District to negotiate partnership with Acceleration Academies

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A partnership with Acceleration Academies to find dropouts and bring them back into the system was approved by Ector County ISD trustees at their meeting Tuesday.

Contract negotiations have not yet started on the Acceleration Academies.

Principals for three elementary schools and an executive director of leadership were approved for hiring.

Mark Graves, president of Acceleration Academies, said the firm is in four states currently. They have a geo map of Odessa to determine the best site selection.

Plans would be to hire 10 to 12 highly qualified Texas staff members to lead the academy; identify and build out a store front using the Edmentum curriculum; recruit a list of eligible students; operate the program using its proprietary technology platform; and report data to the district.

Graves and Superintendent Scott Muri said there is an opportunity to bring more than 2,300 students back into ECISD.

What’s next, Graves said, would be to gain approval from the board; negotiate the contract; and hire the Ector County Accelerate Academy team.

Graves said Acceleration Academies hope to launch in September or October and enroll 200-plus students per year.

Assistant Superintendent of School and Student Support Alicia Syverson said these students are included in ECISD and enrolled at their home campus, but they would receive all their support at the Acceleration Academies.

The district would be able to provide meals to the students.

Graves said the company has worked in four states with districts of varying size. The largest are in Clark County, Nevada, and Miami-Dade County, Fla.

Graves said engagement coaches will be hired to go door to door.

By and large, he said, the students  served are over age and under credited, but under age 21.

Generally speaking, he said, the academies would be open 10 to 12 hours a day and on weekends and remote via Zoom.

The board also approved purchasing a software platform to improve attendance rates.

ECISD will recover a percentage of lost average daily attendance generated through the dropout recovery efforts through revenue sharing.

The district plans to partner with Kinvolved Inc.’s KiNVO software system. The KiNVO Attendance Improvement Software is a comprehensive program designed to improve student attendance.

The premium renewal cost is $238,341 annually.

Syverson said a portable has been added at the Community Outreach Center to serve students in credit recovery.

Syverson said the Community Outreach Center was never intended to be a dropout recovery program, but it has been handling that.

Syverson said there also is optional flexible school day Program (OFSDP) allows districts to provide flexible hours and days of attendance for students who meet at least one of the requirements of the Texas Education Code §29.0822(a). The goal of the program is to improve graduation rates for students who are in danger of dropping out of school, have dropped out, or are behind in core subject courses, the Texas Education Agency website said.

Staci Ashley said teachers have been reassigned to Bowie Middle School beginning in the fall, Bowie Middle School and Burnet Elementary will be part of Ector County ISD’s RISE initiative.

RISE, which stands for Rapidly Improving School Effectiveness, is based on Dallas ISD’s ACE program. Because it has been successful, ACE (Accelerating School Excellence) has been contracted out to other districts.

Muri presented spring 2021 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness results. He said the board was going to see “significant loss tonight.”

However, he said the district narrowed the gap with the state in 16 of 22 tested areas.

“Our kids really struggled mightily in our state and community,” Muri said.

When they looked at reading and math Measure of Academic Progress results, they saw students studying with reading, but growing in math.

“Tonight we’re looking at proficiency; proficiency follows growth,” Muri said.

On a separate item, trustees approved hiring:

>> Keeley Simpson, executive director of leadership. Simpson served as a Regional Superintendent in Portland Public Schools for the past three years, overseeing a region of 35 schools.

Before that, she was Houston ISD’s School Support Officer, a middle school principal, high school assistant principal and high school teacher.

>> Rosa Cruz as Burleson Elementary principal. She most recently worked as a curriculum instructor at the collegiate level. She has six years of experience as a principal, five years as an assistant principal, and 11 total years of teaching experience – nine in public school and two as a college instructor.

>> Beatrice Martinez, Cavazos Elementary principal. She comes to ECISD from Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District where she was the principal at Anthon Elementary School. That is part of her 14 years of administrative experience as both an assistant principal and principal in addition to seven years of teaching experience.

>> Nora Gonzalez, West Elementary principal. She was the assistant principal at Goliad Elementary for the past two years, as well as a bilingual and lead teacher here in ECISD since 2009.