A press release from the Rio Grande City CISD declares “We looked at our test results from last year and as a district, we are right on target with the expectations from the state,” according to Rio Grande City CISD Director of Testing and Evaluation Elsa Lopez. “All our schools met the accountability rating and that’s great news. Our kids did well, just demonstrating how smart they are and how wonderful our teachers are.”
In addition to the new STAAR test implemented by the state during the 2012-2013 school year, the Texas Legislature made some major changes to testing that impact all students this year.
“At the high school level we went from 15 end-of-course exams to five, including Algebra I, Biology, English I, English II and History,” Lopez said. “And the law was made retroactive, meaning that the kids in high school now just have to pass the five exams to be ready for graduation, whether they are seniors or freshmen. So, by the time students are seniors, they should have passed all their tests and be able to focus on career exploration and preparing for a possible college or job opportunity.”
What Lopez is referring to is a new focus on not just college-readiness, but career readiness that is now mandated by new state laws.
“The legislature created new degree plans that allow students to focus on career pathways,” she explained. “There is a renewed interest in exposing all students to different careers through hands-on classes at the high school sites. It’s something we used to do, but that took a back seat to testing. Now, we can expand those offerings again.”
Currently, RGCCISD students can take classes exploring careers in automotive technology, computer maintenance, cosmetology, culinary arts, pharmacy technology, phlebotomy and welding, just to name a few. Concerning the district’s elementary and middle school students, Lopez says that although the testing remains the same, parents will notice a change in behaviors at the schools.
“Overall, there is less emphasis on testing in all grade levels and more emphasis on pure teaching so that’s a very positive change for the students, teachers and parents,” Lopez concluded. “Kids will have less interruptions regarding testing in their school day and we hope that these changes will allow our teachers to truly embrace and celebrate their craft of teaching.”