Texas Senator Robert Nichols will be meeting with Orange County School Superintendents today to listen to the issues in area schools.

“The superintendents are the one person who deal with parents, students, teachers and the TEA (Texas Education Agency),” Nichols said.

Nichols said he makes a point to meet with each superintendent in his district to listen to what their needs are and what is going on in Texas schools. But, he encourages them to not only voice their opinions but to talk about what they feel are solutions to the problems.

In recent headlines were reports from TEA 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.’

This has been on the mind of many educators in the area as once again they must begin to prepare for the school year ahead and another round of testing.

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.

Mike King, BCISD superintendent, told Rotary Club members during a meeting,  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.

“I truly believe education is the number one issue in the Texas Legislature,” Nichols said.

Nichols met with other superintendents in his district about the testing issues. Like the administrators locally, they too understood the need for the testing, but thought it was a “distraction.”

On January 9, 2007, Robert Nichols was sworn in to represent the citizens of Texas State Senate District 3, which is comprised of 16 counties ranging from southern Tyler to just north of Houston and stretching east to the Texas-Louisiana border. As of January, Nichols said he will also be representing Orange County.

In the Texas Senate, Nichols served as vice chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and vice chair of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. The Republican Senator has served as vice chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and sat on the Transportation and Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Nominations and Natural Resources Committees. He is also vice chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission. In 2010 he was selected by his colleagues to serve as the chair of the Senate Republican Caucus.

During his sessions as a state senator, Nichols authored important legislation to protect landowners’ rights, increased educational opportunities in East Texas and reformed transportation policies. He was designated as a Top Legislator by Texas Insider and a Champion of Free Enterprise by the Texas Association of Business.