Districts challenge state's latest accountability system

By Chris McGuinness

Killeen Daily Herald

The Killeen Independent School District joined more than 572 other Texas educational districts when it passed a resolution regarding high stakes testing earlier this week.

The resolution addressed a growing concern with school districts that testing has been overemphasized as the only method of assessing academic success at the expense of a richer educational experience for students.

"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 that 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," the resolution reads.

The resolution was passed by the district's board of trustees by a 6-0 vote at its regular meeting Tuesday. In passing it, the district joined more than 55 percent of Texas school districts that passed resolutions with similar language. Combined, those district's serve about 3.5 million, or more than 70 percent of the state's students.

With the growing number of district's approving such resolutions, the documents may encourage lawmakers to take another look at the testing accountability system.

"We hope to see some kind of modification" said Robert Muller, KISD superintendent. "We hope to assist in any way we can."

Much of the language of the resolution was adopted from a resolution template from the Texas Association of School Administrators, said Muller, but the district also added some of its own language.

The district's resolution included stating the current assessment requirements were "costly" and "excessive," and the state's current assessment and accountability system impeded participation in career and technical education programs.

The school board's vote on the resolution drew State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, to the meeting where he publicly encouraged the members to vote for it.

"Everyone can agree that there needs to be accountability, but we need to get rid of this drill-and-kill mentality," said Aycock on Tuesday. "I usually try to stay out of y'alls business, but there's an item here I feel very strongly about."

On Wednesday, Aycock said such a resolution would help him show other lawmakers and government officials the issue's growing concern.

"It absolutely makes a difference when you can show elected officials what people's opinions are," said Aycock. "It gives me some ammunition to take to them."

In passing the resolution, the district joined other Central Texas districts including Copperas Cove, Belton, Lampasas, Gatesville and Salado.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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