Doing what matters most

Published 4:44 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

By Dr. Rickie Harris

Last month, the Texas Education Agency released school ratings. Many schools along the Gulf Coast, including West Orange-Cove CISD, received “Not Rated: Harvey provision” designation. Performance scores were also released.

As always, West Orange-Cove CISD uses state accountability information along with other indicators within the district to evaluate the progress that we are making with our students. We are trending in the right direction, but we realize that there is still much work ahead. We will continue to strive to provide an excellent educational experience every day for all our student body.

With that said, we are pleased with the improvement that West Orange-Stark Elementary School made during the last testing cycle in the area of student growth and progress. Many of the students on the campus experienced two years of growth in one school year and that is something to celebrate for both the student and the teacher. We applaud their success. Yet, some of our students did not pass the STAAR test. They, in turn, however, demonstrated growth. For many, it was tremendous growth. Advancement is important.  We are striving for all of our campuses to experience this type of academic gain yearly.

Our goal as a district is for every student to grow at least one year during a given school year. That may not result in a passing score on STAAR for every student, but our goal is to ensure that the student is progressing.

The students and staff of all of the schools in Orange County suffered tremendously due to Hurricane Harvey. Our district will not use that as an excuse for performance. We, however, do realize that this awful event had a great impact not only on our students’ performance at school but also in many other areas.

Many students had to cope with the loss of everything. Some of our students and staff members remain displaced today and may never return to the homes in which they once lived. This is why it made good sense that the Commissioner of Education granted Orange County schools a Hurricane Harvey waiver. For students that were already struggling prior to the hurricane, the burden of closing the academic gap magnified.

With that said, I am extremely proud of the hard work and effort our students and teachers displayed in the wake of such life-changing turmoil. No, as a district, we are not where we want to be academically. Nevertheless, I can say with great confidence that our students and staff are working towards that goal every day.

Additionally, I will say there is no accountability system that rates how this district provided food to all students who were hungry after Hurricane Harvey. There is no rating for how we collected clothing and other items for distribution to students, staff, and members of our greater community. There is no rating regarding how our students, teachers, and parents came together to help those who were struggling and in need. Sometimes at the end of the day, we have to analyze and recognize what is most important.

Respectfully, West Orange-Cove CISD is doing what matters.

Dr. Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange-Cove CISD.