2014 Community Report Card

From the first day of Kindergarten until students earn their high school diploma, there are standards which should be met, every day in every classroom. It’s an expectation of students, staff, parents, community members and the district. State and federal guidelines cannot always address the standards by which students learn, as some standards are unique to each community.  

The Clear Creek Independent School District recently asked its taxpayers, “What are some characteristics one might use to judge the quality of a school district?” The results indicate they believe the best evaluation criteria is a variety of educational opportunities. STAAR test results ranked at the bottom. The community’s response helped frame CCISD’s Community-Based Accountability Report. The 28-page report and interactive dashboard are available online at www.ccisd.net. Over the next few weeks the school district will use this space to report results based on each community-ranked standard.

A Strong College Preparatory Program

This week the focus is on the district’s college preparatory program as 98% of those surveyed rated it as an important criteria. Just this month, the ACT released 2014 college-entrance exam composite scores for math, English, reading, and science. CCISD students scored an average of 24.1 compared to the state average of 20.9 and the national average of 21.0. The highest score possible is a 36.

ACT composite scores, on average, have increased year-to-year in CCISD since 2012. The number of students taking the ACT test increased to well over 1,000. Student performance on the SAT test is also above the state and national average. “These results are due to the hard work of our students and our committed teachers,” said CCISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith. “Our goal is to prepare our students for college, the work force and post-secondary success by providing them with engaging instruction and real world experiences. These results are one form of measurement that let us know we are on the right path.”

According to the CCISD Community-Based Accountability Report, other indicators include Advanced Placement coursework and exam results, earned college credits and workforce certifications, as well as student attendance and high school completion rates. In determining whether the district has a strong college preparatory program, CCISD analyzed where students land after high school. Ninety-seven percent of 2014 graduates enrolled in a two or four year college, joined the military, or directly entered the workforce. The top three Texas colleges admitting the most CCISD graduates are the University of Houston, The University of Texas and Texas A & M University.

Preparing students for academic success is just the tip of the iceberg. In August, counselors hosted a district-wide event for more than a thousand juniors and seniors. They learned the nuances of applying for college, how to juggle lifestyle and studies when they leave home, and how to find the right college fit. In November, the mission continues as the district hosts an event for students interested in attending a vocational or technical school.

Next week’s focus will be on updated CCISD facilities.

Updated Facilities

Take a drive around the area and you will be greeted with signs of economic progress. New subdivisions, schools and businesses are sprouting up in Galveston and Harris counties. In the Clear Creek Independent School District alone, enrollment increased by 600 students since April 2014. In order to stay ahead of the population growth, the school district has requested an updated demographic report from Templeton Demographics. In particular, CCISD is monitoring the steady increase in home construction around the Education Village as well as the Hall Elementary area. This report will be presented to the Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees at 4:30 p.m. on October 13.

While certainly exciting, there are challenges associated with this building boom. The Clear Creek Independent School District is experiencing them firsthand: a shortage of subcontractors and an overabundance of pending building permits at the municipality level. For example, the school district broke ground on the Clear Lake High School rebuild in May but still awaits a building permit from the City of Houston. It just received permission to start demolition last week. Due to a limited subcontractor pool, contractors are finding it difficult to fill certain jobs such as welders at Clear Brook High School. This is not a situation isolated to CCISD. Architects say some contractors have even hired additional security to keep competitors from approaching subcontractors on the job. Architects shared with the school board last week that construction projects across Houston are on hold due to a backlog of permit requests. Despite these obstacles, the architects and general contractors tell CCISD the completion dates for these large projects remain on schedule. Additionally, the $367 million bond program may cost taxpayers far less than what was approved by voters. The school district projects a total tax rate increase of $0.0425 versus the $0.1125 approved by voters in May 2013.

Updated school facilities are important components of a quality education, according to 94% of CCISD taxpayers who participated in a recent phone survey. This summer, construction began and was completed on ten schools just in time for the start of school. Campuses, including Ferguson Elementary, Hyde Elementary, Creekside Intermediate and Clear Springs High School in League City, received much needed repairs or additional square footage to accommodate the enrollment growth. Bulldozers have started demolition on McWhirter Elementary in Webster and the steel beams are in place at Challenger Columbia Stadium in League City. The architectural design for the rebuild completion of Clear Creek High School includes updated facilities for growing career and technical education programs, including Agriculture Science, Health Sciences, Construction Technology, Metal Manufacturing, and Engineering which supports Project Lead the Way students who are designing and creating hardware for the International Space Station.

Next week’s focus will be on community involvement.

High Levels of Community Involvement

It is no secret, and research proves it, parent and community involvement improves student performance. However, making the correlation between involvement and student performance is not as simple as tallying volunteer hours or donations collected. While certainly important indicators of a strong community partnership, a recent phone survey indicated parental involvement is the biggest challenge facing the Clear Creek Independent School District in 2014 compared to growth and overcrowding in 2009.

In its recent community-based accountability report, the Clear Creek Independent School District identified four indicators to measure parent involvement. How well is the school district doing in the area of communicating from school to home? Are teachers providing resources and information to parents so they can help their children learn at home? At what level are parents involved in the decision-making process and provided opportunities to participate in school activities?

In the area of general school-to-home communications, the district improved from 81% to 89% satisfaction rate between 2009 and 2014. Nine out of 10 parents feel welcome at school and 92% of parents surveyed are satisfied with their involvement in the decision-making process. Sixty-three percent of parents in CCISD felt empowered to help their children at home based on the feedback from teachers. “While this percentage is up by five points over five years, the school district has developed action plans to ensure parents are our partners in every way and that we have given them the tools to support learning at home,” said Dr. Greg Smith, Superintendent of Schools. Such plans include creating a more robust parent portal where families can instantaneously access student grades, homework assignments, and communicate with teachers through one system. Currently, these tasks require multiple systems with different log-ins.

Additionally, the school district is expanding its efforts to assist families through those critical transitions of entering kindergarten, intermediate, high school and college. The Tomorrow Begins Today parent seminars are now online and will be incorporated in parent nights at the campus level.

Comprehensive Fine Arts Program

Whether it is on stage, on the field or in the classroom, the Clear Creek Independent School District fine arts program is truly a masterpiece, a perfect blend of visual arts and performing arts as evidenced in many recent accomplishments.

The League City Intermediate School Band, under the direction of Rick Brockway, and Westbrook Intermediate Advanced Band, under the leadership of Maria Robichaud, have been selected as National Wind Band Honors National Winners by the Foundation for Music Education. Judges remarked, “Absolutely delightful,” and “I am ecstatic for the education of these children” when referring to the performances by the League City band. The National Wind Band Honors Project is a national competition where schools enter recordings of the year’s performances and each performance is then reviewed by nationally-recognized conductors. Clear Creek ISD was well represented with Clear Creek High School earning national honors and Bayside Intermediate with commendations.

During the month of October alone, the school district celebrated major milestones from record attendance at Imagination Celebration where hundreds of students got their hands dirty and their minds inspired through art, to the sweet sound of teamwork at the ExtravaBANDza where the District’s five marching bands performed their individual competitive routines at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“In this wildly isolating technological age, now more than ever, our children need to be physically and socially connected to their peers,” said Dean Muths, Director of Visual and Performing Arts. “Participation in the fine arts program provides students this connection in an appropriate and beneficial setting.” With more than 50% of high school students electing to participate in some form of fine arts, customer satisfaction is critical to the program’s growth and success. Based on a 2014 survey of parents, 87% of respondents gave the school district an A or B for overall quality.

Participation in the arts is not exclusive to high profile groups such as band and orchestra. In fact during the October general school board meeting, a CCISD student with special needs showcased his artwork as part of CCISD’s nationally recognized Adult Community Education Services program. The program is designed to help graduates with special needs transition successfully into the workforce. Adam Cline, a former Clear Springs High School student, receives commission for creating artwork for clients. “We walk through the transition with the student and family to learn about barriers and hurdles they must jump to make that successful transition to adult life. We want our students to be part of their community and we make that happen for young adults like Adam and many others,” said Townsley Raposa, CCISD’s ACES program coordinator.