BY YEZMIN THOMAS
Fort Worth Literacy Partnership
How do you achieve excellence in education? In the Fort Worth Independent School District, you aim high.
The district established the 100x25FWTX Initiative to ensure that 100 percent of third-graders are reading on grade level by the year 2025. Currently only 30 percent of third-graders in the district are reading on the recommended, college-ready pace.
The district’s plan may sound ambitious, but how do you reach the highest level of achievement if you don’t aim high? Exciting things are happening to make this possible.
This month, district leaders are meeting with parents and community members to discuss plans to transform five underperforming schools into Leadership Academies. John T. White, Mitchell Boulevard, Como and Maude Logan elementary schools and Forest Oak Middle School will undergo changes starting this summer.
Facilities will be renovated, high performing teachers will be recruited, and the Fort Worth Literacy Partnership looks forward to working with faith-based organizations, businesses, nonprofit organizations and volunteers to support the transformed schools.
Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner visited students, parents and teachers at Como and Maude Logan elementary schools and Forest Oak Middle School last week. Similar meetings are scheduled Monday, March 27, at John T. White and Mitchell Boulevard elementary schools.
Community meeting at Maude Logan Elementary School.
At Maude Logan, only 7 percent of third-graders scored at the final recommended level on the 2016 STAAR reading test. The school has been on the Texas Education Agency’s list of underperforming schools for four consecutive years.
“We want to get off that list and get our students to be proficient,” Scriber told the enthusiastic crowd that gathered March 23 in the Maude Logan school auditorium.
Third-grade reading marks a critical threshold because that is when students must shift from learning to read to reading to learn.
Students in the new Leadership Academies will receive an extra hour of instruction, specifically language arts and math. Classes will be dismissed at 4 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., and campuses will remain open until 6 p.m., offering extra-curricular activities and dinner before students go home.
Robert J. Ray will be the “new” principal of Maude Logan, but he is a familiar face on campus. Ray served as Maude Logan principal from 1994 to 2000. Under his leadership, the school attained a top “exemplary” rating from the TEA. “The question of can our students do it has already been answered,” Mr. Ray said during the community meeting.
At this first meeting, parents were asked to offer input on the changes that they would like to see and the programs that they would like to keep. More community meetings are planned in the upcoming months to keep parents up to date on the changes, including the look of the new uniforms that will be provided at no cost to the students.
The Leadership Academies are supported through a $1 million gift from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. The funds will pay for after-school support and other programs.
We are looking forward to seeing these changes unfold as we work together to build a better Fort Worth ISD.