Georgetown ISD targets student achievement under new district systems

Image description
Image description
One of Georgetown ISD's goals is to increase proficiency in reading, writing and math by third grade. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Image description
Georgetown ISD is now implementing efforts to increase student achievement and development by 2025.

GISD officials began talking about five systems in 2018 to achieve goals based on its mission statements and input from the community. The board’s goals center on helping students become college-, career- and military-ready, and develop social and emotional awareness.

Every year, district officials roll out different phases of each system’s plan to reach these goals by 2025. The district wants to meet state standards and simultaneously keep the needs and desires of parents and students in mind, said Wes Vanicek, chief strategist for assessment and feedback.

“The goal is to create a school system that is based on the community’s values for their education organization,” Vanicek said. “Then, we want to show progress toward becoming that school system. The other half of that is when we do that, it informs the system of how to get better.”

GISD is also creating a community-based accountability system to ensure the district maintains its and mission statements, Vanicek said. The district sought input from a diverse pool of community members through public forms and outreach. Taking this input into account, district officials created a plan to implement seven pillars of accountability, such as ensuring every student has teachers and staff who care about their learning and well-being, by 2025.


“For forever, accountability has been based on how well kids score on the STAAR, TAKS and TAAS test,” Vanicek said. “Community-based accountability is an effort to shift that focus and make it more about what our community desires as a school system.”

Self improvement

In addition to holding itself accountable, GISD is helping students improve using a learner profile system. Each student has six attributes to work toward such as creating original ideas and developing relationships with people.

For the 2020-21 school year, the district built a data entry system to track student progress. By 2025, all students would receive personalized feedback and could track their own progress, said Lindsay Harris, GISD chief strategist of leadership and culture.

While they are training to be better learners, students can also prepare for their futures. GISD has developed multiple pathways for students to be ready for college, a career or the military. In 2020, 76% of seniors met state-defined requirements to be ready for college, a career or the military. The district would like for 100% of students to meet the requirements by 2025, said Cynthia Pike, director of college, career and military readiness for GISD.

To help students reach this goal, the district is encouraging more students to take Advanced Placement courses or pursue industry certification courses that GISD offers. The courses include automotive services, welding and pharmacy technician skills, and GISD trains teachers to help students become certified.

“We have a student who was working at a local restaurant and earned her ServSafe Manager certification while working there,” Pike said. “She was promoted within a month to a managing position while being a senior in high school.”

The district is not focusing on military readiness for 2021-22 and is leaving discussions up to families, Pike said.

For younger students, the district wants them to meet grade-level proficiency in reading, writing and math by third grade. In the last school year, 70% of the district’s 809 third graders met standards for these subjects, Vanicek said. By 2025, the district would like to see 100% of its third graders qualify.

GISD measures grade-level proficiency through test scores from state and district tests. To help students meet proficiency, the district does not require them to meet standards for every assessment, said Terri Conrad, chief strategist for learning and design for GISD.

“A student can earn grade-level proficiency [through any of these assessments],” Conrad said. “That’s why we have multiple measures, so that each student has a style of assessment that is going to benefit them more.”

Social and emotional

To accomplish the mission in developing students beyond academics, the district is implementing a social-emotional learning system. Social-emotional learning teaches students self-awareness, social awareness and responsible decision-making. The program is also intended to support learning in the classroom, said Heather Moeller, social emotional learning and mental health specialist for GISD.

“All learning has an emotional component,” Moeller said. “If our job is to create experiences that prepare students to work and cooperate with the world, then we cannot fail to address the emotional undercurrent of learning.”

Instead of starting the program with the entire district at once, GISD is rolling out an onboarding process for four different groups of schools at different times. By 2023, the district wants the program to reach the entire high school level.

“We want to save high schools at the tail end so we can develop SEL specifically for their experience,” said David Rainey, GISD director of counseling services.Overall, the district is honing in on sending students off into the world feeling prepared, Harris said.

“Are students leaving our system ready for life, whatever life is, after they leave our system?” she said.
By Trent Thompson

Reporter, Austin Metro

Trent joined Community Impact Newspaper as an intern in May 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin in December 2020. In July 2021, he was promoted to Austin Metro reporter. He covers several news beats from education and government to dining, transportation, nonprofits, and healthcare. However, his primary beat is business and development. Before working at CI, Trent wrote for The Daily Texan, UT's daily student newspaper, and worked on many projects of his own for his undergraduate program. In his free time Trent writes poetry, spends time with loved ones, and watches Star Wars for the hundredth time, including other new movies.



MOST RECENT

City Post Chophouse opened its oyster bar and market in June. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Post Chophouse opens its oyster bar and market

Oyster bar and market open at City Post

 Redistricting is one of the items on the Texas Legislature's third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Senate releases proposed redistricting maps as special session begins

Redistricting is one of the items on the third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18.

Williamson County Court House
Williamson County approves nonprofit funding, and other notes from Commissioners Court

Commissioners approved public funding for local nonprofits, including funding for the Williamson Museum.

Photo of people attending ACL Fest
City of Austin approves ACL health and safety plan, holds off on final permit

Austin Public Health gave ACL the go-ahead to allow proof of vaccination in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test, but asked organizers to require masking in some areas.

Georgetown Independent School District voted to approve virtual learning for its students on Sept. 20. (Adobe Stock)
Georgetown ISD moves toward remote learning option

Georgetown ISD approves virtual learning option

ROCK will host its annual barn dance on Oct.16. (Courtesy ROCK)
Ride On Center for Kids works to heal variety of individuals with horses

Georgetown nonprofit utilizes horses to help heal people

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; fire kills 75 dogs in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Georgetown Fire responded Sept. 18 to a call at the Ponderosa Pet Resort. (Community Impact Newspaper File Photo)
Fire at Georgetown facility claims 75 dogs

Fire at Ponderosa Pet Ranch results in 75 dog deaths

Shake's at 1208 Williams Drive, Georgetown is rebranding as Frozen Flamingo with an expanded menu. (Courtesy Photo)
Georgetown's Shake's rebrands as Frozen Flamingo with expanded menu

Shake's rebrands as Frozen Flamingo, to feature alcoholic drinks

 Busy Nurse's Station In Modern Hospital
Williamson County seeking input on community health needs

The Williamson County and Cities Health District is holding two focus group sessions through September with the goal of collecting public feedback on community health needs throughout the county.

graphic
DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.