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2008-2009 Annual Report
The Power of Us
To the Austin Community,
Since becoming your School Superintendent just a few months ago, my commitment to Austin ISD grows deeper every day. As the bumper sticker says, "I wasn't born here, but I got here as fast as I could."
Austin is an incredible city. Did you know that we're in the top five on lists of U.S. cities that are rated for best places to Relocate Families, the Most Connected (internet), Smartest Places to Live, Most Educated, Most Fit, Fastest Growing, and, my favorite, Coolest? And here's what else I want to make happen. I want that list to include: Best Public School District. And, with your help, there's no reason we can't get there. We just have to tap into the power of Austin ISD, the power of Austin, the power of aUStin, the Power of Us.
As I meet and talk with individuals throughout the District, I am most impressed by the quality and the commitment of the staff in Austin; the engagement of parents and families in the education of their children; and the support of the community for public education. Those observations have been reinforced with every teacher I meet, every school I visit, and every community gathering that I attend. I am excited to have become part of this great community - to become a leader in advancing education to new heights - and I pledge to work tirelessly to realize high academic achievement for all our students. I ask only that you join in this effort, so that the Power of US becomes a truly dynamic force for change for our students.
This 2009 Annual Report is a baseline of where we begin our work. Data presented here reveal where we have achieved success. (Please see the apples for the best news about the District.) I'm proud to report to you that we have 54 state-rated Exemplary and Recognized schools - 20 more than last year! That's almost half of all our campuses. Seven AISD schools also were listed in Newsweek's "Top U.S. High Schools in the Nation" in 2009; and total SAT scores exceeded both state and national averages.
But the data from last year also show us where we have much more work to do. As a district, we failed to meet the Federal Adequate Yearly Progress standard for the first time. We have eight Academically Unacceptable schools - with some on that list for multiple years. Regular attendance remains a problem, even in the elementary grades. Poor attendance leads to a higher probability that a student may not complete high school - and our numbers show that problem too. Our completion rate is only 74 percent.
Right here, right now, AISD faces these, and other, formidable challenges. What are we going to do about it? We're going to fix schools that aren't working. We have to work with the school communities to reinvent those schools, using proven models and well-trained, experienced teachers and principals. We can't wait for incremental changes to take hold. We have to fix those schools so their students do not lose a lifetime of opportunity. Knowing it can't be accomplished in one year, I want us to commit together to achieving these outcomes:
My goal is to turn those challenges into opportunities. The future of Austin depends upon tapping the brainpower and creativity of Austin students, helping them become productive citizens for this new century. As I lead the Austin School District through the months ahead, I pledge we will be efficient, and we will be effective. We cannot, and will not, be afraid to change what needs to be changed, to better serve the interests of our children and families. I am confident we will do this work in partnership, with a common vision and shared commitment to our students and their future. With the Power of Us, we will succeed.
2008 - 2009 Annual Report