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White Oak ISD representing East Texas on five-year state education study

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WHITE OAK/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - Student assessment in Texas is measured by a test taken in April once a year. Several groups of schools want to change that, and White Oak ISD is at the forefront of that change.

Parent Dana Wood has a 6th grader in White Oak. She serves on a local committee of parents, teachers, administrators and neighbors who give their input to what goes on at White Oak ISD.

"Regardless of what the statewide standards might be, it's a community that does take local control over what is best for our students here," Wood said.

Expanding local control of public schools is one of three key goals in the Texas High Performance School Consortium.

White Oak ISD is among 23 schools that will take part in the five-year study led by the Texas Education Agency.

White Oak Superintendent Mike Gilbert said it will also find ways to bring to Texas classrooms more technology like electronic textbooks and virtual learning. The consortium will also work to create a new way to measure student achievement and accountability.

Gilbert says today's assessment tests are a progress report, not so much an education tool.

"We believe that a multiple-choice, bubble-in-answer-sheet test is a 20th Century tool," Gilbert said, "and we're trying to create a 21st Century education process."

Wood agrees.

"Any kid on any given day may test particularly well, or not well. I don't know that that gives you a true assessment of what the child actually knows," Wood said.

On Oct. 23, the 23 member schools are going to meet at the Texas Education Agency in Austin. They're going to set the parameters for how this study is going to take place over the next five years. In January, they're going to make a recommendation to the 83rd Legislature. A final presentation will be made to lawmakers in January 2018."

And people can't wait to get started.

"The parents, the teachers, the administrators in our community are with out kids every day. They understand the pressures of our kids," Wood said.

What we learn from these 23 schools over the next five years will affect students across the state for years to come.

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