When on campus, Lisa Riggs spends most of her time in the classroom monitoring both teachers and students like Caroline Alvarado (left) and Alizon Crisanto.
The Texas State Board of Education could approve an African American studies curriculum as soon as next year. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath is seeking input from Texas families and taxpayers on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will use this survey to help determine how the federal law can be used to improve accountability, funding, school advancement, and grant-making systems.

“The passage of ESSA has created a unique opportunity to inform Texas’ education policy,” Morath said. “However, we need input from all parts of our state to ensure that, under ESSA, all students in Texas can receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the future.”

When the bill was signed into law in December 2015, many found a cautious hope that it would mean the end of high stakes testing. The bill replaces No Child Left Behind, which increased the use of standardized testing as the near sole measure of school, teacher, and student success.

ESSA seeks to return more control to the states and districts, allowing for more holistic measures of students’ learning. For many in Texas, the birthplace of high-stakes testing, state control was a damper on their enthusiasm for the bill. Some educators and teacher groups wonder if lawmakers could give up their sweeping, one-size-fits-all accountability tool.

The survey does not directly address testing. Most of the questions consist of ranking issues in order of importance, with a blank to fill in issues not mentioned above. The last question is also a blank space to address anything not addressed in the rest of the survey. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.

The survey does address teacher support, wrap around services, resources for struggling schools, and other potential initiatives.

While the impact of ESSA on individual Texas school children remains to be seen, the survey is a chance to offer feedback. With the TEA forming its new strategic plan and seeking input from the public, now is time to speak up.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.