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Feb. 20, 2012 Board Work Session

School Finance Litigation Update

On Oct. 24, 2011, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the district’s participation in a school finance lawsuit, which was filed Dec. 22. Lead Counsel David Thompson provided an update on the litigation.

STAAR End-of-Course Assessment:  Review of District Policies for Calculating Grade Point Average and Class Rank

The Board of Trustees discussed the effect of new state requirements on district policies regarding the calculation of students’ class rank and grade point average. The Board had previously approved revisions to District Policies EIC(LOCAL) and EIA(LOCAL) to conform to the requirement under state law that 15 percent of a student’s course grade be determined by the student’s performance on the corresponding State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) program, end-of-course exam.

On Feb. 17, 2012, the Commissioner of Education announced that the state would allow school districts to delay the implementation of the “15 percent requirement” until the 2012-2013 school year. The ultimate decision about whether to include end-of-course exam scores as part of course grades will be determined by local school districts.

In view of the public anxiety surrounding the implementation of STAAR and the impact that the new requirement could have on student grades and college admissions, Dr. Carstarphen recommended that the Board utilize the flexibility made available by the Commissioner and defer the 15 percent requirement this school year for AISD students taking end-of-course assessments. Approval of this delay, she said, could provide the Board more time to decide how to implement state requirements next year, after more is known about the new tests. The Superintendent emphasized that the statute governing STAAR has not changed, and that students will still be held accountable for passing end-of-course assessments this year in order to satisfy graduation requirements.

The Board indicated that it intends to adopt district policy revisions to clarify that a student’s score on end-of-course assessments taken in spring 2012 will have no bearing on that student’s grades or class rank. Dr. Carstarphen said that the Texas Education Agency is expected to issue instructions next week to school districts that choose to defer the implementation of the 15 percent requirement.

The Board is scheduled to take action on these policies at its Regular Board Meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 27.

Historic Property Tax Exemptions Program Modifications

City of Austin staff members provided information regarding revisions adopted by the City Council to the city’s program. The Trustees discussed four agenda items regarding modifications to the district’s Historic Property Tax Exemption. The Board is scheduled to take action on an amendment to district policy, and possibly on the proposed inter-local agreement, Feb. 27 at the Regular Board Meeting.

District Policy Regarding Exclusive Consultation Agency

The Trustees discussed AISD’s policy and practices regarding the process for consulting with district employees in such areas as compensation, working conditions and contracts. Chief Human Capital Officer Michael Houser presented four possible options for communicating with district employees. Dr. Carstarphen emphasized that none of the four options would end the district’s long-standing practice of consulting with employee groups.