by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--MISD must improve performance in the Bilingual and ESL programs or suffer state-level repercussions. NewsWest 9 spoke with the district's new Superintendent about how he plans to address the problem.
Dr. Ryder Warren publishes a monthly article where, he says, he will share the districts good and bad news. This month's news was bad.
Warren spoke very candidly about the problems Midland ISD is facing with the Bilingual and ESL programs. He also spoke very positively about how they plan to deal with it.
"We're going to jump in, right now, and make sure these kids are being successful," Dr. Warren said.
Dr. Warren brings over 20 years of experience in education to the Midland Independent School District. He also has children who are students within the School District. He knew, full well, what he was getting himself into when he took the job.
"When Superintendents look at school districts to apply, if you feel it's a good opportunity, you always do your homework. I knew the ESL/Bilingual program was going to be a focus for us, coming into it," Warren explained.
When people hear the words bilingual education, they immediately think Spanish speaking students. Dr. Warren says in his district, there are so many more than that, "There are 17 different languages spoken. Most of the kids in our Bilingual/ESL programs are Spanish speakers. But, we have 16 others that we also serve."
Out of 22,000 students enrolled at MISD, about 1,700 are in a bilingual classroom. The majority of them are in elementary. The Texas Education Agency says, based on TAKS scores, the message just wasn't getting through to them.
According to TEA spokesperson Suzanne Marchman, "They were identified as having problems. Those students were struggling academically on the TAKS test, compared to the other students in the district. So, they were placed on an intervention schedule."
During that intervention, school district officials will be required to get help in implementing an improvement plan to get these students up to speed with everyone else. There will also be constant communication with TEA.
"From everything we hear at this point, the Superintendent is willingly moving forward to work with the technical assistants from the service center and move forward with correcting this problem," Marchman said.
"It's our challenge. It's on us. It's on me. I am personally responsible for the education of all kids. Not some of them. Not most of them, but all kids have got to be served in our schools," Dr. Warren said.
In the event the district doesn't meet state guidelines again, the TEA could ultimately bring in a state level conservator to take over the decision making responsibilities of the Superintendent and School Board.
Dr. Warren says that's something he doesn't plan on letting happen, "We're going to take care of our own. These kids are ours. They're going to stay ours and we're going to serve them just like we do the rest of our kids."
There is good news for MISD. Dr. Warren says that test scores from last Spring are in and there has already been some improvement. The district has been upgraded from a stage four to a stage three and he's confident they will get the top rating of zero very soon.