other groups, as well as how well they prepare secondary students for college and technical schools and how well students' test scores improve on a year-by-year basis.

“And there will be a different type of rating, as well,” Saldivar said. “It's my understanding that the old system or rating schools at exemplary, recognized, acceptable or unacceptable is going to go away, although we don't know what exactly will take its place.”

In other business Thursday, trustees will consider:

• Approval of the district's audit report and investment report.
• Bids for vending machine services.
• A donation from Settles Hotel Development Co.
• Personnel matters.

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