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  • Big Sandy bids farewell to board members

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | PCE Trustees Glen Goodwin (second from left) and Lee Ann Cain (second from right) receive a round of applause for their service with the Big Sandy ISD school board.Both Cain and Goodwin served their final meetings as trustees for the district. Neither one sought reelection for their terms, which expire Nov. 3.

    By Jason Chlapek

    POLK COUNTY — Monday night’s Big Sandy ISD school board meeting was the finalone as trustees for Lee Ann Cain and Glen Goodwin.

    Both trustees’ terms expire on Nov. 3, and neither one sought reelection. Goodwin was with the school board for 15 years, while Cain served four.

    “They really helped the district grow,” Big Sandy ISD Superintendent Eric Carpenter said. “They had good insight, good knowledge and worked well together. It’s a good board.”

    Four trustee positions are up for elections with newcomer Darrell Murphy and current trustees Mark Duff and Quentin Matthews running unopposed for Positions 2, 5 and 6, respectively. William Handy Jr. and Kabe Murphy are running for Position 4. Carpenter announced to the board that the Texas Education Agency approved the district’s Asynchronous Learning Plan. The TEA approved it on the first try.

    “It’s a compliment to our principals,” Carpenter said. “The Asynchronous Plan is how you’re going to utilize a learning management system, which for us is Google Classroom and how you’re going to instruct students virtually. The TEA had a template to work from and we received some good guidance from Region VI in Huntsville, who helped the administration develop it and even proofed it and gave it back to us and we made some adjustments before we submitted it.”

    The school board also approved Native American Policies and Procedures for the 2020-21 school year. The Big Sandy ISD student body is approximately 25% Native American.

    “We receive federal funds and have policies in place,” he said. “After meeting with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, particularly their Education Department, we developed those policies and procedures. We usually do this in October.”

    The board also approved retrofit lighting to be installed in the gymnasium and a study on property values from 2012. Carpenter likes to perform retroactive property value studies.“You can do property value studies from past years to try to recoup money,” he said. “We use our tax attorneys to go and look at the data from our property values to try and garner additional funding.”

    Big Sandy ISD meets again at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.

  • Flannery presented with TEA award

    Payton Flannery 111920CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Woodville High School senior Payton Flannery (left) was presented with the Student Hero citation from the Texas Education Agency. Matt Robinson from TEA (right) presented her with the award. It recognizes students in pre-kindergarten through high school who do outstanding volunteer service. One student from each of the 15 State Board of Education districts is recognized with the award. Flannery started a group at WHS called Eagles for Christ. Flannery is involved in a variety of other clubs and activities, including the WHS Interact chapter and Future Farmers of America.

  • TEA suspends letter-grading system

    TEA GraphicFILE PHOTO TEA Graphic

    STAAR test will still commence, according to agency

    By Chris Edwards

    AUSTIN – The Texas Education Agency announced on Thursday, Dec. 10, that it will pause its A-F accountability ratings for the current school year.

    The ratings system, which has been in place since 2018, is being paused due to the ongoing disruptions associated with COVID-19, according to a news release from the agency. On the other hand, the STARR test will proceed for the school year “In order to provide critically important information about individual student learning that teachers and parents can use to help students grow,” according to TEA.

    The letter grade accountability system, which was adopted statewide after being passed into law by the 85th Texas Legislature, gives each school district a letter grade based on a number of criteria. The practice came with controversy from many educators and officials, but proponents argued that the system makes for a simple, transparent way for the public to understand how effective schools are.

    “The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students,” said TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.

    Morath said that the past nine months have been “some of the most disruptive of our lives,” as educators and administrators have struggled to find ways to keep students learning while continuing to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus. “The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers and students. We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers and staff in our schools this year, while working to ensure students grow academically,” Morath said.

    Although the letter grades will be paused this year and the STAAR testing will continue, Morath said the STAAR will not be used toward accountability purposes for this school year.

    Morath said the test will serve as a comprehensive picture to demonstrate what might be sweeping impacts of the pandemic upon student learning, and to help policymakers craft solutions for the coming years ahead.

    Morath said in the news release that the test will be administered on school campuses statewide, or at other secure alternative testing sites.

    During the summer, a large group of state lawmakers asked Gov. Greg Abbott and TEA to suspend STAAR testing to some degree. One of the lawmakers who spoke out was State Rep. James White (R-Hillister.)

    White, a former educator, said that the first concern for educators should be for the students’ safety and health, and that any rating based on STAAR testing during the current school year would provide questionable results.

    “The Legislature did not devise the current accountability system in the paradigm of a pandemic that has created a bifurcated instructional delivery system…with vast swathes of rural Texas disconnected from the 21st century means of global connectivity,” White wrote in a letter to Morath dated July 16, 2020.