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Sharing our progress - Feb. 3, 2020

Dear SAISD Staff:

The second half of our school year is in full swing, and we are beginning to hear how our students are faring in their competitions. 

I am pleased to share with you that for the first time, all seven of our high school mariachi ensembles earned a 1st division at the UIL regional competition. That is outstanding news. Congratulations to the mariachi ensembles at Brackenridge, Burbank, Edison, Fox Tech, Jefferson, Highlands and Lanier.

Accolades also are in order for our JROTC cadets. Teams from Brackenridge, Highlands and Jefferson high schools will represent the District at the U.S. Army Cadet Command, All Army National Drill Team Championship in March.

We also are seeing a promising trend with our mid-year high school end-of-course assessments. First, it is important to note that we have significantly decreased the number of students who re-test in December. Secondly, of those students who re-tested this past December, a greater percentage passed than during previous December assessments. In other words, even fewer students need to re-test multiple times. 

Comparing our December 2019 end-of-course results with the state’s results, we also can show that our level of growth on end-of-course assessments is outpacing the state’s level of growth. This is significant!

For instance, our Algebra I scores improved by 25 percentage points, English I improved by 11 percentage points, and both English II and Biology improved by 9 percentage points. Only U.S. History remained relatively flat. However, five schools showed improvement on all five exams – Brackenridge, Edison, Sam Houston, and Lanier high schools, as well as Cooper Academy. 

At our Board meeting tonight, we will recognize our high school principals for leading their campus teams to improved academic performance. Standing with the principals will be some of the teachers whose contributions led to this phenomenal growth. I applaud all of them for leading our students to success.

Later this week, we will continue to recognize our outstanding teachers.

This Thursday, we will be celebrating our Teachers of the Year. It’s one of my favorite annual events. I look forward to sharing time with each of the campus honorees and their family members.

Teaching is one of the most important roles in our society. Fortunately, the State of Texas recognizes this, and in the last legislative session, approved a new teacher incentive program.

During our next EPIC Saturday on Feb. 29, teachers will have the opportunity to hear an overview of the state’s program, which was established through the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) section of House Bill 3. Additionally, from mid-February through the end of March, the principals and their leadership teams on every campus will begin rolling out a toolkit to engage teachers around the evolution of our Master Teacher Initiative to its next phase and beyond.

We want to bridge our current Master Teacher program to the state’s program to ensure our current Master Teachers won’t see changes in their compensation next year. This bill has created an opportunity for us to sustain our Master Teacher Initiative over the long term, and we commend the state for recognizing the power of these types of initiatives to accelerate student achievement.

Therefore, we are applying to be one of the first districts across the state to participate. Applicants will go through a rigorous review and selection process led by the Texas Education Agency in partnership with Texas Tech University.

Importantly, if we are selected as one of the few initial participants, our goal is to help shape what the state program will look like. We want our teachers to weigh in. Our hope is to shape the incentive so that within three years, all teachers may be eligible for up to $32,000 in additional pay based on performance. This money has been allotted by the state, and we want your support to help bring it to SAISD.

We are planning to submit our application this summer, and we may learn whether our proposal is approved in the fall.

On another note, we also are gearing up for the annual SAISD State of the District address. The San Antonio and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the SAISD Foundation host this breakfast event for the District, and it is scheduled for Feb. 19. 

This year I am taking the opportunity to share the same information in the address with our families through town hall meetings – a format that will allow me to go more in-depth and spend extra time answering questions. We want to ensure parents and community members are aware of the great strides and progress we are making to transform SAISD into a model urban district.  

We will hold the first two community events this week. Tomorrow evening, I am joining Trustee Alicia Perry during a town hall meeting at St. Philip’s College during an event hosted by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-San Antonio Chapter. On Wednesday evening, I will connect with Trustee Ed Garza during his regularly scheduled Jefferson Education Leadership Council (JELC) forum, which will be held in the Jefferson High School Armory. 

I will continue to look for opportunities to personally share our progress and plans in communities across our District after the State of the District address, too.

We are a District that embraces our challenges. Yes, poverty still exists, but education can raise children out of that cycle. We want to share with others that not only are we transforming lives through increased academic rigor and opportunities, but we also are helping children find their identities and supporting their culture. 

We already know that what our students can accomplish will amaze us. We now want everyone to know! Thank you for your steadfast faith in this journey.


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