Fort Bend ISD pilot will restructure struggling schools

Fort Bend ISD is preparing to overhaul its classroom structure at Briargate and Ridgemont elementary schools during the 2016-17 school year. A newly crafted program called Educators Dedicated to Growing Excellence will replace the traditional classroom environment with a more flexible and fluid model.

“This is really about rebuilding the entire culture and climate of the school as well as rebuilding the entire staff,” FBISD Assistant Superintendent Anthony Indelicato said at a Feb. 29 board of trustees meeting. “We need to do something big, something different, and we do feel that the time is now.”

At each EDGE campus—the schools are undergoing improvement plans—grades K-5 will have a team of EDGE instructors to teach an entire grade. Throughout the school week, students will move between different groups while meeting with a master teacher, a mentor teacher, an EDGE teacher and an EDGE instructional aide, according to FBISD meeting documents.

“The greatest thing is that the master teacher…is an ongoing resource for every student on that grade-level teams,” FBISD Assistant Superintendent Mark Foust said.

Depending on the size of a grade, teams may have multiples of some EDGE instructors. Staff said EDGE is designed to extend to pre-K, but that grade has not yet officially been included in the pilot.

“Students can be grouped by competency level based on a particular learning objective,” Foust said.

Fort Bend ISD pilot will restructure struggling schools FBISD provided a selection of possible student-teacher groupings in the new EDGE program[/caption]

Students may also be grouped by class subject, learning styles, or student interests.

On March 7, the board of trustees approved a stipend schedule for EDGE staff and the creation of seven new instructional positions to get the EDGE hiring process off the ground. The stipends range from $500 for teacher development to $15,000 for master teachers.

Altogether, EDGE staff will cost about $1.1 million additional budget dollars for two participating schools, said Dina Edgar, FBISD executive director of finance. Some of the money will come from federal Title I funding.

“It seems like pieces of these things have been tried but nothing that incorporates the whole package,” trustee Dave Rosenthal said.

FBISD also plans to create an afterschool component called Club EDGE for students to get extra homework help, daily meals and other support. Club EDGE will also cost approximately $1 million, however, FBISD staff said a funding source is not identified for that expense.

EDGE will begin with the 2016-17 school year. Indelicato said EDGE schools will follow the same curriculum as all other district schools and a community presentation on the program will be given after the first week of the new school year.

“It seems to be thought through,” trustee Kristin Tassin said. “I’m excited to see how it’s going to pilot next year.”


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