Trustees look at beginning of school data for students
The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held a workshop on the evening of October 13. A recap of the agenda is below.
1. Roll Call. Delma Abalos was absent.
2. Verification of Compliance with Open Meeting Law.
3. In his opening remarks, Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri, took the chance to thank the Players Coalition for its $50,000 grant – announced last Friday – that will help our District expand broadband internet access through the purchase of wireless access points. These new access points will be available at the 25 most economically disadvantaged campuses and will make the ECISD network available within a certain radius of the school, making it accessible to families even when school is not in session.
4. There was no public comment.
5. Reports/Discussion items.
A. The Curriculum & Instruction division gave Trustees an update on the virtual learning experience of students this semester. The C&I team described the lesson planning framework, created by the District and approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), that established the patterns for students to Enter the class, Connect to the standard/lesson objective, receive direct Instruction, allow Students to collaborate and demonstrate skills, and the means for Data collection and assessing learning. Trustees viewed the list of tools and resources available to students and teachers, such as the $1.6 million spent this summer to buy Nspire Calculators for every student, grades 6-12 to use whether learning face-to-face or virtually. Trustees also watched several videos of examples of virtual lessons, as well as testimonials from a few students and teachers.
B. Trustees discussed their strategic plan goals for student achievement, and the incremental goals they will use to gauge growth between now and 2024. The board is monitoring attendance; growth; kindergarten readiness; 3rd grade; 6th grade; 8th grade; English I and Algebra I; College/Career/Military Readiness; the four-year graduation rate; postsecondary enrollment; postsecondary completion; academic gaps; and school connectedness.
C. Dr. Muri gave board members a data-focused update on the opening of schools. He lauded the work of the Human Resources Department as the District currently has 38 teacher vacancies compared to 352 on year ago. In terms of enrollment, Prekindergarten and kindergarten are much lower than one year ago. Overall elementary enrollment is down, middle school enrollment is slightly lower and enrollment in 10th-12th grade is a little bit higher than one year ago. Currently, 38% of students are learning remotely; the remote learning percentages are higher with older students. Several concerns Dr. Muri pointed out for the board: attendance is down about 2%; in secondary schools the number of ‘F’s is up 7%; the number of students who failed one or more courses in the first six-weeks increased from 15% to 40% compared to one year ago. He said this is clear evidence that students are struggling in this new learning environment. He added the COVID slide anticipated from last spring’s school closures is showing up in the first round of MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing where math and English Language Arts are low. The MAP test is given three times per year to monitor student growth throughout the year. Dr. Muri stated without a great learning experience this year, kids will not hit the achievement marks set out for them.
D. Trustees talked about seeking high-capacity partner organizations to help improve middle school success, as well as establish a PK3 model to serve 3-year-old students beginning in August 2021. Texas Senate Bill 1882, which went into effect in 2017, encourages districts to use partnerships to improve student achievement with two distinct benefits: approved partnerships may receive additional state funding for the partnership school; and schools with an unacceptable accountability rating are eligible to receive a two-year exemption from specific accountability interventions. Partnerships can be innovation partners or turnaround partners. A PK3 innovation partner is needed to provide space to serve 3 year old students that our Early Education Centers do not have space to serve. Bonham Middle School is currently in its fifth year with an “F” rating. If Bonham maintains its F status, the District faces state intervention in the form of school closure and a board of managers for the school district. Due to those circumstances, ECISD is going to open the process to seek and rigorously vet potential middle school turnaround partners through a process called Call for Quality Schools. The application window will remain open into November. Applications will be reviewed in November with interviews with potential partners conducted in December. A PK3 innovation finalist and middle school turnaround finalist would be presented to the school board in January.
6. There was no closed session.
7. In brief closing remarks, Dr. Muri expressed deep and sincere gratitude to each and every member of the Odessa City Council, because while the school board was meeting the Council was, too, and voted to grant ECISD $850,000 of CARES Act money to help reimburse ECISD for student devices and MiFi hot spots. As part of this state program, TEA will match this reimbursement meaning $1.7 million in support for ECISD’s, and the community’s, efforts to help all students get connected to school.
8. The meeting adjourned at 8:07 p.m.