Austin ISD Formalizes Changes to District Goals Demanded by State

Two score card goals are jettisoned

Lone Star Governance prioritizes standardized tests (Photo via Getty Images)

Austin's school district is continuing to make the changes necessary to get the state of Texas off its back. At the last meeting of 2023, Austin ISD's board of trustees voted to approve a new set of districtwide goals that won't vex the Texas Education Agency.

TEA announced its intention to take over AISD's provision of struggling special education services last spring, but district leaders bargained for a less intrusive solution with TEA. Part of that deal mandates that AISD adopt a "Lone Star Governance" model for running the district, which means that the district's success will be measured through standardized test scores. LSG also provides a set of rules to organize the overarching goals of districts, known as "scorecards" in public education parlance.

“This is just a retooled scorecard for a six month period to get us from January to June.” – Austin ISD’s Jacob Reach

Before TEA came to town, Austin ISD had five major goals on its scorecard, with a group of subgoals for each. Many of them focused on improving learning for economically disadvantaged students, including Black, Hispanic, and special education kids. But TEA does not disaggregate its data on student performance; it doesn't focus on the test data of any one group. So trustees voted Dec. 14 to drop two of the five goals – those relating to improving the performance of special education students and students in grades six through eight.

Jacob Reach, chief of board services, took the trustees through a brief summary of the scorecard changes at a meeting Dec. 7. "One of the changes that I want to highlight is that there are now three goals aligned with [state law] and the LSG process," Reach said. "The goals are based off of all students ... But as a reminder this is just a retooled scorecard for a six-month period to get us from January to June." Reach explained that the goals the district jettisoned are also still included in the scorecard under a different, TEA-approved term: "constraints."

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