More training, observation among fixes for low performing campuses

Hays CISD Board of Trustees Monday approved a targeted improvement plan that’s meant to help address areas of low performance.

After a report showed bilingual/ESL and special education students were scoring lower on standardized tests than their peers, the district began drafting a TIP to better serve those students.

Performance Based Monitoring Analysis System (PBMAS) is an accountability system that monitors the programs receiving federal title funds, including special education, English Language Learners (ELL), and Career and Technology Education (CTE).

The annual PBMAS report stages each program’s success on a scale of 0 to 4, with zero being the best score. According to the 2015-2016 PBMAS report, Hays CISD’s special education program is in Stage 2, and ELL and CTE programs are in Stage 4.

Due to the PBMAS report, Hays CISD had to undergo a TEA audit and produce a comprehensive targeted improvement plan to increase performance rates.

Audit reveals district struggles to support bilingual, special education students

The approved targeted improvement plan focuses on improvement in special education, ELL and CTE.

The first goal for the ESL program is that students will achieve 10 percent growth on State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams, said Alejandro Góngora, director of bilingual, ESL and migrant programs.

“What we want to do is celebrate progress and not so much focus on a pass-or-fail measure,” Góngora said.

The second goal focuses on ensuring 70 percent of ESL students will graduate on the Recommended High School Program or Distinguished Achievement Program diploma plan.

Currently, 59.7 percent of ESL students are graduating on those diploma plans, Góngora said.

The goal for special education focuses on helping students achieve passing rates of at least 60 percent on the STAAR, said John Fuerst, executive director of special programs.

“We continue to have issues with the passing standard for the STAAR assessment,” Fuerst said.

In the plan, features include providing co-teach training, inclusion training, follow-up observations and feedback, Fuerst said.

The goal for CTE focuses on helping students who receive special education and ESL services score at the same level as their non-SPED/ESL peers on STAAR assessments.

CTE teachers are experts in their content areas, but may not have sufficient instructional training needed to meet the needs of all students, said Suzi Mitchell, director of CTE.

Teachers surveyed said they need assistance in differentiation education for special education and ESL students, Mitchell said. 

To improve these issues, the plan includes hiring full-time instructional coaches to work with teachers and the integrating of more of the core curriculum into CTE classes.

The PBMAS District Leadership Team, which consists of district administrators and teachers, met Jan. 12 to review the data that led to stage two and four scores. The committee submitted a draft targeted improvement plan based on the district improvement plan.

After the board of trustees directed administration to include more teachers and parents, the committee met Jan. 31 to revise the plan and include additional input from committee members.

Then, after the TEA’s visit from Feb. 6-10, the committee met again on Feb. 16 to review and revise the plan based upon suggestions and remarks from TEA and others.

The revised improvement plan was discussed at the Feb. 20 board of trustees meeting before its approval Feb. 27.

Additionally, the Hays CISD Board of Trustees approved the early hiring of five bilingual teachers who will be absorbed into campus allocations for the 2017-2018 school year.

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