Superintendent Message (Nov. 2, 2015)

College & Career Readiness

Nov. 2, 2015

Dear SAISD Staff

I attended the Superintendent Symposium on College and Career Readiness at Region 20 a couple of weeks ago, and it was evident by the close of the event that we are not alone in our college and career readiness struggles. All area school districts, including the larger, more affluent ones, are faced with the same challenge of increasing the number of students who perform at levels that indicate college and career readiness.

For example, I learned that when it comes to Advanced Placement performance, none of our Districts in the region are performing at the national level that our 5-Year Plan calls for. The symposium allowed me to learn how other districts are addressing the issue, and it also solidified for me that with very clear goals, SAISD now is on the same focused path as others in the region.

Four of the 10 goals we’ve established in our 5-Year Plan tie directly to college and career readiness. Our goals are that by 2020:

  • 90% of SAISD high school students will complete Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Dual Credit courses, or a sequence of Career and Technical Education courses.
  • 30% of students will perform at the Advanced Level III on the state assessment, STAAR.
  • 50% of students will participate in the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs, and 59% will score a 3 or higher on related tests.
  • 43% of students who take the SAT/ACT will perform at college-ready levels.

These are achievable goals that remain the focus of our all-in efforts. We are continuing to work on a blueprint of strategies to guide our progress. Review of key areas, including curriculum systems, instructional strategies and professional development, is on-going. Improving in these areas is critical to ensuring that we all are operating in the kinds of optimal conditions that are needed for across-the-board quality education.

At a recent Cabinet meeting and at our Principal’s Instructional Meeting, we began to discuss the how of the plan – the strategies that will get us to where we want to be. Our goal is to begin conversations at the campus level about the direction we are going. We will begin to plan for this in the next few months. 

While there is good work being done in the District, we know that, overall, we are not serving students as well as we should, especially our Special Education students and English Language Learners. Currently, we are working with the Texas Education Agency in its review of those two programs; it’s a follow-up to a review the agency conducted two years ago. We don’t need to await the final results of the review to know that we need to do better. We won’t make excuses. Instead, we will focus on change. We want to use this review as a catalyst to have conversations with our staff about the challenges they are facing and talk about solutions.

As our team members and I continue to visit schools, we see the hard work of our teachers, classroom aides and all of our campus staff. I am every encouraged by the on-going discussions about both our challenges and successes. We know that we have the talent, both with staff and students, to meet our long-term goals.

And it’s important for me to note that our success hinges on more than just what happens in the classroom. Extracurricular offerings play a critical role in student success, which is why I was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the recent announcement of the seven inductees to the SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame. This program not only honors our sports greats, but it honors the District’s rich history.