OURschools

  • Opportunities & Choice For Every Family

    Click on a commitment or strategy for detailed information.

Commitment 1: Best-in-Class Specialized Programs

While "school choice" is often used synonymously with "charter schools," "magnet" and/or "open enrollment," we define "choice" at Spring ISD simply as strong academic options that create and expand opportunities for our students. By creating more opportunities and more choice within the district, it is our hope that we can build a strong reputation as a "district of choice" – with families choosing to live within our district because of our innovative, specialized programs.

This is our vision for the district and it is also a key part of our strategic plan. The following five strategies are designed to increase opportunities and choice for every family in the district:

Strategy 1: Expand Career Pathways Across All High Schools

Although all the district's comprehensive high schools currently offer career pathways for students, only Carl Wunsche Sr. High School has advanced technical labs where students can actually explore and learn the details and nuances of their particular career pathway in a hands-on manner. This needs to change. All of our high school students should have the opportunity – if they desire – to explore a career pathway with hands-on learning.

As such, we will develop specialized pathways at all of the district's comprehensive high schools, which include opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to real-world experiences through lab work, mentoring, job shadowing and internships. Advanced labs to support these programs will be constructed at the district's three comprehensive high schools over the next two to three years.

Please note that the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School will also be enriched with strengthened CTE programming and expanded internship opportunities. Carl Wunsche Sr. High School has been the district's pioneer in rigorous CTE programming. As such, best practices and lessons learned there will be applied to any new career pathway established in the district.

Lastly, the district will continue its work to ensure alignment between the career pathways offered at the district and endorsements to college majors/degrees and careers.

Strategy 2: Expand Dual-Credit Opportunities Across All High Schools

The benefits of dual-credit courses for high school students are numerous, including:

  • Students who participate in dual-credit courses have an easier transition to college – increasing the likelihood of success in college
  • Students who participate in dual-credit courses are more likely to graduate from high school and institutes of higher education
  • Students who participate in dual-credit courses reduce the cost of a higher education
  • Students who participate in dual-credit courses gain skills required in college: time management skills, critical thinking skills and study skills
  • Students may graduate high school with a technical certification and/or Associate's degree

As such, we have clear plans to increase the opportunities for students to participate in dual-credit courses. These plans include:

  • Strengthen and expand our university partnerships
  • Better market the district's dual-credit offering to students and families
  • Increase the variety of dual-credit courses offered by including more Career and Technology Education (CTE) dual-credit courses
  • Better identify Spring ISD teachers who are qualified or who could easily become qualified to teach dual-credit courses
    • Conduct a review of current teachers to identify those who have a master's degree and 18 hours in a specific major such as biology, mathematics, engineering, etc.
  • Recruit more teachers to the district who are qualified to teach dual-credit courses

Strategy 3: Expand Pre-AP and AP Course Offerings Across All High Schools

Taking Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses in middle school and high school helps students build the skills that they will need in college. Additionally, these courses on a student's transcript signal to colleges and universities that students have the required skills to be successful in their undergraduate studies, aiding many students in the college admissions process. Lastly, students may be able to save money by taking AP courses since they could potentially earn college credits.

For all of these reasons and more, the district needs to strengthen its Pre-AP and AP course offering. The district's current Pre-AP and AP offering is limited and student participation in these courses is low. Additionally, across the district's secondary schools there are inconsistent practices in educating students and families on the benefits of taking Pre-AP and AP courses. As such, we have clear plans to increase the opportunities for students to participate in Pre-AP and AP courses. These plans include:

  • Improve the district's Pre-AP and AP curriculum and share best practices across schools
  • Better identify Spring ISD teachers who would make excellent Pre-AP and AP teachers
  • Improve counselor training and practices so counselors are better able to identify and recruit students into Pre-AP and AP courses
  • Implement consistent practices on the administration of the PSAT so we can improve early identification of students who show potential for success in advanced placement courses
  • Create a course catalogue with course pathways and prerequisites for all AP courses beginning in 6th grade
  • Better market the district's Pre-AP and AP offering to students and families
  • Establish a Parent University to help educate parents on the benefits of AP courses and how to help their children be successful in AP courses
  • Establish a college mentorship program

Strategy 4: Implement Strong Gifted and Talented Programs Across All Schools

Elementary level:

The district will ensure that newly designed gifted and talented curriculum is embedded into the district's grade-level curriculum across all elementary schools starting in the 2015-2016 school year. The new curriculum will include interesting projects and rigorous activities that allow gifted and talented students to creatively demonstrate their learning.

The following work will also be completed during the 2015-2016 school year by our academics department:

  • Thorough review of gifted and talented research with a focus on best practices at the elementary level
  • Identification of new gifted and talented assessment tools, including a universal screener for kindergarten students
  • Determine which gifted and talented elementary instruction model is a best fit for the students and families of Spring ISD, including an evaluation of the potential implementation of gifted and talented classrooms at the elementary level
  • Establish clear gifted and talented instructional goals
  • Determine instructional and support resources needed for successful programming
  • Begin holding informational meetings with Spring ISD parents, families and community at large

Secondary level:

Efforts to improve curriculum and instruction for gifted and talented students at the secondary level will be accomplished through the implementation of rigorous Pre-AP and AP curriculum across all middle and high schools. Currently, there is limited and/or inconsistent access to Pre-AP and AP curriculum for our secondary students. We are committed to changing this through an expanded Pre-AP and AP offering – with students and families seeing more courses offered each year of our five-year plan.

Strategy 5: Implement Strong Dual-Language Programs at Select Schools

Proficiency in a second language is a valuable skill for our students to have when they head to college or enter the workforce. Additionally, years of research on bilingualism shows that students who are proficient in a second language exhibit higher levels of academic achievement over the long term in comparison to their monolingual peers.

In response to the documented benefits of second language acquisition, the district will implement dual-language programs at select elementary schools starting in the 2016-2017 school year. Please note that these programs will only be implemented at the Pre-K and Kindergarten level in year one of their implementation at each campus. Each year an additional grade level will be added until a campus reaches full implementation in the 5th grade.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the following work will be completed in preparation for the launch of our dual-language programs at select elementary schools:

  • Thorough review of dual-language research with a focus on best practices
  • Determination which dual-language instruction design is a best fit for the students and families of Spring ISD
  • Establish clear dual-language goals
  • Develop detailed timeline for dual-language implementation both for the district and for each campus selected to offer dual language
  • Determine instructional and support resources needed for successful programming
  • Develop a Human Resources recruitment plan to support dual-language teaching needs
  • Begin holding informational meetings with Spring ISD parents, families and community at large

Commitment 2: Excellent Early Childhood Programs

Education is a lifelong experience that begins the moment a child is born. Studies clearly show that students involved in high-quality prekindergarten programs do better in both literacy and mathematics than their counterparts across the nation. Likewise, recent research is showing strong results for home-based school readiness programs where districts reach out to future students and their families – even before they register for school – providing parents guidance on home activities that will help their children start prekindergarten or kindergarten on solid footing.

Because we base our decisions on what is best for our students, we feel compelled to expand and improve our early childhood programs with the following strategies:

Strategy 1: Expand Pre-K Offering Across the District

Providing our youngest learners with the foundation they need for academic achievement later in life requires a commitment to high-quality pre-K programs. We will begin by conducting a needs analysis of facilities, staff, transportation, curriculum and professional development necessary for implementing full-day instruction. In addition, we will explore the viability of establishing pre-K centers in strategic locations that would serve the needs of students across the district. The ultimate goal is to provide pre-K services to all 4-year-olds universally, regardless of whether they meet the state-outlined eligibility requirements.

Strategy 2: Design and Implement Innovative and Rigorous Pre-K Curriculum

Meeting the needs of each young child where they are when they come to us will require a solid curriculum that incorporates the necessary standards, provides building blocks for literacy, focuses on oral language development and builds problem-solving and comprehension skills. Integration of technology in daily lessons will prepare our pre-K students as 21st century learners.

We believe wholeheartedly that high-quality teaching drives student learning; therefore, our curriculum strategy will include a component focused on training and support for teachers. We will create a professional development framework that improves and supports pre-K teacher instruction across the district and make sure that systems are in place to ensure our pre-K teachers and early childhood professionals are respected and able to complete their responsibilities with confidence and competence through consistent planning opportunities and professional learning communities.

Strategy 3: Develop Pre-K Home-Based School Readiness Programs

Offering our families opportunities to choose what best fits the needs of their students is a high priority. A pre-K home-based school-readiness program will be a viable option for families. In order to offer that option, we will develop a research-based plan that includes the components of communications; strong partnerships between families, caregivers and educators; and collaborations with community-based organizations. Initially, pilot programs will be launched in a coordinated effort across the district. Recognizing that parents are their child's first teacher, we will provide Family Literacy Nights that encourage families to read books together in their home.

Commitment 3: Strong College Readiness Support Structure

As we engage in the day-to-day work of educating our students, we must always keep in mind that the education we as a district offer will serve as a foundation upon which our students will build for the rest of their lives. We must also remember that, after they graduate and leave our classrooms, we send them off into a complex world where – in order to both survive and thrive – much will be required of them. This means we need to ensure that they are prepared to be lifelong learners, and that they are ready to contribute, compete, and lead in today's global society. Increasingly, that means preparing students to engage successfully in post-secondary studies.

As a district with high expectations, we must strive to create a college-bound mindset and a culture that expects students to continue their education beyond the secondary level. We must strongly encourage students to participate in AP courses and AP exams. We must provide them easy access to the SAT and ACT and help them prepare for these exams. And we must address head-on the limiting stereotypes (cultural, socio-economic, etc.) about higher education that so often keep our kids from thinking that they are "college material." Lastly, teachers, counselors and administrators must connect students with college preparation resources, including helping them to understand and navigate the financial aid landscape.

In the end, we're here to help broaden students' horizons, to expand their vision of the world and their place in it, and to encourage them to see a bigger range of choices. More than any specific end goal, we want to endow our graduates with a sense of the possible. The following strategies will be instituted to foster college readiness:

Strategy 1: Implement Comprehensive College Preparation Programs Across All High Schools

As a district, we want to ensure that all of our students have access to the resources they need to make the most of their education, and that means making comprehensive college preparation programs available across all our high schools. While college preparation is already an important focus for many within the district, our current high school campus improvement plans do not consistently focus on comprehensive college preparation, and this is something that needs to change.

Some of the next steps in this process include:

  • Providing both middle and high school students opportunities to learn more about themselves by reflecting on their strengths and interests through tools such as Gallup Strengths Explorer
  • Creating opportunities for students to connect their college and career planning efforts to specific goals by equipping counselors, teachers and parents with the tools and data needed to effectively monitor and coach students
  • Creating and supporting a college-going culture by encouraging all students to explore post- secondary education options through online applications such as Naviance
  • Helping to develop family awareness through college preparation meetings

Strategy 2: Ensure High-Level Student Participation in College Entrance Exams

Part of college preparedness is understanding and being prepared for college entrance exams. While bulk registration for the PSAT/SAT is currently a district practice, only 89% of our ninth and tenth-grade students participate, and many students lack an awareness of the benefits involved in taking and doing well on these tests. Some of the steps involved in changing this include:

  • Providing information – in multiple languages – to parents and students about the benefits of taking the PSAT and SAT and offering preparation workshops and meetings
  • Training counselors on how to better use the SAT and PSAT results to support students
  • Promoting the correlation between SAT scores and college entrance
  • Providing teachers with training on how to use the PSAT and SAT results when planning classroom instruction
  • Building interest in attending college before high school, including highlighting the SAT/PSAT and talking with younger students about the benefits

Strategy 3: Foster a College Bound Culture prekindergarten-12

Although we as a district are in the practice of speaking favorably about the benefits of a college-bound culture, there is currently no detailed overarching plan to encourage and grow that culture. Campuses spotlight college banners in prominent locations, and college is at times a regular topic of discussion in classrooms, but it can still seem a distant reality, especially for first-generation students whose parents have no experience with post-secondary education. College information is out there, but it is not being presented consistently throughout the district. To remedy this, a few of our next steps include:

  • Integrating college and career awareness activities into classroom lessons
  • Further establishing school environments that visually encourage a college-bound culture
  • Utilizing the district's own curriculum as well as supplemental educational programs to provide every student with rigorous instruction that will ensure they meet grade-level standards and excel, in college and beyond
  • Creating greater opportunities for students to set goals, enroll in dual-credit and advanced placement courses, participate in public speaking, and increase critical thinking skills
  • Working as a districtwide team to meet our students' needs with interventions such as mentoring, counseling, tutorials, and extracurricular activities aimed at motivating, inspiring and urging them to work hard at reaching their full potential, no matter what they choose to do after graduation!

Performance Indicators

    • Increased offerings and participation in advanced coursework
    • Increased offerings and participation in programs and schools of choice
    • Create a college-bound and career-ready culture through purposeful programming, K-12
    • % of teachers proficient in technology tools to actively engage learners and increase student achievement
    • % of schools with full wireless access
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