TYLER - A renewed focus on community ownership and improving student outcomes was the focus of conversation at Tyler ISD’s annual State of the District luncheon Wednesday.
Superintendent Marty Crawford addressed dozens of businesses and community organizations in attendance about the successes of the district and areas he believes they could do better.
“We certainly have work to do. We punched through the glass ceilings at some of our campuses,” he said. “The data doesn’t tell the entire story, but it certainly tells us we need to do better.”
Crawford said the district’s primary focus must be on improving literacy rates. In the past three years, the district has gone from having 11 campuses struggling to make Texas Education Agency accountability ratings to just three. He said literacy will be key to bringing those campuses up.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but I will need you in this room to help make that happen,” he said. “Because, in an authentic way, it does not begin when they get to school and reading improvement does not only happen at school.”
He reiterated that his mantra has remained the same, “tradition will get you beat.”
Part of moving away from tradition has been a conscious effort to keep an open mind on direction from the Texas Education Agency as the district looks to remove the last three campuses from the improvement required list.
“More recently, (the Tyler ISD board of trustees) have had the awesome opportunity to spend 18 hours over two days to spend with Lone Star governance,” Crawford said. “While we might have been hesitant in attending that training and a little shy that it might have been bureaucratic in nature because TEA was executing that training, I think I can say … the execution is going to improve student outcomes.”
Crawford said he and the board were surprised to learn the new direction of the TEA feels more like a partnership than a regulatory agency.
“You’re going to see some changes to where your traditional view of a school board might be different,” he said. “If we’re going to get this going the right direction, it’s going to be about student outcomes.”
Another of the district’s successes has come in its relationship with minorities in the community. At 70 percent economically disadvantaged and with Hispanic students making up about 50 percent of the student population, the district has made great efforts to better serve students across all demographics.
“We need to write a new story for children who have historically been mislabeled because of where they live or their economic status,” he said.
With a focus on student outcomes and a renewed sense of ownership among the school board members, Crawford is optimistic Tyler ISD will keep moving forward.
- The district also handed out two awards - it’s community partner award and it’s distinguished alum award.
- Cooperative Teachers Credit Union was honored for its more than 60 years of support within the district.
- Mayor Martin Heines was honored as the district’s distinguished alum. Heines attended Andy Woods Elementary School and Hubbard Middle School before graduating from Robert E. Lee High School.
- Heines recently launched the Mayor’s Mentorship Achievement Program, which takes community members and puts them in a position to mentor high school seniors in need of guidance.
- “The kids mean everything to the future of this community,” Heines said. “They mean everything to the social and cultural growth of this community.”
- Heines asked the community to continue supporting the school board and its vision for Tyler ISD.