Two years ago we began a journey.
It was in June 2011, we first announced that we were going to put together a Strategic Plan for the Fort Worth ISD that would involve everyone – every person in our city who has an investment in the success of our students.
That’s exactly what we’ve done. We worked with employees, parents and students. We also began a new kind of collaboration with our community partners. We invited leaders from non-profit groups and community organizations to come to the table, as well as business leaders and representatives from higher education.
Everyone had a voice and everyone was heard.
We also employed a new way of doing business. The Fort Worth ISD adopted the Malcolm Baldrige model for continuous improvement in both student achievement and business operations as part of this Strategic Plan. Our ongoing analysis of everything we do will demand that we make adjustments quickly to maintain the achievement momentum we saw in early STAAR results a few weeks ago.
On Tuesday evening, May 14, the Fort Worth ISD Board of Education adopted the new Strategic Plan. By unanimous vote, our trustees set the District on a new course of continuous improvement.
On that evening, we unveiled our new motto, mission, vision and values, all crafted with the input of everyone at the table.
Our motto: Singleness of Purpose.
Our mission: Preparing students for success in college, career and community leadership.
Our vision: Igniting in every child a passion for learning.
• Student Achievement
• Stakeholder Collaboration
• Leadership Development
• Respect for Diversity
• Equity in Access
• Perseverance & Commitment
• Continuous Improvement
Driving all of our work will be our Strategic Goals:
Goal 1: Increase Student Achievement
Goal 2: Improve Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency
Goal 3: Enhance Family and Community Engagement
Goal 4: Develop a Workforce that is Student and Customer-Centered
Someone remarked that Tuesday evening was the end of a long process. Yes, it was a high point. But, the journey is just beginning.
This brings me to another presentation made at Tuesday’s meeting – a real example of our new Strategic Plan at work.
We shared a new way of recruiting, hiring and placing the best possible candidates for teaching in our schools. This is not a change in policy. It is a smart and systematic way to make sure that all of our campuses, regardless of their zip code or neighborhood, are staffed with only the best teachers.
We know that effective teachers are the key to a high-quality school. We also know that children in our lowest performing schools are systematically receiving the poorest service we can offer. Without effective teachers in every school, the achievement gap widens every year.
Research out of Harvard provides evidence. A couple of years ago, the Fort Worth ISD and three other school districts were the subject of a study there. It found that too many Fort Worth ISD teachers in schools serving the most-disadvantaged students were not as effective as they needed to be.
This reflects in large part the movement of more-experienced teachers away from schools with a higher proportion of lower-achieving students.
This must stop.
The presentation made Tuesday night is not about diminishing the quality of any school. It is about improving – in alignment with our Strategic Plan – the quality of every school. It is about raising the expectations of everyone who comes into our District to teach and be part of the already excellent group of educators now serving our kids.
If we can identify, hire and retain teachers who are committed to teaching all students and who will pour their hearts into teaching where we need them, our students will achieve.
On a final note, I ask that you join me in welcoming Matthew Avila to the Fort Worth ISD Board of Education. He was sworn in Tuesday evening with Norman Robbins and T.A. Sims. All three were unopposed in last Saturday’s elections. Of course, they and all the trustees are key participants in our journey toward excellence.
And, I thank you for your commitment to join us as we work toward a bright future for our children and our community. As one very appreciative student who participated in the strategic planning said Tuesday evening, "Please don’t quit on us."
Fort Worth ISD Superintendent