Education Partnership hashes out objectives

Pathways to improving outcomes throughout a student’s educational life and ways of continuously attacking them were hashed out during an Education Partnership of the Permian Basin meeting.

Adrian Vega, a member of the executive board, showed the group an Educate Texas model that could be adopted and adapted. The partnership also discussed forming action networks to take on recruitment and retention of teachers.

The action networks will be discussed further at the next meeting June 19.

Educate Texas has been employed in Midland under the name Educate Midland.

Its website says Educate Texas, an educational initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, partners with public and private entities to achieve large-scale change to transform the Texas public and higher education systems so every student is successful in school, the workforce and life, its website said.

Under the meeting formats, members are divided into various tables to discuss issues and then share what they think.

ECISD is facing a challenge with academic underperformance. During the last five years, an executive summary said, ECISD has underperformed the state in every subject and every grade level.

There are strong schools and teachers at the elementary level, the summary said, but performances vary widely. A handful of campuses consistently score far above average while the lowest performing schools struggle to achieve a 35 to 40 percent passing rate on the STAAR test.

Middle school performance is particularly unfavorable with underperformance seen across campuses. A significant decrease in performance was seen following the move of sixth grade to the middle schools.

Algebra I scores show there are bright spots at each school, but all students need to be reached, the summary stated.

Initially, the markers discussed at the meeting, held in the Complex Community Federal Credit Union Training Room, ranged from kindergarten readiness and early reading to postsecondary degree completion. They were adjusted at Tuesday’s gathering, and will still be tweaked.

Superintendent Tom Crowe said the issues will be attacked on multiple fronts, not just one at a time in sequence.

Originally, the continuum included kindergarten readiness, early grade reading, middle grade math, high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment and post-secondary degree completion.

Added before kindergarten readiness were family literacy and making education a priority in the community, science, technology, engineering and math, postsecondary enrollment and completion and community involvement.

Vega said reading on grade level in third grade correlates with high school graduation rates and algebra I is a predictor of success in college.

Those attending said there has to be a culture where education is valued and youngsters have to encourage each other to do better in school if they’re struggling.

Vega said the leadership team’s role is to “create and cast a vision.” The group has to figure out what issues it wants to address with directional guidance from the leadership team.

“As a leadership team we want to focus on improving education outcomes from cradle to career,” Vega said.

Medical Center Health System President and CEO Rick Napper said he doesn’t think the community is ready to educate youngsters.

“We always look at the negative,” Napper said.

However, Odessa College Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness Don Wood said Ector County Independent School District had some double-digit gains in recent early STAAR results, so they did get some good news recently.

Wood said successes should be built on and he said students from ECISD have been successful at OC.

Lorraine Perryman, chair of the Education Partnership Executive Board, said her table agreed that the continuum was great, but there are areas like teacher recruitment and retention that need to be solved.

She said the action networks that will be formed can handle nuts and bolts. Under teacher recruitment and retention, could be affordable housing, Perryman said.

Perryman added that there should be an action network for facilities and facility needs. She said that should be ongoing because projections are that the community is going to continue growing for the next 20 years.

She added that a bond committee for the school district is looking at demographics and facility needs right now.

“That’s something our whole community should be involved with all the time,” so facilities keep up with educational needs, Perryman said.

Napper said when considering cradle to career, he thinks daycare and informatics, like youngster’s aptitude with iPhones should be used.

ECISD Board of Trustees President Carol Gregg said the way young mothers and children interact is not the same as when she was raising children.

The district currently offers prekindergarten at Carver and Lamar early education centers. Blanton and Murry Fly elementary schools have half day units; Milam Elementary, Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy, Austin Montessori Magnet, Cameron Dual Language Magnet and Hays STEAM Academy all have full-day pre-k.

Because Zavala and Noel elementary are both in their fifth year of improvement required status under state accountability standards, ECISD must have a plan in place to close or repurpose them if they do not get out of IR. Both campuses will offer prekindergarten in the fall.

Lamar Principal Martha Mitchell said she has about 630 students and Carver has pretty close to the same number. Prekindergarten is half a day at the centers and every child in Ector County is eligible for it. There is currently a waiting list of 150 plus for prekindergarten, Crowe said.

The superintendent added that daycare teachers will be invited to participate in staff development training with ECISD teachers.

“Our pre-k centers do a fantastic job of getting kids ready” for kindergarten, Crowe said.

Businessman Roy Gillean said youngsters need to be taught how to be good parents and adults have to lead by example. He added that some may be parents too early and some may be parents now.

Mike Mills, program director of Educate Midland, said they have started a campaign centered on parents being their child’s first teacher.

Just The Facts
  • The Education Partnership includes a cross-section of city leaders representing various entities across the community — including members from the education, business, nonprofit, and religious communities.
  • Its goal is to encourage a common understanding of the educational issues and challenges facing our community, from cradle to career, and to work collaboratively to help solve these issues, using the Collective Impact model. The Collective Impact model is based on a “framework that focuses on bringing members from different sectors within a community together to drive large scale social change,” such as education, a news release said.
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