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Liberty County schools receive report cards

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It was report card time for Liberty county's seven school districts this week, and while some performed better than others, every district passed by current state standards. 

The Texas Education Agency released the results grading 1,195 school districts across the state for the first time since COVID-19 threw schools into what state officials deemed a state of disaster.

"These results show our state's significant investment in the post-pandemic academic recovery of Texas public school students is bearing fruit," said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. "I'm grateful for the driving force behind this year's success: our teachers and local school leaders. Statewide policy in Texas continues to remain focused on meeting the needs of students, with an accountability system that supports high expectations, robust tutoring supports, rigorous curricular resources, and an investment in evidence-based training for our teachers."

Leading the pack locally was Devers ISD, as the district continues to rack up accolades in that community, which consists of an elementary and junior high campus. Both campuses netted an A, like the district. Last school year, Devers Elementary was also nominated as a Blue Ribbon School.

In Cleveland, Hardin, Liberty, and Tarkington ISDs all did well, garnering a B rating from the TEA this year.

For CISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless, there is a lot of excitement on the county's north end with the highest rating for that district since the establishment of this rating system.

"With our rapid growth and all the other challenges the District has faced, this is a tremendous accomplishment by the staff across the District," McCanless said.
CISD is not only the fastest growing district in the county but the entire state of Texas, and with that comes new challenges that school officials will have to look into next school year to keep up with this marked improvement.

"We are going to look at what we did this past school year that got us to where we are, and we will improve on the areas that will increase our scores even higher," he continued, "I am extremely proud of all CISD staff who dedicated their energy to not only make the students successful but the district as well. I am the proudest superintendent in Texas at the release of this news from Texas Education Agency."

McCanless is optimistic that CISD will continue to do what is necessary to improve upon this year's scores and is motivated to see the great things ahead.

"The Big Red ‘C’ has arrived, so move out of the way!!" concluded McCanless.

In Hardin, there is a lot of excitement for Superintendent Scott Mackey and staff in Hornet country.

"I'm very excited. It just goes to show all of the hard work we did over the last year is coming to fruition," said Mackey.

HISD improved slightly this year, going from an 84 in 2019 to an 87.

"When you see improvement, you want to celebrate with your folks," said Mackey.

Mackey believes there is much more improvement ahead for the district, which saw a great summer of educators trying to improve their efforts through peer training programs under the leadership of Dr. Ashlee Booth.

"They were coming up helping because they want to get better," said Mackey.

LISD Superintendent Cody Abshier is excited about this year's report card, and some of the designations garnered at several campuses.

“These scores are identical to the rating we had in 2019, proving LISD has worked very hard,” Abshier continued, “our people have done a really good job to get back where we were before COVID,”

At the high school, Liberty was recognized for its overall Science and Comparative Academic Growth.

Another significant accomplishment for LISD was at the elementary level, where four testing subjects saw a 10% increase since 2020-21, third-fifth grade reading all included.

Abshier believes LISD will take a hard look at itself and find areas to improve and strengthen, just like each district.

“Every community has its own set of challenges,” Abshier concluded.

Dayton and Hull-Daisetta ISDs received a rating of C this year, and administrators and educators hope to see continued improvements.

Asst. Superintendent of Student Services Travis Young acknowledges there is much work to do in DISD but pointed to some marked improvements at the high school.

"While we acknowledge there is much work to do, we are proud of the accomplishments of our students and staff in areas where gains were made, such as Dayton High School's 'Math Distinction,’” said Young.

Young believes there are several areas the district has already begun an effort to improve.

“We continue to work diligently toward improvement while focusing on specific areas as we move forward. We have implemented some new changes during the summer to help close the academic gap from the pandemic. We have reshaped our summer school practices, focused on hiring high-quality staff and made curriculum revisions for the betterment of our district,” said Young.

HDISD joined Dayton with a C rating, and Superintendent Tim Bartram feels the district held tight through the pandemic and stayed on par with the last assessment in 2019.

“The last accountability rating we have to compare to was the Spring of 2019. Looking at side-by-side comparisons of 2019 and 2022, I feel the district did pretty well considering the learning loss that occurred because of COVID and other district mitigating factors such as economically disadvantaged numbers, mobility rates, and homeless rates,” said Bartram.

The district's mobility rate and homelessness numbers come in at just over thirty percent of the district and have a big effect on learning, Bartram believes.

“These factors have a major effect on student learning, and combined with the COVID learning loss, it has been a challenge, to say the least. However, we have hard-working and caring teachers, along with fabulous support staff. I am confident between the staff and the measures implemented to combat these factors, HDISD will continue to improve in student learning and outcomes,” concluded Bartram.

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