From Superintendent Pedro Martinez:
It’s always exciting to go into a school year with a growing list of opportunities and offerings for students, and this year was no exception.
We opened this school year on a high note when Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath kicked off his 2019 accountability tour at an A-rated SAISD school. During his first stop of the day, he commended our District for gaining the most in student achievement among the state’s largest districts, and second most in school progress and overall performance. Our District achieved a B rating and also tripled the number of A- and B-rated campuses from 2017. Additionally, 42 of our schools were recognized with one or more Distinction Designations based on student performance. Each of our high schools earned at least one distinction and five campuses earned all possible distinctions.
Commissioner Morath said, “This is no mean feat for a District where, as a whole, 90 percent of the kids in San Antonio ISD come from households that struggle with basic necessities.” He called out SAISD’s accomplishments as proof that “poverty is not destiny.”
I couldn’t be more proud of our students, and the great work teachers and staff are doing to help our students reach their potential.
This school year we are continuing to expand offerings, and these opportunities come with successful track records that are known to lead to higher student achievement. We have 49 schools now offering dual language programs. Studies show that dual language programs fully close the achievement gap between English learners and native English speakers, while all students in these programs are better prepared with 21st century skills necessary in our global society.
We’ve opened two more career-focused high school programs. Third in the CAST Schools network, CAST Med High School is an opportunity for students who aspire to be medical and public health professionals or biomedical researchers, adding to the pipeline of much-needed doctors and researchers in the San Antonio area. And Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School will help students wanting to tap into the high-wage, high-demand career of cybersecurity. Texas has the most cybersecurity growth potential in the United States, according to Business Facilities’ 15th Annual Ranking Report released this summer.
Additionally, two elementary schools launched this year with a focus on STEAM curriculum. Young Women’s Leadership Academy-Primary is the city’s first public, all-girls elementary school. This school was inspired by our Young Women’s Leadership Academy for middle and high school grades, a high-performing 2015 National Blue Ribbon School that consistently ranks among U.S. News & World Report’s best high schools.
The newly expanded Carvajal Elementary School, which in recent years was an Early Childhood Education Center, is also implementing a curriculum that will
engage students in science, technology, engineering, arts,
and mathematics. One of its community partners is The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and as a result, all Carvajal teachers will receive professional development to guide them to further incorporate art into STEM subjects. The Tobin Center is providing this professional development as well to two other campuses – M.L. King Academy and Tafolla Middle School – while also placing teaching artists at more than 20 of our schools. With additional art educator partnerships with Say Sí, Artpace, Southwest School of Art, Spare Parts, and The Magik Theatre, this number grows to almost 40 campuses receiving a strengthened arts-based education.
Partnerships such as these are helping us expand fine arts offerings. Already, all K-5 students have art class, and 79 percent of all SAISD students participate in fine arts. And we want this percentage to grow! Our District data shows that students who participate in the arts score higher in standardized tests, pass more of their classes, and have better attendance.
This is a win across the board. SAISD’s academic achievements are not happening at just a few schools – it’s happening at scale. We have proof points across our entire District. At SAISD, we think high. We raise expectations.
Every single day, the great educators in our District show students that education is powerful, and in turn, those students choose to be on course for success.