Ratings Announcement

DeSoto ISD makes gains, receives upgraded TEA accountability rating
Posted on 08/16/2019
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DeSoto ISD recently received the 2019 accountability ratings from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Based on the results, the district as a whole moved from a 67 (D) to a 79 (C).

We are proud that the system validates the hard work weve been doing,” Superintendent Dr. DAndre Weaver said. Its no secret that last year was a turbulent year for our district, but through it all, we worked diligently to put the focus on academics and what was happening in the classroom.”

Dr. Weaver was named the districts superintendent of schools this past September. Since his arrival, he has worked to assess the districts systems and programs and develop plans for improvement. As a result, the district made tremendous gains and missed receiving the state’s B rating by just one point.

“Our Board of Trustees made some tough and necessary decisions to put the district on a path to rapid improvement,” he said. “These efforts helped us make some enormous strides this past year and we’re looking forward to really putting great systems and support for students, teachers and campuses in place so that we can see more improvement.

In addition, to the districts academic improvement, DeSoto High School saw significant gains with a 10-point increase moving its accountability rating from a 70 (C) to an 80 (B).

We are pleased with the letter grade we received this year. For us, the grade represents the growth we have shown academically,DeSoto High School Principal Shon Joseph said. We feel the systems we have implemented have been instrumental in uniting our campus toward a common goal. Our students are informed about their progress, teachers are meeting and discussing data, and we are focused on continuous improvement.

The ratings were calculated from tests students took in December, March and May of th2018-2019 school year. Overall, the district received five total TEA Academic Distinctions in the areas of closing achievement gaps, college readiness and academic performance.

DeSoto ISD Chief of Research, Evaluation and Design Benjamin Mackey said that while the goal of the A-F system is to give parents a sense of how a school and a district are performing at a glance, it is only just a piece of a larger puzzle.

Our principals, teachers and staff all know that the work we do in education is multi-faceted and the A-F score doesnt capture everything,” he said. Factors like climate and culture, discipline, safety, community engagement, organizational & financial health are not accounted for in the A-F system, but are critically important parts of student achievement and a districts success.

This past spring, Dr. Weaver and members of the District Leadership Team held campus and community conversations to share information and get feedback regarding the district 20192020 priorities.

We have developed plans to address improvements in several critical domains which we are calling our FOCUS priorities,Chief of Staff Sonya Cole-Hamilton said. “FOCUS stands for Fiscal Management, Organizational Management, Campuses and Classrooms, Unity and creating Sustainability through Systems.

Cole-Hamilton furthered explained that the C in FOCUS encompasses academics and social and emotional wellness, while the U centers around plans to improve internal and external communication.

In the area of fiscal management, Interim Chief Financial Officer Deborah Cabrera said that the district has improved.

“The budget cuts and staffing reductions were difficult, but necessary, decisions in order to keep us on the path to financial recovery,she said. Last year, we made some tough decisions to yield long-term gains.

As a result of these efforts, Fitch Ratings has affirmed the A+ underlying rating for DeSoto ISD. In addition, Fitch has removed DeSoto ISD from credit-watch status.

“The A+ rating reflects Fitch's expectation that carrying costs and long-term liabilities wilremain a moderate burden, and that, at this time, it is anticipated that no other borrowings will be needed to balance operations,” Cabrera said. “However, we are going to have to sustain the staffing and budget cuts for at least three years in order to rebuild our fund balance to the desired level.

With these plans in place, the district is predicting continued improvement.

We have identified our critical areas, have developed plans and are training staff to be responsive,Dr. Weaver said. This year is about redesigning our systems to ensure that we are preparing our students to graduate college and career-ready with the ability to think critically, communicate effectively and compete globally. We are focused on their future, not our past.