The Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability held its inaugural meeting Jan. 21, 2016, to begin work on making recommendations for new state student assessment and school accountability systems. Created by HB 2804, passed last legislative session, the commission was appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House, in addition to the chairs of the Senate and House education and higher education committees, and a State Board of Education member. The commission is charged with developing and making recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public school accountability that address certain listed attributes. The commission must submit a report to the governor and legislature that recommends statutory changes to improve systems of student assessment and public school accountability by Sept. 1, 2016.

The commission spent most of the first meeting listening to presentations by TEA staff regarding the state assessment and accountability system as well as a presentation by an assessment expert, Dr. Andrew Ho of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Included among Ho’s recommendations for wise use of assessments in accountability systems were to emphasize school improvement over school rankings, and design accountability systems to build in the time necessary to establish valid, reliable measures of accountability.

Members interacted with the presenters throughout the meeting, revealing possible areas of interest through their lines of questioning. Several members expressed an interest in how Texas will be able to establish that high school students graduate college- and career-ready (especially since HB 5 eliminated passage of the Algebra II and English III EOCs as a graduation requirement, which had been used as measures of college/career readiness); others were interested in how/whether norm-referenced tests could be used in our state accountability system, whether sampling of student test results could be used for accountability purposes, and what different forms testing could take, other than standardized tests (such as performance tasks or computer adaptive testing).

In order to accomplish the statutory requirement to submit a report to the governor and legislature by Sept. 1, 2016, the commission has set an ambitious meeting schedule, with meetings scheduled for:

  • Feb. 23, 2016 (public testimony taken)
  • March 23, 2016
  • April 20, 2016
  • May 25, 2016
  • July 27, 2016

In addition, State Board of Education chairwoman Donna Bahorich has been holding a series of Community Conversations on the topic in different areas of the state, to which parents, educators and business leaders are invited to give input and offer ideas. As TCTA receives details about these meetings, we are providing that information to our local leaders.

TCTA plans to monitor and work closely with the commission on ideas for creating better measures of student learning and accountability systems that encompass a more holistic view of campus and school district performance.