By Dr. José Espinoza
Superintendent of Schools
Vulnerable children continue to be left behind academically.
Adequate progress isn’t being made to ensure the success of vulnerable children according to State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam scores, which indicate academic gaps persist among minority, economically disadvantaged students and their counterparts. In May 2012, Socorro ISD was no different, lagging behind the state in nine out of 17 STAAR exams administered to students in grades third through eighth. Unwilling to accept these statistics when I came to SISD in September 2012, I was determined to work hard and change this ever-present gap by inspiring Team SISD to “educate and treat our students as if they are our own children” and implementing new initiatives such as an intensive data-driven performance review, Operation College Bound, free breakfast for all students, and new technology-based learning platforms.
Two short years later in May 2014, SISD surpassed the state average in all 17 exams for the first time in 20 years – as far back as records could be tracked. Out of the 50 largest school districts in Texas, SISD was the only district with an over 90% minority and over 70% economically disadvantaged student population to achieve this feat. In May 2015 and 2016, SISD outpaced the state again in all 17 STAAR exams and by an even larger margin each year than the previous years.
While recognizing this success, I knew much work remained to be done since many students were still performing below grade level. I used my firsthand experience as a vulnerable child to design the WIN Academy. I researched best practices for improving student academic outcomes and found that Jaime Escalante’s legendary teaching approach featured in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver mirrored my own educational philosophy of high expectations for all students, regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and vision of excellence. The foundation of our WIN Academy is based on Escalante’s investment in his students and ‘ganas’ to overcome obstacles and succeed.
The WIN Academy provides SISD stakeholders with the most effective education system to help vulnerable children overcome the following obstacles and reach their full potential now and in the future:
As superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District, I am committed to educating and treating our students as if they are our very own children by providing the support and resources ALL of them, including our most vulnerable students, need to thrive emotionally and academically.
The WIN Academy started at 10 schools in SISD during the 2015-2016 school year and was expanded this school year to six more schools. Team SISD already has seen success in WIN Academy student performance, attendance, and confidence.
Our WIN Academy was recently awarded an $800,000 grant by the prestigious W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We are grateful and honored to receive this valuable contribution that will further support our relentless efforts to ensure every student in Team SISD succeeds.
The reality is the one-size-fits-all traditional public education system does not meet the needs of all our students. As we implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, our WIN Academy has the potential to significantly impact education reform not just in SISD, but also nationwide.
With the support of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and our entire community, I strongly believe we will close the achievement gap with a proven, successful WINning approach!
Read more about the Socorro ISD WIN Academy.
The reality is the one-size-fits-all traditional public education system does not meet the needs of all our students.
– Dr. José Espinoza, Socorro ISD Superintendent of Schools