Mary Ann Whiteker, superintendent of the Hudson Independent School District and Texas Superintendent of the Year, told the State Board of Education that she has given up on the “testing and accountability game.” A veteran administrator, she is now trying to shape the curriculum to meet the needs of the students. This is a video that is well worth watching.


Texas has the good fortune to have a significant group of superintendents who realize that the longstanding regime of testing and accountability has not helped their students. In 2006, thirty-five of these creative superintendents got together and started meeting regularly to plan a new “vision statement” to describe what they wanted to do. They produced their document, meant to lead the way to a new approach to children across the state, and you will see Mary Ann Whiteker holding it up as she speaks. If you go to this link, you can learn about the process of writing the document. It is supported by the Texas Association of School Administrators. Open this link to find the document that changed her views of what children need.


The Vision statement has a number of important principled statements. Here is one:


We envision schools where all children succeed, feel safe and their curiosity is cultivated. We see schools that foster a sense of belonging and community and that inspire collaboration. We see learning standards that challenge, and intentionally designed experiences that delight students, develop their con dence and competence, and cause every child to value tasks that result in learning. Ultimately, we see schools and related venues that prepare all children for many choices anWed that give them the tools and attitudes to contribute to our democratic way of life and live successfully in a rapidly changing world.


Here is another:


The schools we need are community-owned institutions. They are designed and established as learning organizations, treating employees as knowledge workers and students as the primary customers of knowledge work. They are free of bureaucratic structures that inhibit multiple paths to reaching goals. Reliance on compliance is minimized, and generating engagement through commitment is the primary means to achieving excellence. Leadership at all levels is honored and developed. All operating systems have well-defined processes that are constantly being improved. Attention of leaders is focused on the dominant social systems that govern behavior, beginning with those that clarify beliefs and direction, develop and transmit knowledge, and that provide for recruitment and induction of all employees and students into the values and vision. The evaluation, boundary, and authority systems are submissive to the directional system, allowing for major innovations to ourish, new capacities to emerge, missions to be accomplished, and the vision to be realized in an increasingly unpredictable world.



Whether you agree with every statement in the document, you must give credit to these visionary superintendents for taking the steps to steer Texas away from its expensive and useless obsession with standards and accountability.