Mineola elementary campuses roll out plans to improve state standards score

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After receiving an F campus accountability rating from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Mineola elementary and primary schools have adopted a new focus, “No one goes backwards.”

The score of 58 was exclusively derived from STAAR testing last year. The accountability through TEA can be very confusing and may give people the impression the school isn’t doing what its supposed to be doing, but Jennifer Knipp, director of curriculum and Instruction, knows differently.

“The accountability system is not the greatest system to judge our students on, but it is what it is. It does not reflect how or what our teachers teach. It does not reflect what our students know and can do. But it does cause us to get down to the nitty-gritty about the gaps we need to address. We know we will not be in this position next year,” said Knipp. 

Even with the low campus accountability score, MISD showed gains over the past three years, and the district overall earned a B accountability rating from TEA. 

“We have lots of celebrations, and I hope everyone keeps that in mind. We’re going to take care of this. We have great teachers and great kids and we’re going to keep growing,” encouraged Knipp.

Knipp, along with Principals Stacy Morris and Jole Ray, have done a school self-assessment and have put together a targeted improvement plan based on the state’s Effective School Framework. They will be focusing on three specific areas of improvement, and will be getting help and site visits from TEA and Region 7 Education Service Center (ESC) to carry out the new objectives. 

The three focus areas include aligning curriculum and assessments at the rigor of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, developing data driven instruction for each student, and developing campus instructional leaders with clear roles and responsibilities.

Elementary school principal Morris spoke on the training they recently received through TEA.

“The process has allowed us to deepen our thinking and flesh things out a whole lot more. I feel extremely confident,” said Morris.

She broke down the three levers into more detail and spoke on how the school will use each student’s data from the assessments and tests to individualize plans to meet their specific needs. Every student is tracked on their math and reading performance, and the data is used to build tier groups. All kids at the elementary school are being placed in WIN (what I need) groups for interventions or further instruction. The principal and assistant principal will be completing five walk-throughs per week to directly observe WIN time. 

The elementary school is going to be breaking the old traditions of after school programs and who they service by having after school programs in the fall and the spring. 

“In the fall, we will be targeting kids that are on the high end and we need to pull further,” said Morris. Parents should not be alarmed when they get a letter from the school inviting their child to tutoring. The plan is to help children who already approach or meet grade level grow to mastery. Struggling learners will be offered after school intervention in the spring after they’ve had more instructional time through the fall. 

The elementary school will be administering the state interim assessment in November in math.  In February, they will administer the second round of state interim assessments. Those will determine which students get after school intervention in the spring. Those kids have also been getting intervention in the school day already. They will end the year looking at selection criteria for those students who may need summer support. 

Morris also talked about partnering more with teachers and developing leaders who take a full and active role on campus. Team leaders will be the first line of help for teachers needing extra support.

“Administration and principals can do visionary work, but teachers really put the feet to the vision,” she said.

Primary Principal Ray spoke highly of the school’s teachers. “They work hard and play hard and celebrate each growth. At the end of the day, we’re looking at each and every kid. Nobody is afraid to get in and get dirty. We’re gonna work!”

MISD board president John Abbott piggybacked on her words when he spoke to the teachers, “With the teacher shortage, you didn’t have to stay here. You knew what was going to be expected this year. You knew this was going to be a rough year. We’re glad you’re here and that you’ve stepped up and taken this role. We are here to help and support.”

Parent involvement is always encouraged. In October, parent/teacher conferences will be scheduled. This is a great time to discuss each student’s progress and their individual plan. Parents can access their child’s STAAR test results online anytime, and can always contact their child’s teacher with any concern or question.

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