Houston Elementary and Mayes Elementary both presented campus intervention plans along with each campuses improvement plans Tuesday night at the Denison Independent School District’s school board meeting.
The schools were required to prepare intervention plans as part of new state and federal regulations that have recently gone into effect, according to Denison ISD Superintendent Henry Scott.
Both campuses were required to focus on Domain Three improvement plans. Denison Curriculum Director Shonda Cannon said Domain Three covers a wide range of areas — most notably closing the gap which she said measures the campuses improvement in certain areas. It also measures how different demographics groups perform.
In the Houston campus improvement plan, two areas the district identified that needed improvement were building confidence in the students as well as improving communications between the district and parents.
“We’re focusing this year on raising students confidence and their self-esteem,” Houston Principal Kyle Uber said. “From walking into the building, we’re telling them they are capable of meeting any challenges they face. We’re recognizing their good work. We identified students we call ‘confidence captains’ who will help us promote the kids.”
Uber said it is a new target area he decided to focus on after attending a professional development training he had over the summer.
“A case could be made when (students) believe an adult shares that same belief in their ability, they will achieve more,” Cannon said. “There is significant research on when a teacher has a significant relationship with a child that is a number one factor in that student achieving their potential.”
Denison ISD Superintendent Henry Scott said he was overall pleased with the plans the campuses turned in.
“I thought they were excellent,” Scott said. “They evolve over a period of time. Each year, you need to get better. That is what we’re all about. There are always things we need to improve on. To put them in a plan with action items and strategies that will deal with those, that is the only way we get better as a district and at each campus.”
Scott said it starts with a district improvement plan that gets approved at the August meeting of the school board. Then individual campus site committees form a plan for each campus that is presented at the November meeting. He said it is all based on state and federal mandates. The school board approved the plans Tuesday and Scott said while there is always room to improve he said the district has made improvements from last year, even if it wasn’t at the level the district had desired.
“We saw improvements,” Scott said. “We don’t always meet the improvement. The goals are set on, but we saw great improvement this past school year. The area we didn’t see as much as we expected to is the area of writing. Writing is only tested at grade 4 and 7. It is not at every grade level. The 7th grade writing showed significant improvement. The 4th grade, we didn’t get the improvement we hoped for. We got a little improvement. It wasn’t as much as we had hoped to get.”
Scott said writing continues to be an area of concern across the state. He said reading is the number two area of concern, and the district did well in math.
Last May, Houston Elementary faculty sent out a survey to ask parents the areas they felt needed most improvement, and they identified communication as needing the most attention.
He said the campus is working to utilize all tools at its disposal to improve communicating expectations to parents. He said there is room to grow hence it being considered a topic of discussion for the district.
“Part of our goal in Denison ISD is to build a capacity of students — to build a strong support system at home,” Denison ISD Director of Assessment Regina Prigge said. “We’re not saying parents lack skill. Our goal is in helping children is always to build capacity of parents so they better understand how to help their children. It’s not that parents don’t know how to do something. It’s they don’t know what to do. In our mindset, we’re focusing on building capacity.”
The campus improvement plans can be found online at https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicAgenda.aspx?ak=91903&mk=50355899