Texas SBOE Chair Bahorich Genuinely Wants Public Input

Nov 6, 2015 by

public hearing

“Texas SBOE Chair Bahorich Genuinely Wants Public Input”

By Donna Garner



A good thing is happening in Texas.  Donna Bahorich, Texas State Board of Education Chair, and other SBOE members are holding eight Community Conversation forums around the state.


In the last Texas legislative session, the legislators passed HB 2804 in June 2015.  (The links to HB 2804 are posted at the bottom of this e-mail).  


Part of HB 2804 “also establishes the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability to develop and make recommendations for new systems of student assessment and public school accountability.”


This HB 2804 Commission will have 15 members, and the end result of their work will be a report from the Commission to the 2017 Texas Legislative Session.


The Texas State Board of Education has been allotted one SBOE member to be seated on the 15-member Commission.  Donna Bahorich as SBOE Chair will appoint this person shortly. 


When Donna Bahorich heard about the HB 2804 Commission, she and other SBOE members decided they needed to hear directly from the public as to what they want the new student assessments and public school accountability systems to look like.


Under Bahorich’s leadership, the SBOE will have forums around the state in eight different locations (full schedule of locations yet to be finalized) with the sole purpose of having face-to-face exchanges with the public.  (Online submissions also will be accepted.) As they go to these eight different forums, they are carefully documenting what the public is saying.  


The SBOE will take these comments/exchanges from the eight public forums and will submit them directly through its SBOE appointee to the 15-member Commission.   




We will have parents, business leaders, and educators engaging with each other in small groups and reporting out with a problem-solving and goal-focus on assessments and accountability. It’s about where do we go from here and gathering that as input for the Commission.


In addition to the face-to-face input, we will put up an online survey to gather the same information from any Texan not attending the face-to-face forum.


So many times, we as policy makers come up with what we think is great policy; but we have only gathered limited input from the public. Decisions are made, but only those in-the-know have a voice because they knew when to show up in Austin.


I am convinced that one of the reasons we have assessment and accountability systems now that many can’t appreciate is because we did not make much of an attempt to engage the public initially, asking for their input on setting the goals for assessments and accountability. The State Board of Education online survey and the face-to-face Community Conversations are a way of engaging a much broader cross-section of the general public with the SBOE on this important issue.



The first of eight public forums (i.e., Community Conversations – Next Generation Assessments and Accountability) was held on 10.27.15 at Houston Community College with 80 to 90 in attendance.


The Agenda states:


We will begin our live meeting with a full hour presentation covering the current state of assessments and accountability both in Texas and elsewhere. This will be an important informational, tone-setting component focused on current research and considerations to be of use during our group breakout sessions to follow. The group breakout sessions as well as the entire group discussion to follow the breakouts will focus on problem solving. By the end of our time together, we hope to bring together helpful information to pass on to the Commission.



SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich issued the following tasks for these eight Community Conversation Forums:


Community Conversation Tasks


The goal of the community conversation on assessments and accountability is to engage educators, parents, and business leaders in identifying goals we’d like to see for assessments and accountability and ways to get there. In doing this, we’d like to:


  1. Focus on research as much as possible.
  2. Avoid an over-lengthy repetition of complaints already known, while still giving opportunity to understand what we have experienced in the way of unintended consequences.
  3. Understand what are some positives experienced thus far in our attempts to get this right.
  4. Identify community interests to be represented in state accountability standards.
  5. Bring more voices to the table during the Commission discussion resulting in more buy-in after any adjustments are made by the legislature.
  6. Have a problem-solving focused conversation that will produce something useful for the Next Generation Commission.





I am personally very impressed that the SBOE is genuinely reaching out to the public for their input and that this input will be carried by the SBOE appointee to the 15-member Commission meetings.


The public input from the eight forums will also be the subject of much discussion by the SBOE at their meetings. This is a real chance for the public to make their voices heard by SBOE members who are definitely listening.



More information on the places and locations of the Community Conversation forums will be forthcoming as soon as final plans are formulated and made public.



Here is a summary of HB 2804 (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/BillSummary.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB2804). 


Here is the link to the bill itself: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=HB2804




Donna Garner


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.