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August 6, 2013

Raising the bar in GISD education

GREENVILLE — Greenville Independent School District Superintendent Don Jefferies said the district is reaping the reward from the changes it made to the curriculum in the past few years.

In the most recent Texas Education Agency (TEA) accountability system results, GISD met or exceeded the standards at every campus and the district as a whole.

Jefferies said the results validate the work the curriculum department, teachers and students have performed.

“Our kids and our teachers are doing a very good job. That feels good,” he said. “[The results] tell parents things that we already knew.”

A large part to the success of the students comes from a dedicated curriculum department, Jefferies said.

“We have curriculum staff who actually work with teachers in the classroom to coach and train teachers how to implement the curriculum in the class environment,” he said.

With the district’s literacy and ACE grants the district received, Jefferies said every student in the district has the tools to succeed in and out of the classroom.

One of the biggest improvements to the system, Jefferies said, is how teachers are able to monitor each of their student’s individual performance.

“We are making much better use of student performance data,” he said. “A teacher can check what kids are mastering and falling short at and make individual adjustments. You’re going to see more individualization in education.”

Another adjustment the curriculum department made was the implementation of a product-oriented education system.

This type of teaching system encourages students to implement real-world scenarios to what they are learning.

“They take the information and do something with it,” he said. “Instead of just learning about bridges, students actually build miniature bridges to test the stress limits on them.”

Jefferies stated that the district’s robotics and solar car programs are prime examples of getting students excited about the skills they are learning at GISD.

“The expansions of those programs add to the value of what we do,” he said, adding the district also has a plethora of college readiness and career and tech classes for students. “We have one of the best robotics programs in the world.”

With the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test replacing the TAKS test, Texas has raised the accountability standards for teachers and students.

Jefferies said he’s glad to see the faculty and students step up to the challenge.

“We have got teachers and students who are excited about the results,” he said. “It’s nice that the state says ‘Oh, by the way, you’re doing really good.’”

Jefferies said he wants to continue watching his students graduate and move on to become productive members of society.

“We have got a lot of really good kids here,” he said. “I want them to be validated. I want the parents and community to have confidence that the district is doing well in teaching.”

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