In recent headlines were reports from The Texas Education Agency which announced 44 percent of Texas school campuses met the Adequate Yearly Progress, known as the AYP, which is a federal accountability system. However, the Bridge City school district was the only public district in Orange County this year to meet the federal standards set by the U.S. Department of Education under the 2001 ‘No Child Left Behind Act.’

Mike King, BCISD superintendent, recently took a stand against what he calls the “one day, one test” system at a Rotary Club meeting.

“One day, one test does not determine our accountability,” King said. “What we want is a full range of accountability. You just don’t get a full picture on one day tests.”

According to King, the results from the test determine how a school does all year.

“I am proud of the teachers and kids work,” he added. “We are going to continue to work and stress that we’re offering the whole education and not just the ability to take tests.”

All Texas school districts and campuses are rated based on federal and state expectations. Under federal accountability, districts either meet AYP or they do not. However, under the state accountability, district campuses receive ratings such as exemplary, recognized, acceptable or unacceptable ratings.

“All you hear when you hear about school districts is acceptable, exemplary, recognized and unacceptable,” King said. “But, that’s just a one word rating.”

He also said he thought at the schools which received an unacceptable rating, there may still be a lot of great things happening at the school.

During the 2011-12 school year, the state tests were changed to the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness which replaced the TAKS which had been given for the previous eight years.

Over the past three years, the federal AYP system has increased passing expectations 14 percentage points in reading/language arts and 16 percentage points in math. By the 2013-14 school year, 100 percent of students will be expected to pass both the math and reading STAAR assessments.

“One hundred percent of anything is difficult,” King said.

King told the Rotary members it is important to him the school districts provide a well rounded education and not just a “bunch of good test takers.”

“We don’t want that test to determine how we teach our kids,” King said.

Across the state, school districts have been passing a resolution to take a stand against “high stakes standardized testing.” As of August 22, 705 school districts representing more than 3.9 million students have notified the Texas Association of School Administrators, they have adopted the resolution during their school board meetings.

Each BCISD board member signed the resolution in May. It states, “ ..the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage.”

In addition, the resolution reads, “… our vision is for all students to be engaged in more meaningful learning activities that cultivate individual talents, to provide for student choice in work designed to respect how they learn best, and to embrace the concept that students can be both consumers and creators of knowledge.”

The resolution also states they believe in the tenets set out in “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.”

There are ten points they cover, but one of which is in the context they see “learning standards that reflect development of the total range of  student capabilities and that enable students to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to successfully contribute to our democratic ideals and to compete in today’s digitally connected world.”

King says the “four by four program” is a “good plan, but cuts vocational classes.” It consists of four years each of math, English, science and social studies. He added, the high school now offers three welding classes and 52 students have signed up. In addition, 40 students have signed up to take a class on the principals of manufacturing and career connections classes.

“We are lucky in Bridge City. We provide a well rounded education for our students and that will take care of the tests,” King said.
The resolution ends with, “..the Bridge City ISD Board of Trustees calls on the Texas Legislature to re-examine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, uses more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements and more accurately reflects what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students.”

“I firmly believe the folks in Austin would be willing to discuss this as long as we are not talking about finance,” King said.