PAISD among many districts challenged with education rebound

Published 12:50 am Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Port Arthur Independent School District is one of many across the state sorting its way through new mandates.

House Bill 4545, passed during the 87th regular legislative session, went into effect in June and centers around Accelerated Instruction.

The rules surrounding the bill are forcing districts to make changes in instruction.

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Superintendent Mark Porterie outlined the new statute during a recent board meeting.

“House Bill 4545 establishes new requirements for supplemental accelerated instruction for students who do not pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test.

“Districts are mandated to establish supplemental accelerated instruction practices during the 2021-2022 school year and beyond for all students, based on their STAAR results from spring 2021.”

Porterie said, in essence, students in grades 3-8 that did not pass the STAAR must go through Accelerated Instruction.

And this is for every test they did not master to meet minimal qualifications on or if they did not take the test at all.

Earlier this week students in the district were given a Beginning of Year test focusing on information from their previous grade level. The test is generated by the Texas Education Agency and is designed per Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

Trustee Joseph Guillory III asked Porterie if a student did not pass the STAAR but passed the BOY would that student have to go through the Accelerated Instruction. The answer is yes.

Another change to adapt to is the elimination of grade placement committees.

“This was when parents, principals and teachers would get together and would decide if a student was able to be promoted to the next grade even though they did not pass the STAAR,” Porterie said. “That has gone away and it removes retention for 5th and 8th grade students solely on the basis of the STAAR.”

This brings in the option for specialized teachers to work with the student or providing 30 hours of tutoring in each subject the student failed or did not take.

But, he said, the tutoring is to be performed in addition to the students’ current curriculum.

Porterie and staff are concerned with the need to gather the information and present it on its website in a way parents can understand.

“We are going to keep moving, keep asking questions and talking to one another and we need to come up with a plan,” Porterie said.