March 13, 2015
Yesterday, Neil Campbell, ExcelinEd’s Policy Director for Personalized and Blended Learning, and I had the privilege of testifying before the Texas Senate Committee on Education on two important pieces of legislation related to Course Access (SB 894: State Virtual School Network) and School Accountability (SB 6: Public School Performance Ratings) sponsored by Committee Chair Larry Taylor.
SB 894 will enhance the Texas Course Access policy passed in 2013 to ensure students have access to the courses they need to prepare for success in college and careers, no matter where they live. Course Access offers public school students expanded course offerings from diverse, accountable public and private providers. Texas is the only state with course access that specifically restricts student’s participation based on a “substantially similar” course being offered by the student’s school. SB 894 would remove this restriction. Neil testified how the bill strengthens the focus on student outcomes by creating a flexible funding model and using a strong accountability mechanism that removes ineffective providers.
The Public School Performance Ratings legislation, SB 6, will enact A-F School Grading at the school level, enabling schools, communities and parents to transparently measure student performance. During committee debate on this issue, I testified that school grades provide transparent, objective and easily understood data to parents, educators and the public to spur improvement among all schools. Using the clear and transparent A, B, C, D and F descriptors ensures that everyone understands what they mean.
Last week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor unveiled these bills as part of their first round of education proposals. Governor Greg Abbott also made bold commitments to education reform including A-F School Grading and digital learning as priorities in his recently proposed budget. We thank Chair Taylor for the invitation and opportunity to provide meaningful insight on these two issues.
ExcelinEd Vice President of Policy and Executive Director of Digital Learning Now
Foundation for Excellence in Education
Facts about State Virtual School Network, SB 894
- Increases course access by allowing students to enroll in more than one electronic course, even if their assigned district or school offers a similar course.
- Allows students to enroll full-time in courses provided through the state’s virtual school network.
- Expands the number of charter schools that can offer electronic courses and allows them to offer courses statewide.
Facts about School Performance Ratings, SB 6
- Uses clear and transparent A, B, C, D and F descriptors that parents, teachers and administrators clearly understand. Unlike any other scale, A-F provides a system that is understandable and relevant.
- Distinguishes, in an immediately understandable way, schools that are making sure students are learning, schools that are failing and schools that need to work harder to improve.
- Places a command focus on learning, which allows administrators, educators and parents to focus on students.