SSISD Administrators Give Updates On Bilingual/ESL Programs, Progress Monitoring Goals
Sulphur Springs ISD will be losing a principal to retirement soon; her notice of retirement was one of only three action items the school board was asked to consider approving during the regular November meeting this week.
During the administrative reports portion of the Nov. 8, 2021 school board meeting, SSISD Director for the Bilingual/ESL Program Craig Toney reported the program’s educational performance during the 2020-21 school year and Superintendent Michael Lamb reviewed progress monitoring goals with board.
Sulphur Springs Middle School Principal Jena Williams recent submitted her notice of retirement to school administrators; it was approved by SSISD Board of Trustees during the Nov. 8 meeting.
Williams has been with the school district for 10 years. SSISD Baord of Trustees’ approved the recommendation of Williams as principal for grades 6-8 on April 8, 2013. Williams plans to conclude her career as an educator at SSISD at the end of January 2023.
The SSMS principal’s notice of retirement was one of two personnel matters approved by the school board following an executive session on Nov. 8, 2021. SSISD trustees also accepted the resignation of Haylee Head, a Title III aide at Travis Primary School. Head was hired for the position on Aug. 28, 2020, and will finish up as school lets out for Thanksgiving break.
Country Club Contract
School district trustees also approved an agreement for 2021-2022 with Sulphur Springs Country Club with would allow student golfers to use the facility as stipulated in the contract. Lamb said the contract is routine, and will allow the school district’s two teams to practice and play at the Country Club with no increase in price: $5,000 per year for course use plus $2,500 for range balls.
The golfing season begins in August 2021 and concludes in May 2022, with play allowed Tuesday-Friday, after 2 p.m. They must be supervised by SSISD staff at all times, are not permitted in or around the bar and grill area, but may use the Pro Shop. Only SSISD golf coaches will be allowed to play on the course as part of the SSISD contract.
The contract enables SSISD to host up to four tournaments each golf season. Tourneys must be played on Mondays, unless otherwise approved by SSCC management.
SSISD serve 619 English language learners last year, 601 of whom were served through the bilingual and ESL programs. Parent denials accounted for the other 18 students, which simply means their parents known they are English learners (EL) but choose not to serve them in any way, Bilingual/ESL Program Director Craig Toney reported during Monday evening’s board meeting. Sixty-seven students were also monitored in their first or second year after meeting state and federal exit criteria.
The two-way dual language program is now up to third grade, and students and staff are looking forward to seeing those students move up to fourth next year and fifth grade the year after while still in the program. He said the program is on tract for that currently, with an enrollment of 271 students in the program overall, including a few more native Spanish speakers than native English speakers.
This year, the program is almost maxed out with 42 kindergarteners. One of this year’s goals, especially for English language learners, is to see a “pretty good increase in looking over their STAAR [State of Texas Academic Readiness] performances last year from third all the way through EOC at high school.”
In order for English learners to meet criteria to exit the program, they must meet three criteria established during the 2019-2020 school year by Texas Education Agency:
- Students must have demonstrated a readiness for successful participation in grade-level content instruction delivered without second language acquisition supports as determined by the LPAC and/or classroom teachers.
- Students must have completed and scored ADVANCED HIGH on all four domains of the 2020-2021 TELPAS assessment.
- Students who met the TELPAS requirement were reviewed by the LPAC according to the English Learner Reclassification Rubric.
“We want to really see our English language learners bump that up. So we are just planning to have some good data meetings, some good data talks, some instructional talks with everybody working with those kids to make sure that we are moving them up as high as possible. We had a few that reclassified this year, not as many as last year because last year’s standards with COVID were quite a bit different,” Toney explained. “We had two ways they could reclassify and show their English proficiency. Now, it’s back to just one way, pretty much, and that’s the TELPAS test, which is an extremely difficult test for those students to get advanced high in all four domains.”
The four domains on the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System exam (TELPAS) are math, reading, writing and science. A the eighth grade level, students also are tested in social studies.
“We did have a few reclassify. We would always love to see more reclassify so we work hard at the middle school and high school level to get them equipped to do that,” Toney said.
According to the report provided to the school board, SSISD had one ninth grade limited English proficiency student, one LEP 12th grader and two 11th LEP graders who reclassified at hte end of the 2019-2020 and beginning of the 2020-2021 school years.
During the 2020-21 school year, SSISD had 37 English learners in pre-kindergarten, 54 in kindergarten, 60 in first grade, 51 in second grade, 61 in third grade, 53 each in fourth and sixth grades, 55 in fifth, , 52 in seventh, 30 in eighth grade, 32 each in ninth and 10th grades, 21 in 11th grade and 28 in 12th grade.
The district in 2020-21 had 15 bilingual teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, 52 English as a second language/English language arts and reading teachers in grade pre-k through 12th, and 8 bilingual paraprofessionals. Three teachers were under a bilingual/ESL exemption waiver during the 2020-21 school year, with dates of certification pending.
Progress, Monitoring Goals
Superintendent Lamb told the board that the school is required to share with trustees progress measures then 1-3 goals that the district is currently or plans to implement to help reach the desired progress measures. He said the district set goals at the various grade levels where students need the most work to approach and meet grade level requirements in all required curriculum levels.
District staff have poured over October data to see areas students have shown improvement and to see which areas still need the most work and are implementing additional measures to see that the students hit the desired grade level growth.
COVID school closures in spring 2020 and other measures in fall 2020 and spring 2021 as expected have impacted student growth in the different courses. Before COVID, the district had planned to implement these planned measures to get students where they need to be. That halted at spring break 2020. The district is now phasing those in and working with students, including adding more math staff so that students in need of additional help can spend “pull out” time with those employees getting it.
One change includes a new reporting system that provides more specialized diagnostic pieces and what to do to help students struggling in various areas. Because of COVID and the new data system, it’s hard to compare data from past year to the new reports.
Ideally, the district strives to get students up by grade level to a specified percent in the next 2 years. District administrators are excited about the new system and hopeful that with extra, more concentrated focus, the students will as evidence suggests be able to make up missed time (during COVID years).
Mid-year data on student progress in various subjects as well as grade level in math and literacy should be available in February, and the end of year data in May and June. District officials and teachers will use that to determine the next goal.