Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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20180817 VidaurriMeetandGreetVerticalWhen the Texas Education Agency released their latest accountability ratings last month, Sharyland ISD had a lot to celebrate.

Under these new ratings, schools were graded on an A-F scale and Sharyland was one of 9 districts with an “A” rating in Hidalgo County.

“The rating goes back to the excellence that is expected of the district,” Sharyland Superintendent Maria Vidaurri said last month. “We’re looking to see what areas we can improve on to ensure we are progressing in the way we should be.”

The rating reflected a score of a 93 out of 100 in the previous school year, a score that was significantly higher than Vidaurri’s former school district Robstown ISD in Nueces County.

Robstown earned a score of 74 out of 100 for an overall grade of a “C”. Its lowest score was a D on Student Achievement and its highest score was a C on School Progress compared to Sharyland’s A grade on both items.

The score reflected Vidaurri’s last year as superintendent at Robstown before being hired as Sharyland’s new superintendent last May.

“I know people will say ‘you came from a district with a C rating,’ but it’s more than that,” Vidaurri said. “I came from an incredible district that works hard, where kids believe in themselves now, teachers believe in their teaching abilities to meet the needs of kids. We’re proud. Yes we all want an A but we celebrated the great things that happened.”

When Vidaurri became superintendent at Robstown in 2013, she said the district was in trouble with the TEA had awarded the district with a failing grade of “Improvement Required” under the old rating system.

Under this grade, only one campus had a “met standard” rating, the highest score under the rating system.

“It was unacceptable for our kids and couldn’t be ignored,” Vidaurri said of the rating. “So at that point, we came together as a community and rolled out a new strategic plan to see where our kids were falling behind to see what we have to do to meet their needs and put students first. That was my philosophy.”

The new curriculum instruction assessment began rolling out the year after and the district “ran with it,” Vidaurri said. That year, the number of campuses with a “met standard” grade increased to three campuses and then to all eight campuses the following year.

For the 2016-2017 school year, those eight campuses also received a “met standard” rating. Meanwhile, the district’s newest campus-dedicated to serving at-risk students to reduce the district’s dropout rate-received an “improvement required” score.

According to Jake Salcines, Sharyland’s director of curriculum and instruction, that academy lowered Robstown’s dropout rate from three percent to zero.

Salcines served as Robstown’s director of curriculum and instruction before following Vidaurri to Sharyland.

“We probably would’ve gotten a ‘met standard’ rating under the old accountability ratings,” Salcines said of the “C” rating. “There would’ve probably been some additional challenges with the alternative academy, but that academy and our philosophy as a whole is about serving those kids. If you’re going to take a hit on accountability but it’s going to be good for kids, we’re taking that hit.”

Ultimately, Vidaurri said, she left Robstown ISD in capable hands. Earlier this summer, the Robstown ISD school board hired Jose Moreno as its new superintendent and Vidaurri said Moreno will continue the work she and Salcines and the rest of the team at Robstown started.

“It’s almost like a relay team where I pass the baton to him and he picks up where I left off,” Vidaurri said. Those scores were part of me. We met, we reflected on it, discussed things we could’ve done better and they’re moving forward. He hasn’t missed a beat and the staff is running.”

This attitude of putting students first is one she will implement at Sharyland, Vidaurri said.

“We’re going to get them even further than where they were at,” Vidaurri said of the Sharyland students. “We’re making sure all kids are given the same opportunities to make sure all kids are growing academically every year. Every student matters and we’re working on that.”