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Recap: House Public Education Committee Interim Hearing

August 18, 2022
The Texas House Public Education Committee met on Tuesday, August 9. Chairman Dutton welcomed the committee and anchored the discussion by addressing the two interim charges that would be addressed – the unfulfilled recommendations of the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability and the Implementation of HB 3906.

2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability – a commission established to investigates and make recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public-school accountability. Their final report can be found: here.

HB 3906 (passed in the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019) – addresses several components related to assessments and administration including a STAAR redesign, establishment of the Assessment Educator Advisory Committee, the development of STAAR interim assessments, and the Texas Through-year Assessment Pilot. More information on these components can be found: here.
Discussion on the Implementation of HB 3906:
Commissioner Morath of the Texas Education Agency began testimony with an update to the research and development aspect of the STAAR Redesign prompted in HB 3906. He mentions that the redesign includes as many open-ended questions as possible and passages that are cross-curriculum linked – meaning if you learn about one topic during social studies, they could include a passage on it during the reading STAAR. Another aspect of the STAAR redesign includes expanding the accommodations that are available to students who need them. This redesign process should be complete by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

TEA is doing additional research and development into implementing smaller, “checkpoint” tests throughout the school year instead of just one big test at the end of the school year. Commissioner Morath made mention of how no state has previously tested their students in this way and that Texas will be piloting this program for roughly 7,000-10,000 middle school students in the 2022-2023 school year. He also made note that one of the benefits to this type of testing is that it allows for teachers to have access to data on where their students are at and what sort of resources they might need in preparation for the end of the year test.

Commissioner Morath’s slides can be found here.

In addition to Commissioner Morath’s testimony, the Committee heard testimony from current educators: Nikole Foote (District Testing Coordinator, Dumas ISD), Jean Chambers (Teacher, Pflugerville ISD), and Julietta Arredondo (Teacher, Socorro ISD) on their experiences with the STAAR redesign process. They noted that proper training to meet these changes will be vital in ensuring its success.
Discussion on the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability:
The House Public Education Committee heard from three panels to address unfulfilled recommendations made by the 2016 commission.

Panel 1: Why Do We Have Assessments and A-F Accountability System?
During this panel, testimony was given on how the current assessment system was created and how it can be improved upon in the future. Panel Members included:
  • Margaret Spellings, President and CEO of Texas 2036
  • Kate Greer, PK-12 Policy Director at The Commit Partnership
Panel 2: Does STAAR Matter to Texas and What Goes Into STAAR?
Members of this panel were given the opportunity to provide testimony on how the STAAR test measures learning outcomes and provide feedback on the redesign process.  This panel included:
  • Dr. Tory Hill, Superintendent of Channelview ISD
  • Dee Carney, Education Consultant and Accountability Specialist
  • Lana Sveda, Associate Director/K-12 Education Manager at The College Board
  • Christy Hovanetz, Senior Policy Fellow at ExcelinEd
  • Megan Perez, Math Gap Intervention Specialist 3-5 at Gregory Portland ISD
Panel 3: What Do Parents Think
The last panel was made up of parents and parental organizations to offer insight on a parent’s perspective when it comes to the application of state testing outcomes. This panel included:
  • Cindi Williams, Co-Founder of Learning Heroes
  • Shea Mackin, Senior Advisor at National Parents Union
  • Faith Colson, a parent of children in K-12 Public Schools
The full meeting is archived and available to watch here.

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