Grapeland Elementary Hosts Open House

Accountability Rating Discussed

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Elementary School held its first Open House of the year on Monday, Sept. 16 to acquaint parents and guardians with their child’s progress, to continue to develop the relationship between the school, the parents and the students and also to provide those in attendance with a report on the school’s accountability.

Before the eager students led their parents to the classrooms, Elementary Principal Cassie Satterwhite, Director of Instruction Ginger Arbuckle and Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson addressed the attendees.

Satterwhite provided the welcome and turned the program over to Arbuckle who spoke about the elementary campus accountability score.

“Some years we’re excited to talk about accountability and some years we’re not. But, every year regardless of our excitement or our disappointment, we always know there is work we need to do. Whether it’s positive or negative, the students are our first concern and we want to do what’s best for the student,” she said.

“The first thing I want to talk about is our elementary accountability rating for 2019,” Arbuckle continued. “Grapeland Elementary did become identified for comprehensive support. This is the first year that the elementary has received an overall rating of ‘F’. I know how you heard for a couple of years, districts were given a grade of A, B, C, D or F. This year they added the campuses.”

To help bring the elementary campus grade to a satisfactory or above level, Arbuckle explained state mandated comprehensive support included: establishing a District Coordinator of School Improvement (Arbuckle); training; a self-assessment; public meetings; a facilitated effective school framework diagnostic; a targeted improvement plan; a board hearing on the targeted improvement plan; and the ongoing submission of plans and progress to the Texas Education Agency. 

Once she concluded, Arbuckle yielded the floor back to Satterwhite.

“Last week, Mrs. Arbuckle, Mr. Jackson, myself and Mrs. (Amanda) Kincade sat down and looked at what we were doing on our campus and we gave ourselves a rating. We talked about the good things and some things we haven’t started yet and some areas we need to improve on,” Satterwhite said.

The principal said two of the areas identified for improvement were support and instruction while the other was in curriculum.

The next item, covered by the administrators, concerned Title One Schools defined as “… the nation’s oldest and largest federally funded program, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Annually, it provides over $14 billion to school systems across the country for students at risk of failure and living at or near poverty.”

Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson concluded the program with a review of the progress the school district had made in the last two years.

“Last year, our district received a ‘D.’ I believe the high school had a ‘D,’ the junior high had a ‘C,’ and the elementary also had a ‘C.’ This year rolled around and the district received a ‘B,’ a really good improvement. The junior high received a ‘C’ and the high school received a ‘B,’” he explained.

Jackson said the reason for the improvement was a focus on both the high school and junior high but die to some unforeseen circumstances at the elementary, the rating dropped.

“We are not proud of that at all. We are developing a plan and we will come back. Our rating is based on STAAR tests in grades three through five. The SAAR results give us our rating A through F. It is on us. It is not indicative of our teachers. I think we have great teachers and administrators. Sometimes circumstances – on a test that is given one or two days out of the year – are not good,” he said.

“So,” Jackson continued, “What do we do? We regroup, put together a great plan and put that plan in place. We are excited to be in our new building and we are excited things to help our education. Overall, as a district, we are improving.”          

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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