I want to go over the new A-F Accountability System set up by the Texas Education Agency. This system grades districts in four areas, known as domains.

I am pleased to report that McAllen ISD has received some of the best ratings in our area (highest among Class 6A schools in Hidalgo County: Domain I – ‘B,’ Domain II – ‘A,’ Domain III – ‘A,’ and Domain IV – ‘C’).

As always, we attribute our success to our outstanding, hard-working teachers. Our McAllen ISD family surpasses the state average in the level of degrees held (99.5% hold Bachelors, Masters, and/or Doctorates) and experience in the classroom (12.3 average years of teacher experience, surpassing the state). Excellent teachers make all the difference.

If you look at Domain I (Student Achievement), you have to remember it includes all tests, all grades and all subjects tested in the 2014-15 school year. What we are trying to do in Domain I is ensure we get students achieving at the highest level possible. It’s about how many students scored A’s, B’s or C’s.

McAllen ISD earned a ‘B’ rating. With regard to our Region (Laredo to Brownsville), 16.3% of school districts scored a ‘B.’ At the state level, 22.7% of school districts earned a ‘B.’

Our grad is a testament to all the hard work going on in McAllen.

Domain II talks about Student Progress in Reading and Math. So it’s about how our students are performing in these areas and how are they growing from one school year to the next. We are very proud to report that we earned an ‘A.’ In the Region, 25.6% of schools earned an ‘A’ and 16% of schools earned an ‘A’ statewide. Kudos goes to our Region for outperforming the state.

Domain III is about Closing Performance Gaps between students who are economically disadvantaged and those who are not. Once again, it includes all tests, all grades and all subjects tested. We are proud that we earned an ‘A.’ It says that we are doing a tremendous job of meeting the needs of our economically disadvantaged students and they are performing at a very high level. In the Region, 27.9% of schools earned an ‘A’ and, at the state level, 9.7% of school districts earned an ‘A.’

Postsecondary Readiness (Domain IV) is outside the academic arena. At the elementary school level, it’s looking at Chronic Absenteeism rates and, at the middle school level, it’s looking at Chronic Absenteeism and Dropout Rate for seventh and eighth grade.

At the high school level, it gets complex. This looks at Graduation Rates, Dropout Rates, how many students are taking Career Technical Education courses, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, Graduation Plan Rates (how many students are in the Distinguished Achievement Plan, Regular High School Plan, etc.) and other benchmarks.

We did score a ‘C’ and we know, in McAllen ISD, that’s not good enough for us. We are going to work hard to put systems in place to turn that ‘C’ into an ‘A.’ It’s going to take hard work on behalf of everyone in the system. We do have it in place to target the areas I’ve talked about. At the Regional level, 42.9% of districts scored a ‘C’ with 31.3% at the state level.

This new system doesn’t officially begin until August 2018 but TEA decided to release it ahead of time to show where districts stand if the rating system were to begin now.

All of this would not be possible without the hard work of our outstanding teachers. They pour their heart and soul into their classrooms every day.

When parents drop off their kids across McAllen ISD, they know they are going to be loved, nurtured and educated as if they were our own children.

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Dr. J.A. Gonzalez is the Superintendent of Schools for McAllen ISD