Superintendent's column: Commitment to quality throughout district

By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
April 15, 2017 at 4:12 p.m.

Robert Jaklich

Robert Jaklich   PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY VISD for The Victoria Advocate

Each and every day, our employees work extremely hard to accomplish the mission of our school district, "Achieving Excellence for All." In our quest for excellence in education, we must continue to redefine strategies that will enable us to reach new heights while maintaining our focus on "Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day." We are proud to be named as a Texas Education Agency "District of Innovation," and we are currently designing our educational strategies to align and support improved instruction, evaluate student performance and improve professional development opportunities.

Throughout this process, our conversations must continuously involve quality: a quality learning environment, quality instruction and quality opportunities for all students and staff.

Listed below for your review are a few examples that indicate our commitment to quality:

We have once again earned a Texas Education Agency rating of "Met Standard," and 22 of our 24 VISD campuses that fall under this accountability system were also rated "Met Standard." During the last three years, we have experienced tremendous growth in the special recognition of Distinction Designations, and this year we are proud to state that we have 11 Distinction Designation Campuses that earned a total of 22 Distinction Designations.

We are also one of 26 high-performing school districts across the state that has been invited to apply for The Holdsworth Center, which is an educational leadership institute with the goal of supporting and developing public school leaders in order to improve the quality of education offered to every child in every classroom in Texas. We have made the final round of the selection process and hosted our site visit April 10.

The Holdsworth Center will operate as a nonprofit organization and is founded and fully supported by H-E-B CEO Charles Butt, who is investing more than $100 million to create sustainable improvement in public schools. According to a 2010 Rainwater Leadership Alliance Report, to dramatically improve our nation's public schools, we must focus on the essential role of school leaders. While teacher quality is the single most important factor influencing student achievement, strong principals are also key to teacher development and retention. In fact, teachers account for 33 percent of a school's impact on student success, with the principal accounting for 25 percent.

The first six school districts selected for this cohort are by invitation only, with the Holdsworth Center covering all the costs. The criteria for selection are based on the district and board leadership teams being recognized as dynamic transformational entities. This is a true compliment to VISD.

Additionally, out of 1,000-plus school districts in the state, we are currently one of 5 that have been selected as a 2017 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award Finalist for the number one Early Childhood Education program in Texas. The top award winner will be decided May 7.

We have successfully implemented the House Bill 5 graduation requirements and are proud to state that VISD students have the opportunity to graduate under all five HB 5 endorsements: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Business and Industry; Public Services; Arts and Humanities and Multidisciplinary Studies.

Currently, we offer 23 AP courses that are designed to provide our students with a curriculum that is at the depth and complexity level of college courses. In 2015-2016, we had 491 students take 927 AP exams. This year, we are proud to state that we have significantly increased the number of students enrolled in AP courses to 752, and these students will take approximately 1,200 AP exams with VISD covering the cost of all AP exams. We have also increased the number of high school and middle school students enrolled in Pre-AP classes as well.

VISD offers 56 dual credit courses, allowing students to graduate from high school with numerous college hours. Both Victoria East and Victoria West high schools have full-time career and college coaches on campus to provide support services with scholarships, financial aid, college applications, dual credit registration, university visits and college exams.

Furthermore, at our Liberty Academy Early College Center, 23 out of 30 seniors will be graduating from college with an associate degree before they receive their high school diploma. And seven of these 23 students will be receiving two associate degrees.

Another example of our commitment to develop our students to reach their maximum potential can be found in our high school Career and Technical Education programs, which prepare our students for career and college readiness endeavors. We currently offer 65 CTE course opportunities, including 9 practicum courses with internships. We also offer 17 local industry partnership and four post-secondary partnerships and have over 200 students enrolled and employed in our Career Preparation programs.

Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." As you can see, with regard to VISD, our future is exceptionally bright. We are extremely appreciative to our amazing teachers, administrators, VISD staff, community members, college representatives, military branches, local organizations and our Board of Trustees for supporting our students in their efforts to dream big and for providing the resources to make those dreams come true.

We are "VISD Proud."

Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.


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