2013 state ratings release

Dr. Sylvester Perez1

August 8, 2013

Dear SAISD Staff,

I know a good number of employees are still out for the summer break, but I wanted to be sure to get this message out to those who are already back and gearing up for the upcoming school year. Today, the Texas Education Agency will release, under a brand-new system, accountability ratings for Texas school districts and their campuses.

I am pleased to report that SAISD as a whole, as well as every high school in our district, earned the Met Standard rating. We can be proud of this news. In all, 74 of our campuses rated under the new system met the standards. That means the District and those schools met criteria set out in each of four areas that the state considers in determining ratings. The four areas, or indexes, as the state calls them, are student performance, student progress, closing the performance gap and post-secondary readiness.

On top of meeting the standards, 32 of our schools earned one or more Distinction Designations, which highlight student progress or notable academic achievement in reading or math.

But the results also show that we have room for improvement – 17 campuses (six middle schools and 11 elementary schools) were given the rating of “Improvement Required.” In most cases, the schools fell short in meeting the targets for closing the performance gap, primarily due to performance in writing and social studies. That index compares the performance of Economically Disadvantaged students and the lowest-performing student groups to a performance target set by the state.

I feel confident that our staff is up to the challenge of improving performance at these schools and raising the bar in general here in SAISD. There’s no question that increased rigor and student performance are crucial for our students. And we know that the state will continue to raise performance expectations in the coming years.

Our high schools were able to meet the new accountability standards thanks to a notable and steady increase in our graduation rate, which is one of the criteria in the post-secondary readiness index. Our 5-year graduation rate, which was used to calculate SAISD’s rating, was 82.1 percent for the class of 2011 (4-year rate was 81.8 percent). Our high schools also benefitted this time around from the use of Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills results for 11th-graders, but we won’t have that advantage next year.

Already we are addressing the issues in writing and social studies. One of the most promising efforts toward improvement is the addition of reading teachers in the 6th and 9th grades districtwide to teach a Read 180 class for students who need the extra instruction. That’s on top of the instruction students will receive in their English courses.

Among a list of other measures, we’re also hiring content specialists to help develop literacy skills in math, science and social studies because we want to be sure that reading and writing skills are being exercised across the core subjects. And we are developing a literacy academy for all administrators to help build a culture and knowledge base for literacy in our District.

In social studies, we are strengthening collaboration among teachers and training them to address different student learning styles, as well as offering professional development after-school and on Saturdays, among other efforts.

I know that you are all committed to meeting the needs of the children of SAISD, committed to serving as champions for our children. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the upcoming school year and all that we can accomplish together. I look forward to seeing you on Aug. 23 at the employee Convocation, which will be a wonderful opportunity for the SAISD family to come together and get fired up for the year ahead.

Best regards,
Dr. Sylvester Perez
Superintendent

“The day I’m not improving will be the day I hang up the racket.” – Venus Williams