WESLACO IDEA Public Schools opened its doors to over 9,600 students across the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday, August 18.

Students who attend IDEA Public Schools are a microcosm of the Rio Grande Valley. An overwhelming majority of them come from Spanish speaking homes. Over 80 percent of IDEA students are considered "low income" under federal guidelines. And as it is every year, student achievement results for new students to IDEA, are lower than the regional average.

For example, while 81 percent of incoming students passed all five statewide TAKS exams, the overall average for Region 1 was closer to 85 percent. This 3-4 percent difference was consistent with individual exam passage rates on subject tests, particularly in Math and English. Students enrolled as rising sophomores demonstrated particular difficulties in comprehension and test-taking in the core topics of Math and English; fewerthan 43 percent of the incoming class passed the Math TAKS while only one in two students passed the English subject test. With a proven track record of excellence, however, IDEA's outstanding administration, faculty, and staff will ensure that all students receive the instruction and support they need to reach college readiness.

"Students who come to IDEA, regardless of their background or history, can and will be successful," said Torkelson. He continued on to say, "While it is easy to place the blame on external factors, as educators we must realize that we are as much of a student's success as they are. We can be better and when we are, so too are they."

IDEA Edinburg and IDEA Weslaco are opening their doors this year with grades K, 1st, 2nd and 6th serving over 900 students. These schools join an already existing network of 16 IDEA Schools that are helping to transform the Rio Grande Valley.

"We are excited for these new schools to open; our teachers and administrators have worked relentlessly to build world-class schools where any and all students can reach their fullest potential and realize the college dream," said Tom Torkelson, IDEA Public Schools Founder & CEO.

For the second year in a row IDEA Public Schools was recognized as an "Exemplary" district by the Texas Education Agency, the only one of its size and demographic in the state of Texas to receive such a distinction. Over 93 percent of IDEA's students passed the state assessment with over 44 percent achieving a commended rate. For the past five years, 100 percent of IDEA graduates have enrolled at a college or university of their choice.