Dr. Quintin Shepherd

Dr. Quintin Shepherd

For years I have been saying that my ideal school district would be one that guarantees to a parent (and community member) that 100 percent of our students will have a “successful launch.” These are the words I have used over and over countless times. I have said “successful launch” to just about everybody who will listen. Most people understand what this means. Almost every parent knows every student is only at a slightly different trajectory out of high school. Maybe the students are going to the military or maybe community college. Maybe they head to university or off to work. Regardless, we want our students to have a plan starting the day after graduation, which would indicate a successful launch. Parents want to put their students in a school system that will guarantee a successful launch. Businesses want to open in a community where the schools are strong.

During this past year at Victoria ISD, we have also been starting conversations about creating dashboards for our trustees and community that would let everyone know how we are doing on our major initiatives. Think of a dashboard in education like the dashboard of your car. It is not designed to give you detailed information about everything happening under the hood but a report of the most important pieces of information you should be interested in. We have looked at some sample dashboards during this past year and have started talking about information we should keep in front of our community showing how we are doing. We still have a long way to go before we have a dashboard to present, but this idea of a successful launch has been on my mind for several months. How could we build a VISD dashboard to show our community how we are doing when it comes to launching out students after graduation?

As our Victoria ISD students were walking the graduation stages this year, a simple word popped into my mind as a way to measure our launch rate. I began to wonder how many of our students were walking the stage with a diploma and something else. As an example, how many had a diploma and a college acceptance letter? How many had a diploma and a military enlistment? Maybe they had a diploma and industry certifications showing they are ready for work. Some of our students had a diploma and an associate degree.

I think we can all agree a high school diploma isn’t enough to guarantee a successful launch, and I want that guarantee for all kids. This is a goal our schools and community can get behind. This is a goal UHV can support. This is a goal Victoria College can support. This is a goal that touches every business and industry in our community.

Like any good health care visit, we start with a checkup to establish a baseline. Here are some important figures:

1. We had 857 graduates

2. 448 graduates had a college acceptance letter (52 percent)

3. 13 graduates had an associate degree (1.5 percent)

4. 116 graduates had various industry certifications (13.5 percent)

5. 67 graduates had military enlistments (8 percent)

6. Our “and” total is 644 students (75.15 percent)

During the past few weeks, I have started a conversation with our Administrative Teams at the high school level to talk about ways we can begin to make “and” our priority for all students. I have also started conversations with Drs. Hinds and Glenn of Victoria College and UHV. I am excited to share more with you about our forthcoming P-TECH efforts in the next several weeks as well.

Our schools are good, and they will be even better with your support. As we embrace this goal, it is going to take the help of a lot of people. This is truly a community-wide effort and reaches far beyond high school, in both directions. I will be coming back to this idea in the next several weeks as part of a series, so stay tuned for more information.

Dr. Shepherd is the superintendent of the Victoria Independent School District.

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