Superintendent's column: Torres, test scores give VISD reason to celebrate
On Tuesday, the VISD had the honor and privilege to celebrate Torres Elementary School at our Fine Arts Center as it was named the No. 1 school in the nation by PepsiCo and the grand champion of the PepsiCo Recycling Rally. The Torres Tigers earned the top spot and an award of $25,000 by recycling almost 185,000 aluminum cans and plastic bottles over the course of the year. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation and congratulations to art teacher Kecia Garcia, Principal Sherry Gorsuch, the entire Torres Elementary School staff, the city of Victoria, Waste Management, the Victoria business community and the Torres community for their outstanding recycling efforts. We also would like to acknowledge all of the East High School Titan students, coaches and sponsors who formed an elaborate spirit line to cheer on all the Torres students and staff as they came off the buses and entered the Fine Arts Center. It was a magical moment for all to enjoy.
It has been said that in the winds of change, we can find our true direction. In regard to the Victoria Independent School District, this certainly holds true today. Twenty-three months ago, we began a mission to align our systems, to build relationships on trust and to focus on every student's unique potential. As we began the implementation of these strategies, we never lost sight of our commitment to quality. Zig Ziglar once stated: "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." Through the dedication of our amazing staff and by committing our resources and expertise to every child, every classroom, every day, we are definitely on the way to becoming the school district we aspire to be.
One of the new initiatives implemented this year include a seven-period bell schedule for all high school students and staff. This new schedule allowed for more consistency in our high schools, the opportunity to build stronger student-staff relationships and to close the achievement gap in learning. We have already experienced major dividends from this change. In regards to our first-time test takers in the five end-of-course exams, which are required by the state as part of our accountability ratings, our students showed tremendous progress. In the English 1 EOC, 64 percent of first-time test takers passed this exam. This is a 16-point improvement from last year. In the English 2 EOC, 64 percent of first-time test takers passed this exam. This is a seven-point improvement from last year. In the algebra 1 EOC, 80 percent of first-time test takers passed this exam. This is a 23-point improvement from last year. In the biology EOC, 94 percent of first-time test takers passed this exam. This is a 23-point improvement from last year. In the U.S. history EOC, we are proud to state that 90 percent of first-time test takers passed this exam. Since this is the first year of this exam, we have no previous scores to compare them to. We are also proud to state that our high school graduation rate has increased 2 percent from the previous year. As you can see, this is a tremendous accomplishment and could not have occurred without the commitment, dedication and sacrifices of our outstanding VISD teachers, administrators and staff. We extend our utmost gratitude to these individuals for their positive attitudes, their willingness to make a difference and their commitment to serve as a champion for our children. As a school district, we will continue to improve our instructional delivery and work diligently to uphold our community's belief in us.
In the Victoria ISD, we believe that nothing great can be created suddenly, and we truly appreciate the commitment and dedication of our outstanding employees. By working together, we will continue to plan, cultivate and create a system of excellence across our 612 square miles. On behalf of our Board of Trustees and the entire VISD, thank you for reminding us that progress always involves risks and that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.