Cleburne ISD trustees discussed a self-evaluation of the district’s performance in community and student engagement, a new accountability rating of House Bill 5, at Monday’s regular meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Tammy Bright presented the report to the board. In 2011 and 2013, the Legislature said there was an over-emphasis on standardized testing in the school districts based on reports from parents, school staff, students and more. With this new accountability rating, Bright said, the Legislature is asking school districts to reduce the over-emphasis of standardized tests because those scores do not provide a comprehensive view of all that students are learning and achieving.
Bright said the new ruling requires evaluation of the district’s performance and each campus to ensure community and student engagement and policy compliance. The code requires districts to assign themselves and each campus a rating of exemplary, recognized, acceptable or unacceptable for overall performance. A district must rate itself, send ratings to the Texas Education Agency and make the ratings public in August of each year.
According to the code, districts must use criteria developed by a local committee to evaluate. Bright told the board each campus would have a local committee rate the campus, then those ratings will be submitted to the district site base, which will come up with an overall rating of the whole district.
Board President Brent Easdon asked if a large amount of residents in the community would be on the committees.
Bright said because the Legislature did not specify who should be on the committee, that decision depends on each campus. However, Bright said, this would give campuses the opportunity to have diverse members of the community such as teachers, parents and local business owners.
Board member Elizabeth Childress said she had a problem with the district self-evaluating because it brought up the question of fairness. She said she didn’t want to see each campus with an exemplary rating when clearly there needs to be improvements.
“I hope we’re not one of those districts that makes it really easy,” Childress said. “We’ve got to be vigilant and have high standards.”
Board member Teddy Martyniuk, along with other trustees, agreed with Childress’ doubts but said the district will make mistakes the first year.
“It’s not going to be right, we’re going to make mistakes and we’re not going to know everything,” he said.
Superintendent Tim Miller explained to the board that he had that discussion with the district site base. He said this is an opportunity for each campus to highlight community values, in both the school and community, which sometimes the state does not take into consideration.
Miller said the district is trying to get the community’s opinion on what those indicators should be so that it can set itself up for improvement.
Even though under the statute the only requirement is that the district must use the criteria developed by the committee, Miller said there are good examples to follow. Texas Association of School Administrators have a possible criteria the committees could consider, he said.
Afterward, Bright said the district wants the committees to be a local decision. The district has recommended that each committee, district and campus, be made up of two parents, two local business owners, two community members and two school staff representatives. Two staff representatives from each campus will be on the district site base.
In other business:
zx Trustees approved $9.6 million to refinance the districts’ existing debt and gave the authority to Miller and Chief Financial Officer David Johnson to meet Jeff Robert of FirstSouthwest in Dallas to decide when would be a good day to refinance depending on the market.
zx In purchases over $25,000, trustees approved a summer professional development where school administrators will attend a summer conference funded by Title I and Title II federal funds.
zx Trustees approved a joint election agreement and election services contract between the city of the Cleburne and CISD.