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      HCISD asks for standardized testing waiver

      The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District will play a big role in Texas' education this year.

      They are one of 23 districts throughout the state selected to come up with ideas on how to improve the education accountability system.

      The consortium will have to report back to the education commissioner.

      High-performance campuses that qualified HCISD for the consortium are Bowie Elementary, Early College High School and Vela Middle School.

      Superintendent of Curriculum Instruction Michelle Everett said this is a huge charge, and that's why the district wants a waiver for standardized testing this year.

      "While we are not opposed to accountability at all - we expect to have high standards we want to have high standards - we also want students to love coming to school to learn in a manner that they find is meaningful to their lives, Everett said. So we don TMt want to focus on simply paper, pencil, test."

      The application for the waiver was submitted in December and HCISD hopes that at least the three campuses included in the consortium will be exempt from standardized testing, or at least from some of the state and federal requirements.

      Otherwise we're trying to meet two different systems at the same time - develop a new system and meet the standards of the old, Everett said. So we'd like to have some freedom to explore and have some field research on what some of the recommendations are (that) the consortium is making to the commissioner."

      Everett adds the overemphasis of testing is stealing children's love of learning.

      Educators would also like to focus on more meaningful engagement for students like hands-on activities, performance and project based learning.

      For the first time the state is also requiring an end of course to count for 15 percent of a student TMs final grade.

      Currently the issue is up in the air and Everett said it's affecting students.

      The state has never required that before, though they required TAKS in the past as part of a graduation requirement, Everett said. So this is the first time that they have over reached into the grading policies locally."

      HCISD would also like law makers to review the funding formulas they use for different populations.

      They would like more funding for English language learners and economically disadvantaged children.