October 16, 2013

Todd Marshall
Director of Communications,
Marketing and Development
903.794.3651 ext. 1013

Class Size Exception Waivers Student Academic Performance and Professional Development Key Topics for TISD Board of Trustees

Texarkana, TX – During their Tuesday, October 15, 2013 regular session, the Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees approved class size exception waivers for elementary campuses and was updated on student academic performance and professional development programming.

At the beginning of the school year, each school district in Texas is required to review its class size enrollment to determine whether its class size for grades kindergarten through four meets the requirements of Texas Education Code 25.112. If the survey indicates any class exceeding a 22:1 student to teacher ratio, the district must submit a class size waiver and compliance plan.

“The class size waivers for our six schools are a direct result of increased enrollment throughout the district,” commented Nanette Power, Executive Director of Quality Assurance. “As a district, we try to keep with a general rule of no more than 24:1 student to teacher ratio and in some cases will add in a classroom aide to assist those teachers with larger classes.”

In other business, Lori Ables, Director of Secondary Curriculum/Instruction & Academic Services, shared with Trustees that there are currently 27 state assessments in Math, Reading, Writing, Science and Social Studies. “At TISD, we continue to work toward identifying student areas of strength and concern and are leading teachers through a thorough analysis of the first state-released assessments. We are using student performance data to make instructional decisions, create action plans and to provide targeted professional development focusing on levels of thinking. I anticipate that all of these efforts will help us tremendously as we move forward into the state testing time period.”

In the area of college readiness, TISD continues to see gains in the number of students taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)). According to Ables, “the SAT district average score of 1097 increased by 59 points during the last year which exceeded the state average (976) by 121 points.” American College Test (ACT) continues to be the test of choice for TISD students, and the district average score remains on par with the state average of 20.9.

TISD’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program offers 23 courses for a minimum of 69 college semester hours of credit. Additionally, there are 33 Pre-AP preparation courses offered for Texas Middle and Texas High School students. Student enrollment in the AP program has increased by 19% over 2012 with a 40% increase in students scoring “3” or higher and a 60% increase in students scoring “5.” Since 2000, TISD has had 166 Advanced Placement Scholars with 30 being named in 2012.

The AP Program allows high school students the opportunity to enroll in college semester hours of credit while in high school. Enrollment in the Advanced Placement Program provides an academic background that will better prepare students for college and the award of college credit hours during the high school years.

For Dual Credit (DC), TISD offers 70 high school courses in collaboration with Texarkana College, Texas A&M University and Southern Arkansas University. These courses provide the opportunity for 136 academic college semester hours of credit. All academic courses required to earn an Associate Degree are taught on the Texas High School campus. The DC program consists of 762 course enrollments, an increase of 45 course enrollments from 2012 and 587 course enrollments since 2002.

The Dual Credit program allows students the opportunity to enroll in college-level courses and to earn high school as well as college credit for the completed coursework. The program provides a continuum of learning from high school to college for those students who choose to pursue a post-secondary degree or certificate after high school graduation. This continuum increases opportunities for students to progress through their programs of study at an accelerated pace. The advanced curriculum provides a background for students that will sharpen their academic preparedness for college. At the same time, the program expands the options available for college-bound students.

The final aspect of the Student Academic Report focused on the three state graduation programs that Texas students may choose from. For the Texas High School 2013 graduating class, 29%, or a total of 127 students, attained the Distinguished Achievement Program level. This ranking is the highest diploma a student can earn in Texas. It requires advanced school work that reflects college or professional-level skills and a combination of four advanced measures – “3” or above on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam, Research Project, Commended Scholar or higher on Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) and 3.0 or higher grade for college credit courses.

Graduates achieving the Recommended Program level equated to 49%, or 213 students. This level of diploma is for those students who earn 26 course credits, including four credits each of Math, Science, Social Studies and English Language Arts. Recommended Program level graduates must not only pass their classes but also complete passing standards for the Exit Level state assessments.

Texas High School had 79%, or a total of 340 students, named Texas Scholars. This achievement level must be a graduate who has completed the Distinguished Achievement Program or the Recommended High School Program and who has completed at least two college credit courses while in high school.

During the coming months, the State Board of Education is expected to make decisions regarding the new graduation requirements detailed in House Bill 5 of the 83rd Texas Legislature. This bill states that the Texas Education Agency Commissioner must adopt a transition plan to implement House Bill (HB) 5 and replace the Minimum High School Program, Recommended High School Program and Distinguished Achievement Program with the new Foundation Program beginning the 2014-15 school year. 

The Foundation program will create five endorsement areas for STEM, Business & Industry, Public Services, Arts & Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies and offer either a Distinguished Level of Achievement diploma or a Performance Acknowledgement diploma.

The final report given was from Wes Kirkham, Executive Director of Instructional Services, and included a review of professional development programs offered by TISD during summer 2013 and those expected for 2014. “TISD professional development plan focuses on continuous growth for every staff member as a key factor in improving academic performance of all students,” stated Kirkham. “It is research-based, data-driven, job-embedded with opportunities for follow-up, standards-based and continuously evaluated for effectiveness.”

Shawn Davis, Director of Special Populations & Federal Programs, shared with Trustees efforts made by TISD on Collaborative Teaching that brings two teachers together to be dually responsible for lesson planning, instruction and progress monitoring for all students assigned to a classroom. TISD currently is in phase one preparing for implementation of the program beginning Fall 2014.

Download Article.