All state standards met for PAISD

Published 11:06 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released its 2017 accountability ratings Tuesday. The accountability ratings are the metric by which public schools either meet the state standard or require improvement.

All of Port Arthur ISD schools met the state standard, striking a perfect record for the first time since the current accountability system was introduced in 2013.

“We never gave up. Our staff never gave up. Our teachers took hold of a lot (and) they ensured our children were successful,” PAISD superintendent Mark Porterie said.

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Porterie credited much of the success to planning, communication and the individuals who oversaw the academic strategies and turnaround plan for the affected schools, Memorial High School and Staff Sergeant Lucian Adams Elementary.

Porterie admitted the district had to face up to its own shortcomings and address them.

“A lot of the responsibility had to come from us,” he said. “We couldn’t say the student didn’t have a positive home life or couldn’t attend after-school tutorials. …

“We couldn’t put the blame on others and we didn’t want to.”

Porterie lauded the attention and efforts of both Memorial and Adams faculty and parents. The two schools had not met standards the previous year, according to TEA.

Porterie mentioned one of the ways they addressed the two schools’ IR (Improvement Required) ratings was to introduce in-school tutorial sessions for students.

“We understand a lot of our children don’t come to after-school or before-school tutorials,” Porterie said. “Our students work. They have siblings they care of. They do a lot. So, it’s hard for them to come to (these) tutorials.

“So, we had to find a way to add or incorporate school tutorials in the school day.”

Porterie said an important thing the district learned was “how to assess what you’re doing and create accountability for yourself.”

He said while the state creates its own accountability system through measures like STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) and EOC (End of Curriculum), PAISD should have its own way of monitoring itself.

“We have to have our own assessment in order to redirect us and move forward. You can’t just move forward without asking if you see progress first.”

Porterie placed special emphasis on TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. It is the state metric by which students demonstrate their expected knowledge and skillset.

He said the district learned the benefit of focusing students on the state curriculum (TEKS) as opposed to the state assessment.

“You can’t start the school year with teaching about STAAR and EOC,” Porterie said. “They will teach themselves if you teach the (state) standards.”

Porterie also emphasized differentiated instruction for PAISD students.

“Every child is not taught the same; every student is taught differently,” he said. “You have to know your students.”

As for the sterling state accountability rating PAISD had received from TEA this year, Porterie seemed in high spirits.

“I think it’s a wonderful springboard. We’re nowhere near where we want to be, but it’s encouraging to see progress,” he said.

“When you’re working hard, you have to see progress in order to be energized to go to the next level.”

Thirteen schools in the Golden Triangle area did not meet state standards. Ten were from Beaumont ISD and three were from West Orange-Cove.

The TEA compiles data and statistics such as student graduation rates and standardized test scores to create the rating system.