• December 15, 2019

ECISD board hears reports on teacher shortage, accountability - Odessa American: News

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ECISD board hears reports on teacher shortage, accountability

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Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 8:57 pm

Ector County Independent School District currently has 349 teacher vacancies so Superintendent Scott Muri and Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard told board members how the shortage is being handled currently.

Howard said it’s not so much that a lot of teachers leave every year, but that the numbers compound.

Muri said it is unacceptable for students to arrive on the first day of school to an empty classroom.

He said Howard and top district officials began working on plans last year to handle the anticipated openings.

Howard said the district began working on a secondary staffing plan in June so principals could have a menu of options and pick what would work best for their campuses.

Using more of the available state teacher permits and recruiting from Jamaica, the Philippines and Canada have been used to help the teacher shortage, Howard said.

The district is also using a variety of efforts to grow its own teachers.

Some of the options included adding more students to classes, offering enhanced conference periods, zero period, long-term substitutes, Odysseyware online learning and Proximity Learning, which offers virtual teachers and online learning.

Teachers can receive extra money if they take on extra students or sections. 

It was used at Permian and Odessa high schools last year and is being used at the middle schools this year, Howard said. Howard said there is a qualified adult in every classroom with the online options.

Board member Delma Abalos said she would like a report on whether students are passing the online courses.

Howard said the district has tried to avoid using online options in tested areas where possible. She said there is Proximity for AVID as well.

On the accountability ratings, Muri said for every elementary and middle school the only measurement was the STAAR test.

This is the first year districts and campuses have been given letter grades by the Texas Education Agency. Last year, districts received letter grades and a “what if” list was sent out for campuses, but it wasn’t official.

This year, it was official.

ECISD had 16 failing schools out of 43 campuses. The district overall got a C grade. ECISD got a D last year.

Muri said elementary and middle schools were graded on STAAR scores while high schools had college, career and military readiness added.

In conversations with TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, Muri said the ratings are a work in progress. Muri said he thinks Morath wants the ratings to be more than the STAAR test for elementary and middle schools.

Muri said at next month’s board meeting, officials will take a deeper dive into the data for each campus.

Abalos said Bonham Middle School being in its fourth year of low performance is a concern. As with Ector College Prep Success Academy before it became an in-district charter school), the school needs to be asked what it needs.

Supplemental agenda material said state law mandates that if one school within a district makes a failing grade for five consecutive years, mandatory state sanctions are triggered which includes that the TEA replace the district's locally elected school board with state appointees or close the struggling school.

Howard outlined a variety of training and foci for leaders and principals. ECISD is also working on a middle school redesign.

Muri said there are pockets of good things happening all over the district and the items Howard reviewed are all investments in the district’s personnel.

Following a question from a board member, Muri said Ector College Prep Success Academy would be included in future reports. It is an in-district charter school and received an F in accountability ratings.

Muri said although there is a contract that defines the relationship between ECISD and Ector, Muri said he will stay involved.

Odessa, TX

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