Letter to the editor from SISD board president Dr. Ann Calahan

Dear residents of Stephenville ISD,

I recently had the opportunity to attend the National School Board Association Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C.  Sessions and speakers included updates on the ESSA, Public Law No: 114-95 (Every Student Succeeds Act), implementation.  ESSA replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and was passed by both parties in the Senate with over 80 votes in December 2015, sometimes referred to as a Christmas miracle.

I have listened to parents, grandparents, and teachers express concerns regarding the stress that testing has placed on our children – upset stomachs, crying, and feelings of failure. I have read letters from administrators that assured parents “these results should be considered as one of many instruments used to measure your child’s growth, not the end-all of your child’s learning for the year.” (Paul Jones, Superintendent Paris Independent School District).  Other letters that I have read dictate to parents what their children need to do before the test to ensure success and accountability ratings for the campus and district. 

Dr. Ann Calahan
Dr. Ann Calahan
Calahan with superintendent Matt Underwood.
Calahan with superintendent Matt Underwood.

One provision of ESSA strengthens support for local autonomy in managing school administration, budget, development, and related operations for school district responsibilities – all important to continuous improvement in student achievement.   The law’s clear directive is to restore local governance and community ownership in public education.  Public comment from all community members is invited and open until August 1. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/31/2016-12451/elementary-and-secondary-education-act-of-1965-as-amended-by-the-every-student-succeeds.

Now is the time to take action as a citizen in the democratic process of this country.  Share your ideas, thoughts, and concerns.

As part of the law, states must also allow public comment.  Below is the information and link from the Texas Education Agency.  Let your voice be heard at the state level as well.  This link closes June 30.

“The State Board of Education (SBOE) is issuing a survey in English and Spanish to seek public input about the state’s current assessment and accountability programs and gather suggestions for future program development. The survey will be open online to all Texans through June 30. The survey is available in English at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2762440/State-Assessments-and-Accountability-Survey and in Spanish at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2851839/Encuesta-de-evaluaciones-y-responsabilidad-educativa-del-estado.”

Thank you taking the time to read this, and, most importantly, for the time to take action.

Ann Calahan

lePresident, Stephenville Board of Trustees

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