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An Overhaul of Texas' Accountability System?

Interesting changes appear to be in the works for the state of Texas' accountability system, according to this story in the Dallas Morning News.

The proposed changes, included in legislation moving through the House and Senate in Austin, would require students to meet new, higher college-readiness standards in English and language arts. But at earlier grades, the bills also would allow schools to promote students on a combination of factors, including test scores, grades, and teacher recommendations, as opposed to simply state test scores, according to the story. And state performance ratings of schools would be changed to consider growth in student scores on state tests, instead of only passing rates on those tests.

What's driving the changes? According to the story, some Texas lawmakers believe the current system is simply not getting results. Specifically, while scores on state tests are increasing, scores on outside measures of students' college preparedness—the ACT and SAT—are not. And there's also a belief that the current system punishes schools and does not reward them for making progress, a point of view that's being voiced at the federal level, amid discussions of reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. "Our goal is to do improvement, not punishment—standards, not excuses," the chair of the state's Senate Education Committee is quoted as saying.

And on an unrelated, and considerably wackier note, the story says that lawmakers debating the legislation took the following action:

"An amendment approved in the House would prohibit school districts from regulating the hair length of honor students who have no disciplinary record or unexcused absences."

Texas, let it grow!

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