• December 10, 2019

Middle school redesign going well so far - Odessa American: Community

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Middle school redesign going well so far

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Posted: Saturday, October 19, 2019 8:15 am

Middle school principals and top Ector County ISD officials met Friday to get a status report on how the middle school redesign is going following the first quarter of school.

Principals talked about how the implementation has gone, whether it was being implemented correctly, whether students and teachers are being reached as intended and what adjustments, if any, need to be made.

The redesign started last spring. Under the A-F state accountability rating system, every middle school campus, except Nimitz, got an F grade under state accountability standards. Nimitz got a D.

The redesign includes 90-minute blocks for English language arts and math, a common conference period for science and social studies teacher, providing authentic learning experiences through PICK Education and regular professional learning community meetings with teachers and instructional specialists and/or administrators facilitating the conversation.

English language arts secondary coordinator Elisha Vega said teachers need to be coached on how to use those 90-minute blocks effectively.

Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School Principal Anthony Garcia said the 90-minute blocks mean students have fewer teachers to switch between and behavior issues have declined.

Teachers are getting used to having that professional learning community time, as well, officials said.

Garcia said professional learning community time is scheduled every day.

Garcia said some teachers didn’t seem to be taking the PLCs seriously, so he added up the dollar amount would cost for a year and said they could find themselves with another class with 30 students if they didn’t want to stay with it.

Garcia said he let teachers know it is not a free period. Overall, though, Garcia said it has been beneficial and by this time next year, through retention, “we’re rolling.”

Roberto Cedillo, an executive director of secondary education, said the intention of professional learning communities is to support the teachers and to build effectiveness, so they feel effective going into the classroom.

“If it’s learning the curriculum, or understanding what they’re supposed to be teaching, studying the data, studying the assessments, what’s working, what’s not working, learning from each other, it’s a big piece,” Cedillo said.

It is also a chance for veteran teachers to share their experiences, thoughts and practices with the new teachers.

Having administrators and instructional specialists on hand facilitating those conversations helps ensure they are productive conversations, Cedillo said.

“The PLC process is a process and you have to follow the process, so the instructional specialist (and/or) administrator is there to keep that process moving,” he said.

Attendance continues to be an issue.

Year to date, Bonham has 95 percent attendance compared to 95.3 percent last year.

Bowie had 94.2 percent attendance this year compared to 95 percent last year.

Crockett was at 95.3 percent this year and 95.6 percent last year.

Wilson & Young was at 95.6 percent this year and 95.7 percent last year.

Nimitz was at 95.7 percent this year and 96 percent last year.

As of Oct. 4, Bonham has 1,088 students; Bowie, 1,230; Crockett, 1,145; Wilson & Young, 1,156 and Nimitz, 1,448.

Amy Anderson, district director for AVID, the college preparation program, said overall in seventh and eighth grade last year, they served 12 percent of students in the elective course.

This year, 14 percent of students are being served in seventh and eighth grade. Broken down, 19 percent of seventh graders were served last year and that is up to 20 percent this year.

Seventeen percent of eighth graders were served last year and that is up to 21 percent this year.

Cedillo said more participation in PICK Education, AVID Excel for English learners, the ACCESS program, social-emotional support and attendance need to be revisited.

PICK Education is an initiative of the ECISD Innovation Department that uses hands-on professional development for teachers and brings real-world science and research projects to students.

ACCESS is a program that hopes to engage students in career possibilities beyond the oilfield to fields such as healthcare, manufacturing service and nonprofit sectors.

“This was at the end of the first quarter of the school year to see where we are. That way we have enough time to make adjustments. Then, obviously, next steps once the school year is over what does the data tell us?” Cedillo said.

Another Youth Truth Survey will be conducted in late November-early December for all secondary campuses. 

“Hopefully it will show improvements from the data last year to this year,” Cedillo said.

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