From an analysis of the data, observations of schools and interviews with district officials, the site visit team makes the following recommendations:
It is recommended that the district redouble its efforts in developing a revised program of continuous improvement and development of leadership talent among building principals and other administrators. Such executive development should include specific supervisory skill training and targeted leadership development.
Furthermore, it is recommended that the district explore a peer evaluation program which includes individuals in similar job roles on the evaluation teams of all building and central administrators. Administrative personnel found to be unsuitable for district leadership and supervisory roles should be offered an opportunity for defined outplacement services designed to assist the individual to make a proper career transition.
It is recommended the board of education adopt a new policy to require students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes to take the national AP exam in that area. It is further recommended the FWISD consider bearing the cost of the exams for all students. An analysis of gender equity in higher level math and science courses indicates a commendable effort on the part of the school district to provide opportunities for female students in these subject areas. This is not typical in the cohort group. On the other hand, the data indicate efforts need to be redoubled to recruit more African-American and Hispanic students into rigorous, pre-college math and science programs (Appendix B).
The audit team finds the grade point average is 2.85. The mean for the cohort group is 2.4 and the effectiveness level is 2.2. The district should encourage training programs for teachers to develop and implement instructional assessment strategies which will result in teachers assigning appropriate grades to the level of student work. Doing so will reward high quality work and will raise expectations for all students.
The Fort Worth I.S.D. has not passed a capital fund improvement campaign since 1985, thereby causing the district to house approximately 16,000-18,000 students in
420 temporary buildings. Temporary buildings appear to be becoming permanent buildings. The district should be commended for its clean and well-maintained buildings;
however, this comes at a high maintenance cost because of the ages of the buildings.
Some of the district's critical facilities needs are:
The district should establish a position for an assistant superintendent for instructional accountability (chief information officer), with authority to collect and analyze all data, establish
standards, validate results and carry out the responsibilities listed below. This individual will report directly to the superintendent. The addition of this position will buttress the current
efforts of the existing research and evaluation department.
Among the critical areas of data-based decision-making recommended as areas of responsibility for this position are the following:
Test data are used, particularly in the early elementary grades, for diagnostic purposes within the classroom. Such an approach does not capture needed information for the strategic deployment of instructional resources systemwide. The district should strengthen the current data analysis and dissemination program to include a school database, individual school standards, yearly benchmarks to be achieved, and regular reporting of school results as compared with other schools within the district and the state. Principals and other instructional leaders should be trained in understanding school demographics, school standards and strategies for improving school results.
Using comparative and longitudinal data to examine the instructional program can lead to improvement of student performance. The Fort Worth I.S.D. would benefit greatly from a coordinated instructional data management program in the central office, providing key decision-makers with the performance information necessary to target available resources. Creating a full-time professional position reporting to the chief instructional officer to shape and oversee district-wide instructional information management efforts would seem central to making data-based instructional decisions a success. It is a concrete step which the district could take to enhance and promote the priority of databased decision-making which will likely further student achievement.
Appendix F provides a model form for use in reporting progress toward district-wide goals as part of a data-based school accountability program.
In school systems as large, heterogeneous and complex as Fort Worth I.S.D., maintaining consistent and strong communication channels at all levels and with all groups is especially difficult. As a result, concerns about communication and participation are often expressed by parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in the school system.
In reviewing the responses to the perception survey, some statements dealing with aspects of communication and participation do not meet the effectiveness level of 2.0. For example, it is striking to note under the LEADERSHIP correlate that element B ranks as the number one concern to all three groups, and element G of the next greater concern:
In the MONITORING STUDENT PROGRESS correlate, the site visit team finds that all three groups note the following communication issue as the element of most concern in this area (H), while parents and teachers note element F is not in place:
Element H above may be directly related to element I in the HIGH EXPECTATIONS correlate, which is the element of most concern there:
By relating element H and element I above, it may be concluded that the school district needs to pay additional attention to communicating and explaining student test scores and the direct and measurable improvement that has been shown over the last three years in order to address concerns in both areas.
Therefore, the site visit team recommends attention be given to reviewing formal communication patterns within the district. The school system may wish to consider such communication tools as utilizing a dedicated cable television channel with frequently repeated programs convenient to parents and citizens to communicate student performance; instruction, policy, finance and program information of interest to parents, students, citizens, businesses and educators.
The district should implement a technology plan to provide equity for all students, with priority actions identified to address the learning needs of the poorest achieving students.
The audit team reviewed a Strategic Information Systems Plan conducted for the FWISD in April, 1998 by the international management consulting firm Deloitte & Touche, LLP, indicating that greater technology access should be considered for all children and young people. The report indicated:
Based on a review of the report and its own observations in classrooms, the audit team wishes to emphasize that it is important for the future learning needs of students to develop appropriate computer laboratories, transportation to and from computer facilities, and "check out" computers, especially for those students eligible for free and reduced price lunches. In addition, the FWISD is advised to:
|Previous Section: Commendations||Back to Table of contents||Next Section: Appendices|