Tyler ISD School Board
Recently the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the official State of Texas 2012 Public Education Grant (PEG) list. The list contained the same information that was publicly released as “preliminary data” several months ago. I want to take this opportunity to clarify some misconceptions about why a school is labeled “academically unacceptable.” It is also important that we, as a community, understand how our state’s accountability system has impacted what our students are capable of learning.
That is especially true when an organization is as dense with diversity and as complex as a school district.
The new accountability system that will measure student performance, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR), will hopefully be an improvement in that it aims to measure growth for students, schools and districts in specific areas of knowledge and understanding. If we would look at the areas where our students succeed, rather than where they fail, we would see that our students are capable of achieving incredible levels of knowledge and understanding.
In order to help our students succeed academically, our teaching strategies must be tailored to each individual student’s needs.
In education, one size does not fit all. I am concerned by the lack of flexibility given to teachers because of the state’s accountability system. TEA developed Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) based on legislative requirements that outline the coursework Texas students must complete, between kindergarten and 12th grade, in order to graduate. The standards have been revised and rewritten several times in the past 30 years, and each time educators have had to revise the curriculum in order to meet those standards.
If a school district is not given the freedom to teach what it believes is best, but instead is required to follow the state’s standards, then it limits what our students are capable of learning.
The Tyler community has the right to demand better schools, and the responsibility of making them better. As a community we must collaborate to implement effective education reform; as educators we must provide the best possible education for all students regardless of the standards set by the state.
Schools that are designed to support 21st century learning foster economic development and ultimately strengthen our community.
Michelle Carr is president of the Tyler ISD Board of Trustees