DEPARTMENTS TAX OFFICE
The administration of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) along with End of Course (EOC) tests has begun. Every year, our students and teachers put monumental effort into preparing for these assessments. It is now time for students to take a deep breath, relax and rely on what they’ve learned to tackle these tests with confidence! While the state-mandated tests must be taken seriously, I do not feel that these subject-specific tests are an effective measure of all that students are achieving intellectually, socially and emotionally as our staff prepares them to become productive citizens who contribute to our society in magnificent ways.
Voters will have the opportunity to consider Goose Creek CISD’s 2019 Bond proposal during early voting, April 22-30, and on Election Day, Saturday, May 4, 2019. Highlights of the $335,725,000 bond proposal include the construction of an elementary school and a junior school along with a replacement school for San Jacinto Elementary; renovations, repairs and improvements to aging schools and facilities; a new field house at Stallworth Stadium and four-lane running tracks with field lighting at the five junior schools; safety and security improvements, such as bus camera systems and GPS equipment upgrades, additional security cameras district-wide and GCCISD Police Department fleet vehicles to accommodate the expanded department as well as technology replacement and upgrades.
Thanks to the Citizens Bond Planning Committee members for their dedication to working together to recommend a 2019 Bond to benefit our district’s students and staff. For more information about bond projects, early voting locations and Election Day voting locations, please visit our website at www.gccisd.net.
As the school year winds down, please remember that it’s important to finish strong. For students, this means continuing to work to achieve good grades, good attendance and good behavior. For teachers, this means using your talents, abilities and energy to continue making a difference in the lives of your students up through last day of school even though your patience may be wearing a little thin. For parents, this means figuring out activities for your children to keep them learning, progressing and staying occupied throughout the summer. Nothing’s worse than hearing, “I’m bored,” on the second day of summer, so make plans now.
Don’t forget that our summer will be a little shorter this year as we have adjusted our school calendar to accommodate balanced semesters. This will benefit both students and faculty in planning, studying and testing. The net result will mean an earlier start to summer next school year. Best wishes for a fantastic final six weeks of the school year as you plan for family time during the summer break.
Last week our students took benchmark (practice) tests to ensure that they have made sufficient progress as we head into the final teaching stretch of the school year before the STAAR tests will be administered. Many people, staff, students and parents alike often view this testing season as a time of high anxiety and high stakes not only for Goose Creek CISD, but districts throughout the State of Texas.
These state-mandated tests have been a sore spot and source of controversy for years. It's fitting then, that as the dreaded testing season kicks into high gear, Texas Monthly published an in-depth piece about flaws in the tests and state leader's apparent unwillingness to dive deeper into those serious defects. The headline of the article read, "Are Kids Failing? Or Are the Tests Rigged?" It is most definitely worth the read for concerned parents and, frankly, taxpayers who are funding an ineffective test that does little, if anything, to measure actual student progress and success.
It is sometimes difficult for district leaders to openly criticize the state testing system. When we do, we are often accused of simply avoiding accountability altogether, which could not be further from the truth. I'm a firm believer in that what is important must be measured, so we would continue to monitor our student’s success with or without a state instrument to do so.
Let me be perfectly clear: we need accountability! Our parents and communities need to know that we are doing our best to provide a quality education. However, I do not believe the STAAR test is the answer.
Let's break down a few key points of the Texas Monthly article, most of which comes as no surprise to Texas teachers who have been voicing their concern about test results for years. Students who they know are reading on grade level, per the state curriculum, are failing the STAAR. That's because this exam administered by the state is testing students on reading passages one to three grade levels above where the state's own curriculum says the students should be. In other words, the state's own test is testing above the state's own curriculum. Does that make sense to you? Then you understand why, as educators, we have been confused for some time.
Here's the reality of what happens under this scenario. Students, good students, are being told, through the test results, that they are not up to par, in fact many of them placed in pricey intervention programs they don't need to be in, according to the state's curriculum. Good, solid teachers with proven results are demoralized and frustrated. Parents and the community are led to believe that schools are "failing". Which is simply not true, even by the states own measure approximately 93% of schools meet the state standard, even with this flawed instrument. It is the test that is failing us, in that it is not demonstrating the higher level of achievement with its misaligned structure.
The problems with the STAAR test, many of which have impacted GCCISD, have gotten plenty of attention. Test questions with no correct answers, inoperable web-based testing, lost test results, longer-than-promised results are just a few.
What's more, the STAAR test- not even an effective measure of student achievement- costs the state about $90 million per year to administer.
I encourage you to read a copy of the article. But don't stop there. Check out two well-respected research studies: "STAAR Reading Passages: The Readability Is Too High," Szabo and Sinclair, January 2012, and "Text Complexity: A Study of STAAR Readability," Pilgrim and Lopez, October 2016.
I have no doubt that as you scrape just below the surface, you too will be shocked at the findings. You will have to ask yourself if this data, which clearly reflects a flawed systematic approach to diminished student assessment results, is merely accidental, or whether something more sinister is at hand. I urge you to call upon state leaders to take action to implement meaningful, accurate accountability for our Texas schools.
What I do know, is that our teachers come to work each day filled with passion and commitment to provide a quality education to every student. Our administrators, from top to bottom, are genuinely searching for innovative ways to support our teachers and support staff in their fulfillment of that responsibility to our community. Our executive team at central office is planning and strategizing ways to ensure that our students receive the education that they deserve. I stand committed to this community to hold each and every employee to the golden standard of quality in everything that we do. Self-reflection and pursuit of improvement in all that we do is a way of life. Working together with our parents, business and community partners is second nature and makes doing the work we do more fulfilling.
Thank you for the support you’ve shown and continue to demonstrate as you visit our campuses and see our students out in the community. Goose Creek Proud!
The Goose Creek CISD Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of the Citizens Bond Planning Committee (CBPC) and unanimously called for a school bond election. We thank these 42 community leaders, parents and teachers for devoting their time to attend meetings, tour campuses, review demographic projections and hear presentations on school finance, current program offerings and needs, safety and security as well as the district’s technology plan.
Through the CBPC’s vision for the future of education in GCCISD, the 2019 Bond includes renovations and repairs to schools and facilities; new construction, including a new elementary and a new junior school along with a replacement school for San Jacinto Elementary; improvements to Stallworth Stadium and four-lane tracks with field lighting at the five junior schools; safety and security improvements and technology improvements and replacements. The $335,725,000 bond will be presented to voters Saturday, May 4; however, early voting is April 22-30 at a variety of locations. Stay updated on the details of the 2019 Bond on our website at www.gccisd.net.
Our Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department recently hosted the 7th Annual Career Night for all district students and parents at Robert E. Lee High School. Thirty business and industry partners were represented along with 12 post-secondary institutions or programs. Information tables and/or High School Options sessions for all GCCISD clusters, our three academies at the high schools, Stuart Career Tech High School, Impact Early College High School and the Cosmetology program were available. The GCCISD Counseling Department/College Career Readiness also hosted a FAFSA assistance session. I enjoyed seeing so many parents at one of our evening events.
Around the district, we have recently had the opportunity to view the amazing student art display at the Administration Building for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo School Art Competition. We obviously have some talented artists, as well as teachers, who have provided the skills and encouragement they needed to shape and mold their talent. I simply could not tell whether some of the work was by hand or an actual photograph. Best wishes to the students whose artwork has advanced to the HLS&R Competition at the NRG Center in hopes that they will advance to the rodeo’s auction. Art students also are preparing to compete in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE).
Other recent highlights include the announcement of four of our high school students selected to the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Choir and three high school dancers recognized as All-State Dancers by the Texas Dance Educators Association. Students are participating in UIL Academic Meets, and the District Spelling Bee is just around the corner. Cedar Bayou Junior’s Robotics Team placed second in Core Values at a recent meet, advancing to the next level in March, and the high school Robotics Team is preparing for the regional competition at San Jacinto College.
We are finishing our winter sports with the Goose Creek Memorial High School’s girls basketball team competing for the district championship and the Robert E. Lee High School boys basketball team battling for a playoff spot. GCM and REL’s boys soccer teams are proving to be two strong teams in 22-5A, and all spring sports are gearing up.
As I visit classrooms, I am amazed at the use of technology by our students and teachers and the variety of engaging activities happening every day. While I recognize that there is ongoing preparation for the upcoming State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and End of Course (EOC) exams, I would like to encourage all students to apply themselves, but at the same time to relax and exhale, as we know that a single test on any given day cannot, nor will it define who you are as a person. We are about developing the whole you, with every little detail as unique and individual as you are a person.
Finally, I want to share that I visited Austin, Texas, recently for our annual administrator conference. It happens to coincide with the beginning of our legislators biannual general session. I am cautiously optimistic about the possibility of our elected officials setting aside their personal agendas and delivering meaningful reform. I encourage you to follow the progress of the 86th Legislative Session.
Meanwhile, I will be joining forces with you right here on the home front ensuring that we are providing the highest quality education possible for all our students. Thank you for what you do each and every day for our students and community!
Consolidated Independent School District
4544 Interstate 10 East | Baytown, Texas 77521 | 281.420.4800
P.O. Box 30 | Baytown, Texas 77522 | 281.420.4800
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