Improvement plan approved in response to Tom Green low scores

Focusing student accountability and streamlining teaching methods are two ways Hays CISD is aiming to take Tom Green Elementary out of its current Improvement Required (IR) status.

Those methods are part of the district’s Targeted Improvement Plan (TIP) for Tom Green, which was approved Sept. 24 by the Hays CISD Board of Trustees. The TIP outlines ways educators at the campus can improve reading and writing, math and science scores by the end of the academic year.

In August, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) labeled Tom Green as the only IR campus in HCISD.

In 2016, Science Hall and Hemphill Elementary Schools were labeled IR after students scored poorly on the State of Texas Assessment for Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams.

Science Hall and Hemphill both improved their scores during the 2017-18 school year after receiving aid from a consultant and following its own TIP.

The TIP outlines short-term and long-term strategies Tom Green principal Jennifer Hanna said she and her teachers have already begun to implement.

Hanna was hired in July before the district received the IR score. Hanna came from Del Valle ISD and said she had never worked at an IR school, but feels prepared to take on the challenge.

“We’re making sure that we’re really monitoring student growth,” Hanna said. “We’re not adding more to teacher’s schedules – we’re just being more purposeful.”

Teachers met during Professional Learning Communities meetings intermittently to discuss teaching techniques, schedules and assignments. In an effort to improve, PLC meetings are now held weekly. Hanna said those PLC meetings helped her previous district and should be expected to make a difference in the learning content and schedule at Tom Green.

“We are really going to take a close look at student growth,” Hanna said. “Teachers are monitoring with their students closely, to make sure students are aware of how they’re doing, teachers are aware of how they’re doing and parents are aware of how they’re doing.”

Students now keep track of their grades and projects in binders they can share with their teachers and parents. The method is being used to allow students to be aware of their efforts and their progress as the school year continues.

Tim Savoy, HCISD chief communications officer, said the plan allows for teachers to target struggling students and make time to help them during class.

“Standardized testing, in general, measures the performance of a school on one day,” Savoy said. “Just because a school is an IR doesn’t mean your child is getting any less of an education or is not getting great individual help from their teacher.”

Officials said the school is expected to break through its IR rating by the end of the academic year after the next round of state-issued standardized tests.

The district reports that officials received concerns from parents after releasing a letter detailing the score and its impact.

While district officials believe some may have moved out of district after receiving the notice, Savoy said the rating should not label a school and encourages parents to get involved by communicating with district officials.

According to the approved TIP, 70 percent of all students in third, fourth and fifth grade will improve and approach their grade level requirements in reading, writing, math and science. Roughly 12 percent of all students are expected to master their grade level requirements, as per the TIP.

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