Superintendent Message (August 21, 2017)

Striving for continual improvement

August 21, 2017

Dear SAISD Staff,

Last week, the Texas Education Agency released our 2017 state accountability results. Overall our District Met Standard, as did 67 of our schools.

SAISD met 2017 state targets for 3 out of 4 categories, including year-to-year student progress, closing the achievement gap with economically disadvantaged and minority students, and readiness for higher education. However, we did not meet our target for overall performance, which is based on how students fared on STAAR tests. And 19 of our schools received the Improvement Required (IR) rating.

Unfortunately, we have struggled with a similar number of IR campuses since 2012.  This was the year that our state switched to the STAAR tests.  Turning around schools where we have long-time low performance does not happen overnight, and sustainability of positive results is key. That is why we established aggressive five-year goals to improve student performance across the board. And now in Year 3, with full implementation of our newly developed systems and conditions, we expect to begin seeing results.

Even though we are not close to where we need to be in student achievement, I believe we are going into the new school year in a much stronger place.

I want to acknowledge the notable performance that we already are seeing. In just two years, we project to be within 5 percentage points of having 90 percent of our students graduating in four years. We’re seeing a 10-point increase in the number of graduates continuing on to college. And we expect 7 percent of our Class of 2017 graduates will be attending a Tier-1 school, which is close to our goal of 10 percent by 2020.

On another high note, our recently released accountability results from the state recognized 29 of our schools for earning one or more distinction designations for outstanding achievement in specific areas. So there is reason to celebrate!

We realize how important SAISD’s success is to our children and families, and also to the city of San Antonio. And that is why we – as one team, with one vision – are striving for continual improvement. There are no setbacks, only the motion of moving forward collectively.

We are ready for the new school year, and I hope your first week of school got off to an exceptional start! I visited several schools on our first day and was impressed with the warm welcome students received as they walked through the front doors. Positive first impressions are what makes students comfortable and excited to return each day – ready to learn. Thank you for setting the tone, not just for a successful first day, but for a successful year.

I believe it is important to emphasize – just like I did at Convocation – that every employee contributes to the milestones we reach. Throughout the District – both in and out of the classroom – projects are being implemented that strengthen the education students receive during the school day.

Construction & Facilities services, which plays a critical role in our campus learning environments, went into overdrive this summer preparing for the school year. Staff finalized the extensive infrastructure involved in adding 6th and 7th grades to several schools. They also relocated whole campuses and departments, and put significant effort into making our new campuses ready for the first day of school.

And, today we are kicking off the Rolling Readers pilot program, a partnership between the Transportation department and BiblioTech, the county’s all-digital library. Seven buses have been equipped with Wi-Fi routers, making them rolling hotspots. During transit, students will have access to more than 40,000 e-books and audio books in BiblioTech’s collection.

I also want to congratulate Andrea Lucas, a 4th-grade teacher at Lamar Elementary, for being named the 2018 Elementary Teacher of the Year for Education Service Center, Region 20! I was honored to be on hand last week as she received the surprise announcement in front of her students.

We know we have the talent, both with staff and students, to meet our long-term goals. I look forward to working with you to attain new heights in 2017-18.