Ramsey: MISD Is optimistic for the Aug. 15 school ratings

Superintendent: "I feel comfortable that we have exited several ‘D’- and ‘F’-rated schools and will have more ‘A’ and ‘B’ schools than MISD has ever had under the current accountability system.”

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MISD Superintendent Angelica Ramsey speaks 11/10/2021 during the 2021 State of Education luncheon at the Bush Convention Center. Tim Fischer/Reporter-Telegram
MISD Superintendent Angelica Ramsey speaks 11/10/2021 during the 2021 State of Education luncheon at the Bush Convention Center. Tim Fischer/Reporter-TelegramTim Fischer/Midland Reporter-Telegram

Midland ISD reported this week improvement on the state’s accountability test – STAAR.

The first round of information showed academic performance growth, including the number of number of times that students in grades 3-8 surpassed 70 percent passage (from one time in 2021 to nine times this year).

Also shown was a clear dominance over Ector County Independent School District and MISD’s elementary students outperforming the state on math tests.

The announcement of preliminary STAAR results followed internal metrics that showed the district demonstrating an improvement not experienced in around five years.

“We are optimistic for the Aug. 15 school ratings that will come out,” MISD Superintendent Angelica Ramsey wrote. “While we cannot yet accurately predict letter grades, the growth we are seeing across the school district shows the progress being made citywide. Based on this, I feel comfortable that we have exited several ‘D’- and ‘F’-rated schools and will have more ‘A’ and ‘B’ schools than MISD has ever had under the current accountability system.”

Ramsey took time this week to provide more analysis of the STAAR results and what she expects as her second full academic year approaches. Here is a question-and-answer with the superintendent.

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Reporter-Telegram: What did the first round of STAAR results mean to you? What did it tell you about the process put into place since your arrival?

Ramsey: Our preliminary data is a testament to the hard work our teachers, staff and leaders have put in this year. The charge from our board and community has been clear since the beginning -- make the advancement of student achievement the most important priority. Our results show that we listen to our stakeholders and quickly put plans into action. Year one has demonstrated that we are on the right track but have a tremendous amount of work still to do.

Reporter-Telegram: Is it accurate to say that you made learning at the elementary level more uniform (everyone going in the same direction) and – if so – why does that translate into greater academic achievement?

Ramsey: An important refrain heard during my stakeholder engagement sessions in the spring of 2021 was the lack of coherence across our school district. Teachers asked for several things to help them be more successful in the classroom, including districtwide professional development, a consistent work day schedule, dedicated supports at each campus and the building of capacity of school leaders. We strengthened professional learning community (PLC) training for teachers and provided coaching support for school leaders to be the lead learners on their campuses. 

Coherent systems allow us to work individually on common goals, have the same language for success and areas of improvement and allow the district to design supports in an explicit manner all centered around learning. I am very excited about the strategic plan we are taking to our school board later this month. It is the result of almost a year of listening to our stakeholders, planning, and specific strategic actions to propel MISD to the next level.

Reporter-Telegram: MISD seemed to show more success with younger students. Is a reason for that because of the COVID impact and MISD’s revolving door of permanent and interim superintendents and therefore a lack of consistency in their education? Will it just take a little longer to reach those students?

Ramsey: The last time Texas rated our schools, there were 19 “D” and “F” schools. Only two of those schools were at the secondary level. One of the first actions I took upon arriving was redesigning our District Service Center from a central office. We exist to serve the needs of our campuses. The first major branch redesigned was what was formerly known as academics. Last summer, it was reimagined as “learning, leading and innovation.” We created two strong interdisciplinary teams, one for each high school feeder pattern (purple and maroon), of support for teachers and leaders. We also created the Achievement Zone initiative in which we tiered our schools to provide them differentiated support based on their specific needs.

As we move into the 2022-2023 school year, we are adding additional supports at the secondary level. We are adding schools to our instructional materials support initiative and our multi-tiered Systems of Support Initiative. Our initiatives are based in solid instructional and behavioral practices, not devices or any shiny new products. In addition, our new School Improvement Officer Miguel Serrano is an expert at school turnaround. He has served at the middle and high school level, having taken a failing high school to exemplary status in less than three years. 

While sustainable change takes time, we are encouraged by the positive changes in year one and will work collaboratively to continue the progress. Our early results bring a sense of joy and hope. It provides momentum going into the next school year. 

Reporter-Telegram: What are you going to be looking at when the next round of data is provided, including the grades for the district and campuses?

Ramsey: In order for results to be actionable, they must be broken down to student groups and all the way down to the student level so that support can be provided at an individual level.

We are optimistic for the Aug. 15 school ratings that will come out. While we cannot yet accurately predict letter grades, the growth we are seeing across the school district shows the progress being made citywide. Based on this, I feel comfortable that we have exited several “D”- and “F”-rated schools and will have more “A” and “B” schools than MISD has ever had under the current accountability system.

Reporter-Telegram: How much different does it feel to have your first full school year under your belt? What’s in store for year 2?

Ramsey: While there is positive momentum districtwide, the sense of urgency continues. We will continue to keep student achievement the most important focus. We want our students to graduate from MISD well rounded, with the opportunities to meet their potential academically, artistically, athletically and socially. The work continues at a fast pace because our students deserve that from us and so much more.