From the desk of Dr. Kirk Lewis

Updates from the Superintendent

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Thanking Our Board of Trustees

January is National School Board Recognition Month and it would be insensitive to let the month pass without extending a word of appreciation to the seven-member Board of Trustees for Pasadena ISD. Though diverse in their backgrounds and their opinions, they never fail to put the children first in every decision they make. Their knowledge, insight, wisdom and common sense contribute to every success we have as a school district.

Serving on a school board is often a thankless task. The multitude of meetings, the critical conversations and difficult decisions make the work taxing in the best of times. However, those who serve as school trustees across our state, those who serve with no other agenda than making the best decisions on behalf of the students and staff they serve, find intense joy in the work.

On behalf of the Pasadena ISD staff and students, I want to encourage you to express your appreciation to the volunteer work of our Board of Trustees. Next time you see  Marshall Kendrick, Jack Bailey, Fred Roberts, Mariselle Quijano-Lerma, Vickie Morgan, Jerry Speer or Nelda Sullivan, please let them know you appreciate their devotion to our children. Pasadena ISD is blessed to have them as leaders in our community and our district. I truly believe there is no better board in Texas or in any district in the United States.

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Bring Reason to State Testing

The pressure of high stakes testing on students, parents, teachers and principals hit its boiling point over the past year.  Once the legislators heard from enough parents, many representatives and senators began proposing changes to the accountability system that would reduce the number of tests a student must take and change how those tests will count toward graduation.  Any change would be welcomed relief.

Currently, students are tested every year from third grade to eighth grade. The students take end-of-course exams while in high school in all of the core academic subjects. Success on these exams is required for graduation. It is a cumbersome and complicated system that few understand.

Most of the proposals out of Austin reduce testing to grades 3, 5 and 8, in reading and math. Writing, science and social studies would be offered possible in 4th and 7th grades only. There has been some discussion of reducing the required number of end-of-course exams and simplifying how those tests will impact graduation.

Schools should be accountable to the community for the success of every student we serve. However, standardized tests should not be the only measure of student success. Eliminating the emphasis on a single test will certainly take some of the pressure off our students and our teachers.

We will keep you posted as the proposals develop. Let us know if you have specific concerns or questions about the plans for testing.

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The State Has Needs

The Texas Legislature has its work cut out for itself in the legislative session that just convened. The optimists among us grin because the Comptroller says the state has $8.8 billion in unanticipated revenue available to the legislature and a very healthy “rainy day” fund in excess of $11.8 billion. The pessimists among us sigh when we know the state faces serious and costly issues in social services, transportation, water, and public and higher education as it moves deeper into the 21st century.

In public education, the conversation will focus on funding, reduced state testing, career and technical education, school choice and school safety…not necessarily in that order of importance.

Let me encourage you to pay attention to the work of the legislature this session. It is a critical time for our state. They will make better decisions for Texas when all Texans are informed and engaged in the process. Over the next few weeks, I’ll address some of the public education issues and the impact proposed legislation in these areas may have on Pasadena ISD and our students.

I’m certain there will be many groups clamoring for attention over the next five months…including worried superintendents like me. While I don’t envy the work our legislators must do, it is the work they signed up to do. Let’s hope they do it well.