Two Hays schools need improvement: District forming plan to make changes

Below grade state accountability ratings for two Hays CISD campuses is forcing district officials to start the planning process on how to improve them.

Science Hall and Hemphill elementary schools were both listed as “Improvement Required,” according to the 2017 Texas Education Agency accountability reports, which were released earlier this summer.

TEA’s accountability report gives ratings to districts and individual campuses based on four factors that “combine a range of indicators into a comprehensive measure of performance,” according to the 2017 TEA accountability manual.

The report combines State of Texas Assessment for Academic Readiness (STAAR) assessments, graduation rates, rates of students completing the various plans and other indicators.

Hemphill Elementary, which was designated as an IR campus for the second straight year, missed the mark on three of the four indexes measured.

Science Hall missed the mark on only two of the four indexes. It marks the first time Science Hall was listed as IR. All other Hays CISD campuses were rated as “Met Standard.”

Tim Savoy, Hays CISD public information officer, said the district has been working since June on comprehensive district and campus improvement plans to address areas of attention. The district is also seeking additional resources for both campuses during the budgeting process, which could include additional instructional coaches and interventionists at the campus.

Hays CISD will also work closely with TEA and the Region 13 Educational Service Center to provide additional support.

Alejandro Gongora, Hays CISD assistant superintendent of schools, said one of the first things the district will try to accomplish is identifying a professional service provider for each campus.

The PSP would provide assistance and oversight to “build capacity” of each campus, and help teachers and staff know more about the Texas Accountability Intervention System (TAIS).

Gongora said the district is trying to “get ahead of that process” and has a team consisting of campus leadership personnel who will help identify that PSP.

In addition, the district will also develop a specific Campus Improvement Plan (CIP) that identifies what areas must be addressed for improvement. Hays CISD trustees will discuss the plan further on Aug. 31, but no formal date has been set for the plan’s implementation.

Even so, Gongora said fine tuning the planning process and focusing on core subject instruction are areas to improve across all district elementary schools. He also cited campus climate and culture, with the ability to boost morale. 

Esperanza Orosco, Hays CISD District 5 who spoke on her own behalf, said she hopes the district learns from issues it had while crafting a CIP for Hemphill last year. Orosco said trustees had little time to see the plan before they are asked to adopt it. She then found “deficiencies” in the plan after it was approved.

Orosco said improving campus climate and culture are key components to improvement.

Merideth Keller, Hays CISD board president, said the district must take a step back from the “blame game” on teachers. However, Keller said she wasn’t surprised to see Hemphill fall below standard.

“It’s sad and it makes me sad. But I feel confident in our team and confident in our superintendent, she’s a go-getter and can make things happen,” Keller said.

See Hays CISD’s performance charts here.

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