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May 25, 2001


I am sure you are aware by now of the outstanding performance of all our students on the most recent administration of the TAAS test this spring. A record 82 percent of students passed all tests taken. This is a remarkable achievement when you consider that in 1994, only 53 percent passed all tests. In addition, minority students continue to make significant gains at virtually every level. These results constitute clear evidence that our students and our educators are rising to the challenge to ensure that all children are successful.

In a letter to you last month, I addressed some concerns regarding the use of inappropriate rewards for TAAS performance. Some have misinterpreted this letter to apply to end-of-school academic awards, A-B Honor Rolls, and other awards for academic achievement. That was not my intent. Most certainly, students and teachers should be recognized in very positive ways for academic achievement at all levels. Schools wishing to recognize and celebrate outstanding performance on the TAAS should include all students. In this way we celebrate the success of the school as opposed to singling out individual students.

During my tenure as Commissioner, I have become convinced that we have the finest educators in the nation. I am extremely impressed by the tremendous effort our teachers and administrators make on behalf of the children of Texas. As I travel across this state, I continue to see dedicated people working tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of our children. Please convey my sincere appreciation to these men and women for a job well done.

As summer approaches, I hope each of you has an opportunity to spend some quality time with your family, and that you return in the fall with a renewed spirit and dedication to the task at hand. Again, thank you for all you do for children, and best wishes for a pleasant summer.

Jim Nelson
Commissioner of Education

A MS Word Version of this letter is available for download.


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