Superintendent's column:

By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
Aug. 5, 2017 at 3:12 p.m.

Robert Jaklich

Robert Jaklich   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Each and every day in the Victoria Independent School District, we work extremely hard to achieve the vision and the mission of our school district. By focusing on "Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day," we are committed to making our school district an extraordinary place to be - one student at a time.

In reviewing this year's preliminary accountability data, it is important to remember where we were, where we are, and most importantly, where we are going.

Throughout the last five years, we have decreased the number of "Improvement Required" campuses from 13 to two, and we are extremely confident our two remaining schools Patti Welder Middle School and Crain Elementary School will be off of the "Improvement Required" list by the end of this school year.

It is also important to note that we are truly making progress in the area of the "Transition Grades," specifically in students transitioning from fourth grade to fifth grade, seventh grade to eighth grade and eighth grade to ninth grade. In reviewing our preliminary scores for the past school year, we have experienced significant gains in these categories.

In regard to the fourth-grade to fifth-grade transition reading scores, we have experienced an increase of 7 percentage points, and in the area of math, we have experienced a gain of 18 percentage points. In the seventh- to eighth-grade transition reading scores, we have experienced an 18 percent gain, and the math transition scores confirm a 32 percentage point increase.

In comparing our eighth-grade students transitioning from the eighth-grade math STAAR test to the ninth-grade Algebra 1 End of Course exam (EOC), our students experienced a 2 percent increase, and when comparing our ninth-grade English I EOC exam to the English II EOC exam, our students exhibited an increase of 3 percent.

Furthermore, when comparing the eighth-grade science STAAR test to the ninth-grade End of Course exam for Biology, our students experienced a 21 percentage point increase, and in the transition from the eighth-grade social studies STAAR test to the ninth-grade End of Course exam for U.S. History, our students demonstrated a 35 percent increase in this area.

In VISD, we are committed to ensuring our students are ready to face their academic challenges well after graduating from high school. One of the most critical predictors of college success is an academically rigorous high school experience.

Currently our advanced academics program (AP) offers 23 advanced placement courses that are designed to provide our students with a curriculum that is at the depth and complexity level of current college courses.

Our 2017 AP exam results show that we are moving forward in both directions - improving both equity and access while also increasing the number and percentage of students who are successful on these exams.

We are also aware that passing the AP exam, while it does earn a student college credit, is not the only advantage of taking an AP course. Taking an AP course, even when a student does not pass the AP exam, has a significant impact on their persistence in college.

In 2015-16, we had 491 students take 927 AP exams, and just one year later, we have increased our enrollment to 611 students taking approximately 1,174 AP exams.

During this same time, the number of students scoring a 3 or higher on at least one exam increased from 18 percent to 30 percent, which is even more impressive given the increase in participation. It is also important to note, that VISD assumes the cost for these AP exams, eliminating any financial barrier for our students and families.

We also offer 56 dual-credit courses, allowing students to graduate from high school with numerous college hours while also receiving high school credit.

In a partnership between the Victoria College Education Foundation, Victoria College, the Victoria ISD Education Foundation and VISD, more students are now allowed the opportunity to earn college credits prior to graduation.

Studies have shown that students who participate in dual-credit enrollment are more likely to go to college, less likely to enroll in college remedial classes and more likely to earn a Bachelor's degree, than those students who have not participated in dual-credit opportunities.

This year, we had close to 400 students enrolled in dual-credit classes.

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 (CTE) programs, which prepare our students for career and college readiness endeavors.

We currently offer 60 CTE course opportunities, as well as nine practicum courses with internships. We also offer 13 local industry partnerships, five post-secondary partnerships. This past year, there were more than 150 VISD students enrolled in our Career Preparation programs and employed by local businesses.

Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire VISD, thank you for allowing us the possibility to dream big and to have the courage 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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