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Texas Senate
May 21, 2002
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Senate Education Committee Examines Teacher Accountability

The Texas Senate Interim Committee on Education held its first meeting of the 77th Interim today, Tuesday, May 21, 2002. Chairman Teel Bivins of Amarillo led off the meeting by telling the members that teacher accountability was largely responsible for improvements in Texas school performance over the past few years, but that we "should not rest on our laurels". He said that examining accountability would take up much of the committee's time during the interim.

The first witness, Chriss Cloudt from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), told the committee that there have been major performance gains among minority students during the past few years, especially when compared with other states. For instance among those who took the TAAS test, the percentage of those students passing has doubled. There do appear to be problems with some school districts with the reporting of accurate information, but she says that this is being addressed. Other testimony centered on the history of accountability in Texas public schools, the transition from the older TAAS achievement test to the new TAKS test, and accountability ratings in 2003 and beyond.

The committee then heard a presentation by Dr. Karen Case, David Anderson and Billy Jacobs of TEA regarding an alternative accountability system. They gave the history of how it works, current status of the House Bill 6 pilot program and information on disciplinary alternative education programs. Dr. Susan Barns testimony centered on charter schools, witnesses saying that some schools had been successful, but that some were not. Linda Brook spoke on accountability for teachers of students affected by the juvenile justice system.

The Senate Education Committee is chaired by Senator Teel Bivins of Lubbock. Members include Senators Judith Zaffirini, Kip Averitt, David Cain, Jane Nelson, Florence Shapiro, Todd Staples, Carlos Truan and Leticia Van de Putte. The committee recessed subject to call of the chair.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.