Klein News
More Than a Rating: Epps Island Elementary
Dec 27 2016 - 01:07:00 pm

When I walk into Epps Island, all my senses are activated,” said Aida Interiano, Klein ISD multilingual program coordinator. “I see classrooms that are set up intentionally to foster learning. The love for children is palpable, and I see teachers creating concrete pathways for students to experience opportunity, and that leaves a sweet taste in my mouth.”

 

Over a three-year period, Epps Island Elementary has made significant strides both academically and in its school culture with LaToya Wynne at the helm as the school’s principal.

 

“Three years ago, I was charged with leading Epps Island Elementary,” said Wynne. “We were in Improvement Required, which means that, a state representative was here that worked with our campus.”

 

Though coming into a challenging situation, Wynne and the Epps Island staff were ready to embrace a change that would place the focus on students. 

 

“We truly embody the Professional Learning Community (PLC) structure,” said Wynne. “We know that we want to add value to every student that crosses the threshold of our school.”

 

PLCs consist of educators that meet regularly to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of their students. Epps Island initiated PLCs campus-wide for each grade level to assist in enhancing student achievement.

 

“We're all dependent on each other and it helps that we are always focused on a target,” said Epps Island Elementary teacher, Evelynn Cornejo. “Our PLC is just a great channel for that because we’re able to have discussions with our peers and we're able to learn from each other so we can strive for better instruction.”

 

Through dedicated PLCs, placing students first, and a shift in the culture at the campus, Epps Island marked a milestone during the 2016 accountability testing.

 

“This year we earned our first distinction with an accountability system Index 2 for student growth and student progress,” said Wynne.

 

Index 2 measures how the campus works to close the achievement gaps between various student groups while also improving the overall campus score.

 

The student-focus and culture shift permeates throughout the entire building. Every student, teacher, and parent that enter the campus are in one accord – success for every child at Epps Island.

 

“We are all about kids and any decision that's made at Epps Island is about students,” said Vicki Varga, Epps Island assistant principal. “We consider what's best for our kids before we do anything else.”

 

During this three-year period, the campus has reached out to students and parents by hosting various academic and community activities.

 

“We support them in multiple ways and instilling a love for academics through our literacy programs and through our other scholar programs,” said Tasha James, Epps Island librarian. 

Because of the regular push from the campus as it works to connect with the community, Epps Island is experiencing growth with its community relationships.

 

“Within the community, we have academics and action monthly meetings,” said Epps Island special education teacher, Todd Carrigan. “It’s always focusing on academics whether it's Math Night, Reading, or Fine Arts. It’s things along those lines to help bring in (community members), and it seems like every time they tally up the number of visitors we have a record number.”

 

During the last 36 months, Epps Island has seen exponential growth however, the new rating system passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015, has the potential to diminish this current success. House Bill 2804 made significant changes to the state public school accountability system, moving the ratings from either Met Standard or Improvement Required to the creation of an A-F rating system for district and campus performance. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner must submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2017, exhibiting the grade each district and campus would have received for the 2016 testing period.

 

Like all the other measures used to evaluate schools, Epps Island principal Wynne further explained how the A-F ratings offer only a portion of the total picture of a school or district.

 

“The A-F rating system cannot embody the greatness that is here every single day with our teachers and with our students,” said Wynne. “And it really can dampen the heart of a school. Look at growth, look at the great things that are happening at the school that can be measured. We cannot be measured on one day or one test.”

 

The ratings assigned to each district and campus will include five domains:                

 

Domain I

 

Meeting standards at satisfactory and college readiness levels on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

Domain II

STAAR annual improvement at satisfactory and college readiness levels.

Domain III

Reducing “academic achievement gaps among students with different racial and ethnic groups or socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Domain IV

Academic attainments (other than STAAR)

  • High School: including dropout and graduation rates, Career and Technical Education (CTE) sequence completion, Advanced Placement (AP) course completion, Texas Success Initiative (TSI) benchmarks and more for high schools;
  • Middle School: chronic absenteeism rate, dropout rates, and college and career preparatory instruction for middle schools;
  • Elementary schools attendance.

Domain V

Three self-selected categories of the Community and Student Engagement (CASE) ratings.

 

The overall grade of A-F will be calculated using the following percentages: Domains I-III equals 55 percent of the grade, Domain IV equals 35 percent, and Domain V equals 10 percent. The new rating system will be formally applied to campuses and districts starting in the 2017-2018 school year.

 

For more information about the A-F rating system and a complete list of all indicators, please visit, http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Correspondence/TAA_Letters/Indicators_for_A-F_Academic_Accountability_System/.

 

Many employees at the campus feel as strongly as Principal Wynne about the A-F rating system and what it could possibly mean for the campus and other schools throughout the state.

 

Epps Island assistant principal, Tonya Brain said, “Epps Island is more than just a rating because this is home for all of us.” 

 

“We are more than just a grade letter,” said Epps Island teacher Amanda Deeds. “Here at Epps Island and even in the Klein district, because we make connections with our children.”

 

Any accountability label is a comma, not a period. The A-F rating is one indicator of performance, but there are many others that are equally important and Epps Island is more than a rating. Epps Island is a caring learning community where students thrive, teachers and staff care and work hard, and the parents and community partnerships provide support.    
We’re More Than a Rating: Krahn Elementary
Dec 23 2016 - 11:10:00 am

His staff. That’s what Krahn Elementary principal Frank Ward says makes his campus so successful.

 

“Staff plays a powerful role in making sure our school moves forward, making sure that everyone is on the same page,” said Ward.

 

Under Ward’s leadership, the school has taken an active role in Professional Learning Communities (PLC). PLCs offer staff the opportunity to collaborate with each other and learn from each other’s experiences. They also take part in vertical learning teams where staff plan on how they can make students stronger in the upcoming school year.

 

Beginning last year, Krahn took reading to the next level by creating programs and spaces to solely focus on the love of reading.

 

“We were trying to instill the love of reading,” said Ward. “We received a grant from Lowe’s that funded our Reading Garden. There are no huge expectations, other than for students to go in the garden and read and enjoy.”

 

With the help of the Lowe’s Toolbox 4 Education Grant, the Reading Garden was created as a brightly colored outdoor space that includes a walking path, flowers, and wooden teepees for students to sit in. The staff at Krahn hopes that the whimsical garden will serve as a place where students, teachers, and faculty can immerse themselves in their books.

 

In addition to promoting the love of reading among students, Krahn also stepped up its Nurtured Heart program to help staff better understand student’s disciplinary needs. The program helped staff decipher between behavioral problems that required allowing a student time to cool down and think about their actions instead of an office referral. This led to more classroom time for the students who did not need full disciplinary action.

 

When asked about the upcoming A-F rating system, Ward admits he does not like the stereotype that schools may potentially receive based on this one letter grade.

 

“We have 750 kids that have different needs and wants and different backgrounds,” said Ward. “To assign one letter grade to identify everything done across our campus all year, may appear to the community as though our campus isn’t working as hard.”

 

The new rating system passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015, has the potential to appear to diminish this current success. House Bill 2804 made significant changes to the state public school accountability system, moving the ratings from either Met Standard or Improvement Required to the creation of an A-F rating system for district and campus performance. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner must submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2017, exhibiting the grade each district and campus would have received for the 2016 testing period.

 

 

The ratings assigned to each district and campus will include five domains:                     

 

Domain I

 

Meeting standards at satisfactory and college readiness levels on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

Domain II

STAAR annual improvement at satisfactory and college readiness levels.

Domain III

Reducing “academic achievement gaps among students with different racial and ethnic groups or socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Domain IV

Academic attainments (other than STAAR)

  • High School: including dropout and graduation rates, Career and Technical Education (CTE) sequence completion, Advanced Placement (AP) course completion, Texas Success Initiative (TSI) benchmarks and more for high schools;
  • Middle School: chronic absenteeism rate, dropout rates, and college and career preparatory instruction for middle schools;
  • Elementary schools: chronic absenteeism rate

Domain V

Three self-selected categories of the Community and Student Engagement (CASE) ratings.

 

The overall grade of A-F will be calculated using the following percentages: Domains I-III equals 55 percent of the grade, Domain IV equals 35 percent, and Domain V equals 10 percent. The new rating system will be formally applied to campuses and districts starting in the 2017-2018 school year.

 

For more information about the A-F rating system and a complete list of all indicators, please visit, http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Correspondence/TAA_Letters/Indicators_for_A-F_Academic_Accountability_System/.

 

At Krahn, the staff has taken a new direction in their PLCs that has led to some great discussion times. The staff is able to open up with one another, talk about instruction, student progress, the things that are not working at the campus, and more. Ward refers to PLCs as truth time and he believes that through the collaboration taking place during PLCs, the staff is learning how to become a better campus.

 

“Krahn is a learning community above everything else,” said Ward. Just as a child could never be defined by a single letter grade, no school or district should be labeled by a single letter grade. 

We’re More Than a Rating: Wunderlich Intermediate
Dec 19 2016 - 08:27:00 am

“We’re not just a building that kids come to every day,” said Wunderlich Intermediate principal Chris Ruggerio. “There’s hands-on experiences, there’s technology.”

 

Wunderlich Intermediate has experienced a lot of positive changes over the past few years. New programs have been implemented for curriculum, behavior, and character development. All students, staff, and the community have been affected in a positive way.

 

“In addition to our O.S.C.A.R. (Our Students Care About Reading) program, we were able to purchase a Discovery Dome with the help of  Klein ISD Education Foundation (KEF) grants,” said Ruggerio. “This gives our students a visual learning experience that they may not get to have outside of school.”

 

Wunderlich has also worked to improve the relationships with the community, and with the help from another grant, the campus will receive an aquaponics garden where students from feeder campuses may also come to learn about fish and water plants.

 

“We have found that reaching out to the community has been a huge part of our success,” he said.

 

This is also the second year for a record turnout at Wunderlich’s Community Engagement events. Feeder campuses and the local community are invited to an evening featuring curriculum-based demonstrations and activities as well as other experiences from local agencies and business partners.

 

Wunderlich has also focused on building character with students through programs and processes. One of the programs that has seen the most impact is the behavioral program. Through mentorships, teachers, secretaries, and other personnel, Wunderlich has seen huge decreases in the number of students being placed in In-School Suspension and Off-School Suspension, and students are getting more time in the classroom.

 

“We have supported those students to ensure they are able to get their education opportunities,” said Ruggerio. “That program has been a tremendous success for us.”

 

The new rating system passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015, has the potential to diminish Wunderlich’s current success. House Bill 2804 made significant changes to the state public school accountability system, moving the ratings from either Met Standard or Improvement Required to the creation of an A-F rating system for district and campus performance. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner must submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2017, exhibiting the grade each district and campus would have received for the 2016 testing period.

 

 

The ratings assigned to each district and campus will include five domains:                     

 

Domain I

 

Meeting standards at satisfactory and college readiness levels on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

Domain II

STAAR annual improvement at satisfactory and college readiness levels.

Domain III

Reducing “academic achievement gaps among students with different racial and ethnic groups or socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Domain IV

Academic attainments (other than STAAR)

  • High School: including dropout and graduation rates, Career and Technical Education (CTE) sequence completion, Advanced Placement (AP) course completion, Texas Success Initiative (TSI) benchmarks and more for high schools;
  • Middle School: chronic absenteeism rate, dropout rates, and college and career preparatory instruction for middle schools;
  • Elementary Schools: chronic absenteeism rate

Domain V

Three self-selected categories of the Community and Student Engagement (CASE) ratings.

 

The overall grade of A-F will be calculated using the following percentages: Domains I-III equals 55 percent of the grade, Domain IV equals 35 percent, and Domain V equals 10 percent. The new rating system will be formally applied to campuses and districts starting in the 2017-2018 school year.

 

For more information about the A-F rating system and a complete list of all indicators, please visit, http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/News_and_Multimedia/Correspondence/TAA_Letters/Indicators_for_A-F_Academic_Accountability_System/.

 

There are many concerns about the new rating system and how it may affect campuses.

 

“One of my biggest concerns is that it predominantly looks at student performance based on a standardized test,” Ruggerio said. “It is a one-time snapshot on that given day.”

 

Ruggerio states that he finds the new rating system takes away the celebration and exciting steps that are taking place within a campus. The program does not take into consideration what a campus has done to evolve student growth and what has happened that school year.

 

“There’s so much more than just one letter that defines what Wunderlich is to this community and to this district,” said Ruggerio. “Wunderlich is defined by our students and what our community sees in us, not just a letter.”

Klein ISD Receives $31,300 in Additional Funding for JASON Learning
Dec 08 2016 - 04:22:00 pm

Klein ISD is excited to be the recipient of a $31,300 grant from Chevron for the fourth consecutive year of the JASON Learning Project. This grant will help with all aspects of the JASON Learning Project and its implementation throughout Klein ISD science curriculum. In addition, it will fund one student and one teacher for the Argonaut program.

 

“The continued support of Chevron allows Klein ISD to continue to fund the teacher and student Argonaut Program,” said Sherri Lathrop, Klein ISD science instructional officer. “The Argonaut Program is a life-changing journey, where the student and teacher work side-by-side with scientists and engineers in the field.”

 

Visit http://classic.jason.org/argo2016 to learn more about the Argonaut program or to apply.

 

In addition to the Argonaut program, the support from Chevron allows the district to continue training teachers on the use of the JASON Learning curriculum.

 

“The JASON Learning curriculum engages students in authentic, real-world learning experiences that push students to think critically about the world around them,” said Lathrop. “All the scientists featured in the curriculum are currently alive and working in their field. Students see how the science and math can help them make a difference in their world. We are grateful to Chevron for the opportunity to continue this partnership.”

 

For more information about the JASON Learning Project, visit https://www.jason.org/

powered by ezTaskTM