Other Issues for Consideration
School Start Date
- The District believes that the school start date should be at the district's discretion.
School district administrators and the community should be able to make a decision regarding start date. The District does not agree that the mandated late start date is a good idea or in the interest of local control. Many community members prefer the earlier start date with more holidays throughout the year. School districts such as Pflugerville ISD, want to be able to decide the start date of school which best meets its individual community needs.
- Pflugerville ISD supports the implementation of new accountability standards established by the 81st session of the legislature and desires to have continued input into the rule-making process throughout the transition period.
- The District is concerned about the timing of the end of course exams as they relate to the current textbook allocation and resources for professional development. We respectfully request that any reduction to the textbook allocation take into account instructional materials needed to properly prepare for these exams.
We recognize the fact that the state is facing a budgetary shortfall. Attempts to balance the budget by reducing the availability of new textbooks and instructional materials fails to support our teachers and will adversely impact the performance of our students on the end of course exams.
- We believe that the undue pressures of testing should be lessened and the entire academic record of a student be considered when determining eligibility to graduate on either Recommended or Distinguished Plans, just as was done with grade level promotion criteria at grades 5 and 8.
The District continues to be concerned about the excessive testing pressures placed on our students. Twelve end-of-course examinations (three exams in each of four subject areas) will replace the current four exit-level, high stakes testing opportunities for students. Eligibility to graduate will be based upon a student's cumulative score in each of the four areas; however, a student must score in the top tier of the English Language Arts III and Algebra II exams to be considered college ready and able to graduate on the distinguished graduation plan.
- Finally, it appears that the high school End of Course (EOC) Assessment requirement may contain an unfunded mandate. The current wording indicates that a student who meets the minimum expectation, but does not meet the college ready standard must be offered accelerated instruction. We believe that intervention services should only be required for those students who do not meet the passing standard.
Under the current high stakes assessment program (TAKS), the only students for whom school districts are required to provide additional support are those who do not meet expectations. If the End of Course Exams are intended to assure college readiness and if the expectation is that districts intervene to this standard it will require additional support courses which are currently not available at the state level, additional materials and a change in staffing patterns. If the District applies the college ready standard on TAKS, 46% of Pflugerville ISD high school students would need to be served in accelerated instruction for which there is currently no state support.
Implementation of Legislative Requirements
- The District desires that effective dates assigned to the implementation of legislation be reasonable.
After each Legislative Session the Texas Education Agency produces a Briefing Book on Public Education Legislation. The Briefing Book contains a summary of legislative actions and requirements during the most recent Legislative Session including effective dates of legislation. The most recent Briefing Book is 191 pages and was posted in late July, 2009. As an example, SB 2033 dealt with district grading policy and mandated that school districts adopt grading policies before the start of the 2009-2010 school year. In Pflugerville ISD policy requires two readings. By the time the district received the Briefing Book, it was not possible to adopt a new grading policy by the mandated deadline. There are other examples of actions needing to take place by September 1 which does not allow for adequate time for quality and thoughtful implementation.