Archive for May, 2013

Educators all across Texas have been anxiously awaiting news of changes to graduation plans, testing, and the accountability system in Texas. While it started off strong, there was a period of roughly one month this spring where there was not a word, no news at all, nothing. We were all hoping something would be done before the End-of-Course tests were to be given this year, but no news came, so schools all across Texas went about business as usual (unfortunately) and administered up to 15 EOC tests. Students loved it. Counselors loved it. Teachers loved it. (YEA, RIGHT!!!). Maybe the only ones who loved it were from Pearson, who had a massive contract for testing in Texas.

This week, as schools began receiving their results on these tests, and as counselors and principals began frantically thinking and planning on just how we would schedule all of the tests again in July for students who had to retest, we get some news. The House and Senate have been meeting in a Conference Committee to work out the details of new graduation plans with different pathways to graduation, new assessment plans that cut the number of End-of-Course tests from 15 to 5, and new details of the accountability system which will be used to rate and measure schools. They plan on voting today, May 26th, on this bill that, I believe, will be great for high school students in Texas.

Texas capitol building

Below is a summary of the bill that will be voted on today. After it is adopted, it will then be sent to Governor Rick Perry to sign into law.

Graduation Plans
House Bill 5 Conference Committee Report

  •   Creates a foundation plan of 22 credits which includes: 4 ELA, 3 Math, 3 Science, 3 Social Studies, 2 Foreign Language, 1 Fine Art, 1 PE and 5 electives.
  • Maintains House language allowing students to earn an additional endorsement in one of five areas: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies. Each endorsement requires students to earn a total of 26 credits which includes an additional flexible math credit, flexible science credit and two additional electives.
  • All students must select an endorsement but may opt for only completing the foundation plan after grade 10 with parental consent.
  • Maintains the House language requiring all students to have a personal graduation plan developed with their parents and local educators that promotes college and workforce readiness.
  • Maintains the House language allowing districts to partner with community colleges and industry to develop rigorous courses that address workforce needs, provide technical training and count towards graduation.
  • Maintains the House language directing districts to partner with higher education to provide developmental education courses the senior year in math and English for college bound students not demonstrating college readiness at the end of grade 11.
  • Maintains a distinguished level of performance for students. To earn the distinguished level, students have to complete the requirements of the foundation program, an endorsement and earn an Algebra II credit. Allows students completing the distinguished level to be eligible for college admission under the Top 10% automatic admissions provision. (Similar to current law)
  • Maintains House language allowing all high school graduates to be eligible to apply for admission to Texas public four-year universities.
  • Maintains House language allowing all high school graduates to be eligible to receive a TEXAS Grant
  • Maintains House language allowing current ninth and tenth grade students the benefits of the new structure.


  • Reduces the number of required end-of-course assessments from fifteen to five.
  • Allows students to meet their graduation assessment requirement by passing ELA I, ELA II, Algebra I, biology and US History. English Language Arts tests are combined into one assessment instead of separate reading and writing tests.
  • Eliminates the requirement that the end-of-course assessments determine fifteen percent of a student’s course grade and establishes clear graduation requirements for students and parents by eliminating the cumulative score requirement.
  • Provides for transparency by requiring the STAAR exams to be released to the public.
  • Maintains House language allowing satisfactory performance on Advanced Placement exams, SAT exams and the ACT to satisfy graduation requirements.
  • Allows districts at their discretion to administer English III and Algebra II assessments for diagnostic purposes only.
  • Maintains House language allowing current ninth and tenth grade students the benefits of the new assessment program.


  • Maintains House language evaluating schools on more measures than state standardized assessment by requiring at least three additional indicators of academic performance including but not limited to percentage of students graduating with endorsements or distinguished level of performance, number of students earning college credit and number of students earning workforce certificates.
  • Establishes a three category rating system that evaluates schools on academic performance, financial performance and community and student engagement.
  • Maintains House language directing the agency and districts to release all three ratings at the same time to provide a clearer understanding of overall school performance.
  • Allows local communities to engage in the accountability process by requiring districts to set goals and evaluate performance locally in addition to state ratings.

From Rep. Aycock’s Office

I would like to hear your thoughts about these changes for graduation, assessments, and accountability.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think and how you feel.

Simply Lead

Today was an AWESOME day!

I was fortunate enough to attend Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2013, a one day event that is held LIVE in Atlanta, Georgia and broadcast to hundreds (over 750, I think) of locations around the world.

I can’t say enough about how great of an event this was.  Not only were the speakers and the information they shared great, you could also download the Chick-fil-A Leadercast app.  This was an amazing app that had additional leadership resources, You could take notes directly on the app, and, at one point the emcee, Tripp Crosby, Facetimed with everyone who had downloaded the app.  It was just plain cool!

The theme of this year’s Leadercast 2013 was SIMPLY LEAD.  So in keeping with the theme, I will share a little bit of what I got from each of the speakers.

1.  ANDY STANLEY — Best-selling leadership author & communicator and founder of North Point Ministries

  • Take complicated things and make them simple.
  • What is your core responsibility?
  • Create a one-sentence job description that describes your critical role, your unique contribution to your organization.

2.  JOHN C. MAXWELL — Internationally-renowned leadership expert, coach, and author who has sold over 20 million books

  • Take something complicated and make it simple.
  • How to Simply Lead — It’s basic math!
  • ADD value to people everyday.
  • SUBTRACT your leadership landmines.
  • MULTIPLY your strengths by developing them.
  • DIVIDE  your weaknesses by delegating them.  (let somebody do it who does it well)

3.  SONYA RICHARDS-ROSS — 2012 London Olympic GOLD Medalist in Track & Field

  • Make a vision board.  Focus on your goals.  Look at it everyday.
  • Focus on one thing.  Don’t multi-task.
  • Focus on victory … not what can go wrong.

4.  DR. HENRY CLOUD — Leadership consultant and coach.  Clinical psychologist.

  • Bring necessary endings.  Prune it.  Quit doing stuff that’s not necessary.  Keep doing stuff that’s vital for growth.
  • Don’t be a HOARDER.  Don’t hang on to the past.  Yesterday has gone — let it go.  This includes people too.
  • Focus your attention on the relevant.  Keep current.

5.  DAVID ALLEN — Best-selling author.  Personal and organizational productivity expert.

  • Crisis evokes serenity.  Why?  Because you’re focused.
  • Everybody has the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day.
  • Have a mind like water.  Don’t over react or under react.
  • Don’t multi-task.  Only do one thing at a time.

6.  MIKE KRZYZEWSKI — Head Men’s Basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA

  • You can’t hold back.  Don’t get side-tracked from your mission.
  • In order to learn and grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
  • RULES are externally applied.
  • STANDARDS are internally applied.
  • You must have standards.  Have your team “own” the standards.

7.  CONDOLEEZZA RICE — Former Secretary of State (2005 – 2009). Professor at Stanford University.

  • Recognize the simple things that you can do better.
  • The key to complexity is to see simplicity.
  • Even under the most dire situations, try to be an optimist.

8.  JACK WELCH — Former CEO of General Electric

  • Be straight with people.
  • Generosity Gene — Good bosses have it.  They love to give and not take.
  • When you say something is important, back it up.
  • Get rid of the high performer with low values.  This person will destroy your organization.
  • Make your organization a place where people love to be there.

9.  LCDR RORKE DENVER  — Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie,  Act of Valor

  • Calm is contagious.  Stupid is also contagious.
  • How can you constantly improve?  Keep reaching!
  • Lead from the front.

This was the kind of event that everyone in any leadership capacity should attend every year. As a mater of fact, you should go ahead and put next year’s date on your calendar — May 9, 2014.