- According to a Texas law set to go into effect Sept. 1, districts with schools that receive poor ratings for multiple years could be stripped of their authority and face state intervention.
- After two years of low rankings, districts must develop plans in collaboration with parents and other stakeholders; after three, state education officials have the option of becoming more involved with school management.
- After five years, the state education commissioner must either replace district management or shut down the school, a severe consequence for districts with long-standing poor performers.
The Republican-crafted bill is intended to put pressure on districts to reform schools, rather than letting them consistently fail. In the past, schools did not face closure or intervention over low scores on state rankings. The new law marks a departure from that approach.
“We wanted to apply both a carrot and a stick to the boards saying we’re going to let you have the flexibility to do what you want to do, but we also expect to hold you responsible at some point,” state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, the architect of the new law, told the Texas Tribune.
Other states have approved similar plans for state intervention based on low test scores and poor performance on state rankings. Texas education reform advocates hope the new bill will result not in closures, but in positive changes to how schools are run. But the threat of drastic intervention has also spawned a whole phenomenon of educator-initiated cheating, as students’ performance on tests can jeopardize jobs and the future of the school. The high-stakes accountability encourages even state and district leaders to find ways to boost graduation rates and test scores.