During a special meeting of the Fort Bend ISD board on Monday, members heard a summary of the district's Texas Academic Performance Report for 2020-21, an annual compilation of data across a range of performance indicators. The report, required by the Texas Education Agency, is released after all of the district's appeals on any of the indicators have been resolved.
While Fort Bend ISD performs better than the state and Region 8 averages on most academic indicators, there were some aspects that concerned board members.
Position 7 board member David Hamilton asked staff about the gaps in academic achievement between racial groups. While Asian-Americans and white students fared generally well, the statistics of Black and Hispanic students in both the elementary and secondary levels was not as high.
Hamilton asked if there was any way to explain those gaps. Dr. Lisa Coston, the district's director of accountability, assessment and compliance, told Hamilton that the staff would begin working on a written response.
Hamilton praised what he said was the district's focus in recent years in instilling discipline, saying that in his own life, discipline (or the lack thereof) has been fundamental to how well he did academically, in athletics, or professionally.
"We need to recognize that discipline is a good word, and it should not be moved one way or another based on racial groups," he said.
Board secretary Dr. Shirley Rose-Gilliam asked that the district leadership more directly apply the data from the annual reports to campuses' individual improvement plans.
Rose-Gilliam also asked about the section of the report that showed a year-to-year increase in violent or criminal behavior statistics on campuses.
Board president Kristen Malone pointed to a year-over-year increase in the dropout rate, saying that students who drop out of high school are statistically more prone to imprisonment, substance abuse or homelessness.
"This breaks my heart," she said.
Superintendent Christie Whitbeck provided some context to the dropout rate, noting that during the first year of the COVID pandemic, many students moved away from the district or even the state, and many of them ended up being "lost" in the system. The district also was closed longer than any other district in the state during the pandemic, exacerbating the statistical difference.
The full TAPR report, which runs more than 150 pages, will be made available on the district website, www.fortbendisd.com, within two weeks.
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