The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday to hear public and guest testimony regarding the implementation of HB 3906, as well as progress on recommendations from the 2016 Commission on Assessments and Accountability for the upcoming generation. HB 3906, from the 86th Legislative Session in 2019, called for significant changes to the state’s assessment system to reduce the total number of multiple-choice questions and administer the STAAR entirely online by the 2022-2023 academic year. Education Commissioner Mike Morath outlined the new types of items students will encounter next spring and highlighted the accommodations that will be available in e-Government. Although the state may have “solved” the problem of having sufficient computer hardware, Representative Mary González pointed out that 2022 was the first STAAR administration not to have encountered major technical problems such as interruptions in internet connectivity.
The commissioner also described data from the “year-round” pilot of a potential new assessment model in which testing would take place throughout the year with a cumulative score calculated at the end of the year. the year. Not only would this be a more expensive system, adding to an already bloated testing contract, but it also has the potential to wrest local control of program delivery from districts by allowing the state to dictate what instruction should take place at certain times of the year. Texas should be looking at ways to reduce student testing and how much taxpayer money is spent on it; Morath’s proposal would increase both. Texas AFT will closely monitor agency budget requests for additional testing dollars, as well as the implementation of the redesigned assessments in the spring.
Towards the end of the meeting, Representative Harold Dutton, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, announced that the final interim hearing would be for teachers. The agenda for the hearing, set for September 20, will be:
- assess the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teaching staff and current practices to improve recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators
- explore the impact of the regulatory environment of the educator preparation program
- make recommendations to improve the recruitment, retention and preparation of educators.
Although the school year will be well underway by then, we hope that President Dutton will invite a diverse group of educators from across the state, as well as groups of educators, who can share their unvarnished experiences of years and provide real solutions. the legislator must act to preserve the teaching profession.