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Education Group Urges House Panel To Create Achievement District For Low-Rated Schools

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

The Texas House Committee on Public Education is looking at what can be done to improve low-rated school campuses.  

Texans for Education Reform, an education advocacy group that is spending heavily in 2014, told the committee on Tuesday that lawmakers need to create a special state district for school campuses are chronically underperforming; an achievement school district.

“We have to think about morally responsible timelines for intervention for low-performing schools,” said Julie Linn, executive director for Texans for Education Reform.

Linn used Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD in the Rio Grande Valley as an example of how the idea of a achievement school district is already at work at the local level. But she said there are chronically underperforming schools in Texas where that type of leadership is absent.

"The achievement school district proposal in Texas proposes a statewide school district to take over chronically underperforming campuses under the leadership of a superintendent who is appointed by the commissioner of education,” Linn said.

Linn said a campus would be eligible for the achievement district after two years of poor performance. She said once goals have been met the commissioner would turn the school back over to the original district.

The plan allows for reform without closing down low-rated campuses.

Texans for Education Reform said they are talks with state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, and state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, who have both expressed interest in authoring a bill calling for achievement districts during the 2015 legislative session.