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Waco ISD Celebrates Dramatic Transformation

Comparison of 2017 & 2018 Accountability Ratings

In state academic accountability ratings for 2018, Waco ISD received a “C,” and all but one of Waco ISD’s schools were rated “Met Standard.” Last year, six Waco ISD schools were rated “Improvement Required.”

This is the first time that districts were rated on an A through F scale. Campuses received ratings of met standard or improvement required. Barring legislative changes, campuses will also be rated on an A through F scale starting next year.

At the start of the last school year, Waco ISD leaders received a letter from the Texas Education Agency warning that five schools, which had failed to meet state accountability ratings for five or more years in a row, could face closure if they failed again. Those campuses were Alta Vista Elementary, Brook Avenue Elementary, J.H. Hines Elementary, G.W. Carver Middle and Indian Spring Middle. In addition, Crestview Elementary was rated Improvement Required for the second consecutive year in 2017.

One year later, Alta Vista Elementary, Crestview Elementary, J.H. Hines Elementary, G.W. Carver Middle and Indian Spring Middle have made it off of the Improvement Required list.

“This is evidence that we’re on the right track,” superintendent Marcus Nelson said. “In one year, Waco ISD has gone from the state classifying one-quarter of our schools as underperforming to just one campus in that situation. We’re going to celebrate this progress, but we’re not about to be satisfied with it. I won’t rest until every campus meets state standards and every student in every neighborhood in our city receives a world-class education.”

Waco ISD schools also earned 21 distinctions up from 12 in 2017. A total of ten campuses received at least one distinction with five campuses earning multiple distinctions. That includes Tennyson Middle, which received six of seven available distinctions: academic achievement in English Language Arts/reading, academic achievement in math, academic achievement in science, post-secondary readiness, top 25 percent in their comparison group for academic growth and top 25 percent in their comparison group for closing performance gaps.

Nelson just completed his first year in Waco ISD. He previously was the superintendent in Laredo ISD where he led a similar transformation taking the district from nine under-performing schools to none. The Texas Association of School Boards named Nelson the 2014 Superintendent of the Year.

“Turning around underperforming campuses is a team effort,” board president Pat Atkins said. “Classroom teachers, principals, instructional specialists all have important roles to play, but leadership matters. After one year in Waco, our community can see why Dr. Nelson is recognized as one of the best instructional leaders in our state. Our work is far from done, but we already have so much to celebrate.”

Nelson said, “This is deeply personal for me. As a kid growing up in a poor neighborhood on the northeast side of San Antonio, public education made all the difference in my life. As we move forward, we are focusing relentlessly on student learning and demanding excellence from every Waco ISD employee all day, every day. Our kids deserve nothing less.”