What is the IMQE? The Instructional Materials Quality Evaluation is TEA's expensive solution in search of a problem. The conflict? The IMQE is funded by taxpayer dollars which should be going to ISD's - so our local educators can determine which instructional materials are best for our children.
Reason #1: Fiduciary duty
As elected officials, we have a fiduciary duty to ensure that the state is spending Texas taxpayer dollars in a manner that provides the best value to the state. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has paid Safal Partners $3.26M for a one-year contract ending in August 2019. Safal subcontracted EdReports to produce quality evaluations or reviews. EdReports has never reviewed Texas materials, they have always only worked on Common Core.
As elected officials, we also have a duty to invest taxpayers’ dollars in doing what is right for students, not in something no one really wants.
The IMQE is also referred to as the "Portal" is NOT something school districts want, as evidenced by the struggle TEA had in getting districts to participate in the pilot. Only 30 of 1,023 ISD's are participating in the IMQE Pilot.
On November 13, 2018, the Urban Curriculum Council, representing 13 of the state’s largest districts sent a letter opposing this project. Three points of that letter:
Each community has its own set of unique needs. The definition of High Quality in El Paso may not match the definition of High Quality in Lufkin.
Reason #2: Using Common Core (EdReports and LA Believes) to review Texas instructional materials
It’s illegal for Texas to adopt the Common Core standards and it’s illegal for Texas schools to teach the Common Core standards. Safal’s contract states that existing EdReports’ reviews (which are exclusively Common Core) will be used on the reviews of Texas instructional materials.
Page 25 of 229 of TEA’s contract with Safal includes an "Updated Statement of Work" (revised as of July 3, 2018), which reiterates Safal’s proposal:
Teacher review teams will use existing EdReports reviews to identify which evidence applies to the Texas rubric.
*Review the contract here: TEA Contract #3854, SAFAL Partners
It is illegal for Texas schools to teach the Common Core. Nevertheless, the TEA awarded this contract for quality reviews to an entity that told us they will use portions of its EdReports and Louisiana Believes’ existing reviews of Common Core materials for the Texas reviews.
EdReports and Louisiana Believes’ reviews of Common Core materials are already available on public websites. EdReports will cut and paste from their existing reviews to produce reviews of Texas materials. Why are Texas taxpayers paying millions of dollars for something we could get for free?
Reason #3: Why is Texas following Louisiana’s model?
TEA has stated that they are modeling the IMQE process after Louisiana’s process.
Why would TEA want Texas to follow Louisiana's lead?
Of the many substantive House Bills heard today in the Committee on Public Education, HB 1853 lays out some of the most outrageous Charter operator allowances:
Texas is only 1 of 8 states in the U.S. which allows uncertified personnel to teach our students. I would not take my truck to an uncertified GM mechanic... much less my child to a classroom where there is an uncertified teacher which the state of Texas cannot investigate for misconduct.
HB 2510 - Disciplinary Action allowed for Charters
Students who attend charters are treated quite differently than students in public schools. For example, charter kids have been expelled for reasons such as presence in school space without supervision, cursing, and not attending Saturday school. Charters also do not post their reasons for expulsion on their Code of Conduct.
While these behaviors may not be condoned, they are not reasons students should be expelled. Bare in mind that:
HB 43 - Charter disciplinary exclusion
ISDs are required to educate all students while charters cherry-pick students in many ways. This bill discussed unique non-selection of students based on “disciplinary problems" which has included the simple removal of students to the principal's office for disrupting the class.
Charter operators are using stories of extreme violence and sexual assault as scare tactics to defend their cherry-picking practices. For example, the question posed to the committee was "Do you want your students with those kids?" The irony, however, is that charter personnel are not required to be certified which disallows the State from investigating and tracking of the inappropriate behaviors of the adults.
It should be noted that according to charter lobbyists at today's hearing, charters can opt-in to Chapter 37 - Safe Schools.
Charters want taxpayer dollars - which are intended to serve the greater good, but only want to serve certain students. Perhaps because it's the only way they can claim such high levels of success or maybe it's because their programs are not as good as they claim because they only work for a specific kind of student.
Nevertheless, if you're tired of your tax dollars funding some students at the expense of all students, contact your elected officials and tell them Texas can no longer afford to support two education systems. Simply funding one great system is the answer Texas students deserve.
Who represents me? https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home
Representative Diego Bernal's HB 4242, will be heard on Tuesday, April 9th, in the House Committee on Public Education.
What does HB 4242 do?
Who will perform the audit of the STAAR tests?
The Texas Education Agency stands by their STAAR tests, so this peer-reviewed independent audit should be welcomed by TEA and both the Senate and the House Democrats and Republicans alike.
Click here for the list of Members of the House Committee on Public Education.
Click here for "Who Represents Me?"
Tell these Elected Officials you support a review of the STAAR test to ensure each question and passage is written at grade-appropriate levels.
Study after study has reached the same conclusion: STAAR exams are testing students at a level of difficulty at least one year above grade level. Many reports are indicating that the tests are as high as three years above grade level.
If you are wondering which universities have published studies, here is a list:
There have been a handful of Texas Legislators asking for audits, ESSA waivers for federal requirements, and a halting of A-F accountability until this issue is addressed.
All of this occurring while students are preparing to test - you may have seen the "STAAR Lock-Ins," asking students to focus on probable test questions for hours at a time... or "Blitz" events which shut down all content areas except for Reading and Math and every teacher and coach becomes a Reading/Math STAAR teacher. I have seen teachers make music videos and students put on plays illustrating how to "Overpower the STAAR." It should be noted that much of these efforts bare little impact on test scores.
With Texas teetering between 40th-43rd in national rankings, it has become abundantly clear that STAAR hurts Texas while doing little to nothing to help our students, teachers, and schools.
How in the world can we get school funding right while we continue to use faulty tests?
Contact your legislators and ask them to support these Bills:
Georgina C. Pérez