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District's state accountability results - Aug. 15, 2018
Dear SAISD Staff,
We are three days into our first week of school, and our launch into the 2018-19 instructional year has been a successful one. We received reports of smooth starts and positive atmospheres across schools in the District. Thank you for your optimism and helpfulness as we welcomed students back into our classrooms.  
Good news from the state also greeted us this week. Thirty-four of our schools have been recognized with one or more Distinction designations. This is up from 29 designations last year. This is a good representation of our District, and we should enjoy this moment as a celebration of our schools!    
The awarding of these Distinctions is part of the state’s 2018 accountability ratings, which the Texas Education Agency just released. This afternoon, we shared our outcomes with the media. Consistent with what you heard at Convocation, our District saw significant progress with gains across all grade levels.
As we have been anticipating, the state for the first time gave grades to each school district for overall performance, and SAISD received a grade of C. We also Met Standard in each of the three domains of the rating system. Most notable is that under the new accountability system, the District has shown significant improvement in turning around more schools. 
TEA has provided and certified data that demonstrates how our District would have performed in the previous cycle if the current rating system had been applied one year earlier. In this scenario, SAISD would have had 35 Improvement Required schools in 2017, compared to 16 in 2018. We more than cut that number in half.
Additionally, under that comparison, SAISD decreased the number of students enrolled in a low-performing school by more than two-thirds. This demonstrates the largest percent decrease among urban school districts in the state, from 47 percent down to 16 percent.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has stated that, based on our improvements in reducing the number of IR campuses and the percent of students served in IR schools, SAISD is one of the fastest improving districts in the state.
The large number of low-performing campuses is what has spurred so many changes in our District in such a short period of time, including strong options that aren’t traditionally found in public school districts. Although we aren’t where we want to be yet, we are headed in the right direction. 
We are seeing a lot of momentum. I believe this is the year we’re going to build on our gains and accelerate them.
Already – through your hard work – the District was able to get 15 campuses out of IR, and we are very pleased with that. Unfortunately, we had other campuses that slipped into IR status. Of the 16 campuses rated IR, 12 are new to this rating. 
We anticipate that since these dozen campuses are in their first year of IR, they can move out more quickly. The District will be working closely with them throughout the year to help them continue to improve, and we feel confident that we’ll reduce the number of IR campuses next year.
As we announced on Friday, Rodriguez Elementary School made some progress, but did not meet the new accountability standard. Although the school will remain open this year, the TEA Commissioner will require us to close the campus for the 2019-2020 school year per new state regulations. I want to thank the leadership and staff of Rodriguez for their hard work and commitment to students as they are helping families understand the situation. Later this month we will begin talking with parents in the Rodriguez community about high-quality options for next school year. Ultimately we want to open another school at that location and will work with the families to do so.
Looking at the big picture, we held our own in state accountability ratings compared to other school districts in the county and state. This shows our staff have the talent and our students the intellectual capacity to excel. We can feel comfortable celebrating our gains and reflecting on the success of the past year. 
I am optimistic that our District will continue to overcome challenges, and that this time next year – when campuses, too, receive letter grades from TEA – we may be seeing As and Bs.
Because of you, we continue to move into each new school year in a much stronger place. 

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