PISD eyes needs assessment for two campuses

PISD_12-16-NeedsAssessmentPresentationParis Independent School District could soon have a consultant conducting a needs assessment at the intermediate and junior high schools.

A needs assessment is not a curriculum audit, Debra Payne, a consultant with the Flippen Group’s Learning Keys, told the PISD board of trustees Monday. An audit looks into things like finances and personnel as well as curriculum. The needs assessment reviews state assessment results, campus walkthroughs, feedback from teachers, principals, and central office administrators along with other pertinent district and campus statistics.

“The idea is to identify trends and patterns,” Payne said. “If we say we’re doing something, and we see it happening in the classroom, and it’s reflected in test scores, that’s great. If it’s not reflected in our test scores, we need to look at why. It’s all about being growth-minded.”

That mindset is why Texarkana ISD has worked with Learning Keys for about three years, she said. When Trustee Dr. Gordon Strom asked for a “success story,” she pointed to Corrigan-Camden ISD, which is about 25 miles south of Lufkin. The district was low performing, but managed to turn itself around with the Learning Keys’ help, she said. Within three years, CCISD had an improving district, including a blue-ribbon high school.

The study itself takes about two days, Payne said. That includes gathering information, two visits to each classroom and conducting teacher interviews. The interviews are online and anonymous “so they can feel comfortable saying what they want.” The walkthroughs also remain anonymous, she said.

“Most of the time we’re here, we’re collecting data. Then we take it back, and you get a hefty report,” she said.

Trustee Jenny Wilson asked what happens after the study is conducted and whether schools tended to implement the recommendations and if Learning Keys would help put those recommendations into action.

Most districts do follow the findings, Payne replied. The Flippen Group usually does help with implementation, unless there are recommendations that lie outside its capabilities. A curriculum audit makes many recommendations, but is not set up to help implement them, she said.

Strom said he would like to see what Texarkana and Corrigan-Camden had to say about the process.

“It would be encouraging to see if Texarkana says it’s been very helpful and the teachers enjoyed the process,” he said.

Superintendent Paul Jones suggested at last month’s meeting that the study focus on Crockett Intermediate School and Paris Junior High School. On Monday, he said those two were selected “at random.” A districtwide study would cost in the neighborhood of $24,000.

“If you’re not improving, not moving forward, you’re going backward in this business,” he said. “We want to go from good to great.”

Jones recommended the Flippen Group. He said he has used the company before for a program called Capturing Kids’ Hearts, but not a needs assessment.

“We’re still looking at different options,” he said. “We’ll have to amend the budget if that’s the way we want to go.”

PISD_12-16-UIL_AwardsThe board also recognized Paris Junior High School winners of a UIL middle school/junior high meet in November. Winners included:

  • Alexis Anderson, sixth place in eighth-grade editorial writing
  • Graham Bain, fourth place in eighth-grade science
  • Erin Bankston, second place in eighth-grade editorial writing and third place in ready writing
  • Megan Bankston, sixth place in eighth-grade calculator applications
  • Reagan Benson, third place in eighth-grade impromptu speaking
  • Evelyn Brown, first place in seventh-grade art memory
  • Erica Cole, fifth place in eighth-grade math
  • Zachary De La Garza, second place in eighth-grade spelling and vocabulary and second place in dictionary skills
  • Ansley Downs, fourth place in seventh-grade social studies
  • Keyshauwn Ellis, fourth place in eighth-grade maps, graphs and charts
  • Kellen Floyd, third place in seventh-grade listening skills
  • Akeirria Garvin, second place in seventh-grade modern oratory
  • Maria Gonzalez, fifth place in eighth-grade art memory
  • Lucas Grossnickle, first place in eighth-grade impromptu speaking
  • Nichole Hawkes, first place in seventh-grade editorial writing, second place in ready writing and fifth place in oral reading
  • Mahogani Hill, fourth place in seventh-grade editorial writing
  • Chrystlynn Killingsworth, fifth place in seventh-grade dictionary skills
  • Nick Leija, fourth place in seventh-place calculator applications
  • Lilly Lewis, fourth place in eighth-grade oral reading
  • Hannah Marshall, first place in eighth-grade art memory
  • Brittany McPeters, sixth place in seventh-grade listening skills
  • Sahil Prakash, second place in seventh-grade number sense and fifth place in maps, graphs and charts
  • Ka’Dazaha Price, third place in seventh-grade spelling and vocabulary
  • Thaddeus Spence, fourth place in eighth-grade calculator applications
  • Reagan Stone, second place in eighth-grade oral reading and sixth place in modern oratory
  • Rhea Tabora, third place in seventh-grade art memory
  • Alyssa Tacuyan, first place in seventh-grade spelling and vocabulary
  • I’layah Willis, first place in eighth-grade maps, graphs and charts
  • Matthew Wintz, first place in eighth-grade social studies; third place in maps, graphs and charts; and third place in spelling and vocabulary

In other business, the board:

  • Approved student travel for a senior band trip to Memphis, Tenn., May 2-4. Band boosters will pay for the trip, and students will pay for their own expenses.
  • Heard a report from Jones praising how staff handled the recent ice storm. Paris will have to use its two scheduled weather days, but PISD can apply for a waiver from the state if more days are lost to inclement weather, said Mark Hudson, deputy superintendent of curriculum and student services.
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Jeff Parish Jeff Parish is a high school English teacher and journalist. He has worked for the Greenville Herald-Banner, Dallas Morning News, The Paris News and Galveston County Daily News, among others. For comments, feedback or suggestions, you can email him at jeff@eparistexas.com.