Benny Boyd

Test results reflect gains, losses and growth in LISD

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Last week, school districts across the State began running programs and crunching numbers, trying to decide what the latest round of State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) testing results actually means.

On Monday, as lawmakers and educators remained locked in a debate as to what p

urpose, if any the standardized testing serves, those results were made available to the public. In Lockhart, the results brought equal measures of comfort and questions to administrators and parents alike.

In most cases, campuses across the Lockhart Independent School District achieved the highest available designation, “Met Standards.” However, at both Lockhart High School and Navarro Elementary, student testing scores were designated as “Improvement Required.” It is not yet clear what happened to cause the two campuses’ scores to dip below standards; both campuses were rated as “Met Standards” last year, and both earned special designations.

“We are still working on an answer… ourselves,” Deputy Kimberly Brents said in an email Wednesday morning. “While we do have portions of the data… with the opening of the school year, the curriculum and instruction department is still in the process of reviewing the data.”

Additionally, Brents noted, all of the data necessary to calculate the ratings won’t be made available to the District until mid-September. However, Brents and Superintendent Susan Bohn have committed to providing additional information and answers as soon as they become available, hoping to offer additional explanations in the coming days and weeks.

Districtwide, STAAR scores showed that students made improvements in the following areas: fourth grade reading, fifth grade reading, sixth grade math, and eighth grade math, according to a written statement released by the District on Tuesday

All of the students taking Eighth Grade Algebra passed the Algebra I End of Course (EOC) exam, and students taking the English I EOC passed at an increased rate.

“While STAAR scores do indicate some improve-ment in certain areas, the results show areas in need of improvement, and the district has newly prioritized a focus on teaching and learning districtwide,” the statement continues. “The hard work necessary to make a positive impact on student learning for the 2016-17 school year has begun, in alignment with the high bar set by the LISD district goals approved by the Board of Trustees in May of 2016.”

The goals set forth by the Trustees include: create a collaborative culture of contagious ambition; expect all staff to embrace growth opportunities; and empower students to seize opportunities to achieve at high levels.

In July of 2015, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees ordered curriculum audit, which was received last January. That audit reflected a lack of vertically and horizontally aligned curriculum, in addition to other issues.

The Trustees have since approved the purchase of a state accredited curriculum, and much work has been done this summer to train teachers on implementation.

The Curriculum and Instruction Department has created a district professional development plan for teachers, and has begun by logging over eighty hours of face time this summer with teachers in an effort to positively impact teaching and learning in classrooms.

Teachers have received training on implementing the new curriculum as well as on a variety of instructional strategies designed to engage students.

“Though there is much concern statewide about our accountability system and the high-stakes tests involved, the expectation of our leadership team and of this community is that all Lockhart schools meet state requirements,” Bohn said. “In this last year, we have turned our district focus to teaching and learning, because that is what must be at the center of all our work and of every decision we make. I am excited about the enthusiasm that our teachers have shown as they take part in all of our new district-wide initiatives directed at increasing student learning and academic achievement.”

Part of the district’s new focus on student learning is a new structure of interventions that are to be used to meet the needs of struggling students, Tuesday’s statement said. Instructional coaches, who work directly with teachers to improve their instructional practices and to understand the academic performance data of their students, have been hired for each campus. The district’s technology infrastructure has been updated so that it can support more infusion of technology in the classroom.

Also, the district has restructured its approach to meeting the needs of students with special needs, delivering special instruction in the regular education classroom to the greatest extent appropriate. In addition, as the numbers of English language learners in the district grow, the district has increased its capacity to provide necessary leadership in the instruction of these students by hiring a specialist in bilingual education whose job is to lead and coordinate all bilin-gual and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in the district.

In an effort to optimize learning, every elementary campus in the district will implement programming designed to provide social, emotional, and behavioral supports for students.

Programs and efforts are being made at each campus to improve student engagement and performance. Many campuses this year will see a change in administrative leadership, as many long-time administrators either retired or accepted other positions over the summer, triggering a sweeping rearrangement of staff.

The Post-Register will continue to work with LISD to assess student performance data, and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

(Additional information courtesy of Lockhart ISD)

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