Since 1980, with the inception of the Texas Assessment of Basic Skills, the first attempt to find out what students in the Texas schools learned during the year and an attempt to curb the fees for students taking the California Assessment of Basic Skills, I have watched as an observer and teacher whose students would take the test at the end of the year. I became a proponent of end-of-the-year testing during my second year as a high school English teacher – the year English IV became a requirement – when, at the end of the year, one of my students failed English IV because he could not read. He had just been passed on because of who his family was. I have seen the end of this train of thought in the 32 years I taught.
Now, the state has consistently made the test harder and added the report card to the mix, which has the local superintendents looking at what their schools are doing and why. Dr. Thomas recently published her opinion on why the disparity exists between BISD and the smaller surrounding schools. That could be one reason. She cannot address the biggest reason because she wants to remain in the system. That reason is the disparity of how schools are measured in the area of special populations. Of all the schools BISD is measured against, Tuloso-Midway is the only one judged by the same standards. The smaller schools get their special populations problems waived by state decree that a small group of students cannot be measured by the same percentage formula.
In any other circumstance, people would cry foul play. Property taxes divide homes and property into groups by factors such as composition and use. Football players follow the same pattern and divide schools into groups by population. When the game is played, all players on the field are judged by the same rules. Why is this not possible for AYP (Annual Yearly Progress)? If reports and newspapers are going to publish and compare, why is the basis for judgment not the same for all schools? This unfair comparison method has forced all kinds of expensive rules on the larger districts and not the smaller.
While I won’t tell you that I could see no problems with BISD as a parent, I will tell you that both of my daughters graduated from BISD in the top of their classes. One began her college career with 42 college hours with a cost of less than $1,500 and the other with 57 college hours at less than $2,200. Not to mention the full scholarship that each received. The first is employed by Valero Corporate in San Antonio. The second is on the President’s List at UTSA. But for a choice I made at one point, one of my daughters would have been a member of one of those special populations. All in all, I thank the teachers of BISD and First Baptist Church School for the success of my children.
Kathy Duge, parent, retired teacher and librarian