“We’re a school district on the rise,” Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Paredes Scribner told a gathering of 300 Fort Worth Chamber members at Cendera Center last week during the Chamber’s 15th Annual State of Public Education luncheon. “We can’t do it without you (local businesses) … You belong here.”

View the “You Belong Here” video here.

The FWISD was one of two most-improved urban school districts in Texas last school year “and we still have a long way to go,” Scribner said. Nonetheless, the luncheon was mostly celebrating successes – online registrations, re-developing learning centers, improved test results, more college scholarship money offered, better reading results for pre-K through third-grade students — and looking forward.

Scribner was part of a panel discussion with Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Read Fort Worth Executive Director Anel Mercado. It was moderated by the Chamber’s Dr. Anthony Edwards, senior vice president of Talent Development, Acquisition and Retention.

Scribner said the “quality of education and economic development of the community are inextricably linked. We want to be successful ‘cradle through career,’ not just third graders reading at level.” Scribner noted that 10,000 ISD students are in career and technical programs, thousands more are earning dual high school and college credits in programs with The University of Texas, Texas Wesleyan and Tarrant County College.

Morath complimented the Fort Worth ISD for its “major progress.” He drew specific attention to the district’s relentless focus on quality teachers; the adoption of outcomes-based education beyond traditional books, desks and classrooms; and the ability to achieve great schools no matter how they are structured.

The convening legislative session was a focal point of the panel. Morath said the state’s school finance committee has spent six months in discussions and he expects substantive changes to how dollars are distributed between the state and the ISDs.

Mayor Price, who spent 17 years as the Tarrant County tax assessor, said it has to change. “It once was 60 percent financed by the state and 40 percent by local. Now it’s 60 local and 40 state.”

Scribner said he was in favor of merit-based rewards, which has been discussed at the state level. “I agree on putting money with programs that show success,” he said. “We ID’d top teachers to go to our most challenged schools and earn a $10,000 stipend.” That money is “earned” with longer school days, extra class time and dinner with the students.

Price said the “Mayor’s office has the strongest bully pulpit” to improve education. “Every child deserves a quality education and the city and businesses have to be a part of that. The whole community needs to stand up and see education as our No. 1 priority.

“Start when they are young and grow our own. Keep the talent here. It will succeed because Fort Worth always succeeds.

The Chamber concluded the luncheon with a donation to Read Fort Worth. Linebarger was the Presenting Sponsor and EECU the Reception Sponsor.

You Belong Here

Our academic gains…

  •  The Texas Education Agency named FWISD one of two top districts in Texas in year-to-year positive growth in academic achievement.
  • We cut our number of Improvement Required campuses in half – from 24 to 11 – over the last four years.

…across-the-board, including:

1. Significant increases in the percentage of elementary students passing reading, math, and science

  • An 8-point gain in the percentage of students passing third grade reading
  • Across-grade-level increases in the percentage of students reading on grade level
  • Increases in middle school math scores, especially at 6th and 7th grade.
  • 6th and 8th grade increases in the percentage of students performing at grade level in math

The Turn-Around at Our Leadership Academies

  • Accountability gains were in the double digits at the five schools reconstituted as Leadership Academies: Mitchell Boulevard Elementary School, John T. White Elementary School, Como Elementary School, Logan Elementary School, and Forest Oak Middle School.

Our college-going culture

  • The Class of 2018 earned a record-setting $102.6 million in merit scholarships and grant offers, up from $36 million in 2015.
  • Our “all-in for literacy” community partners
  • Read Fort Worth is growing partnerships across the city in support of FWISD’s 100 x 25 FWTX, an early literacy initiative that sets a goal of 100% of third-graders reading on grade level by the year 2025.
  • Innovative programs such as Reading with Barbers engage adults to make literacy our community’s top priority.
  • Organizations such as Read 2 Win, Kids Hope USA, and Reading Partners match volunteers to students to help them become strong readers.

The great start we give our littlest learners

  • 4,160 students attend FWISD Pre-Kindergarten.
  • The District’s Universal Pre-K actively recruits to provide opportunities for even more of our youngest students.

Registration online instead of in line

  • In 2018, FWISD parents registered their children for school online at home, on smart phones and tablets, and on computers at school or at the Fort Worth Public Library.
  • More than 97% of parents completed the process online.

Our new school for big thinkers and bold artists

  • It’s the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA, where students with a passion for engineering and computer science design and build in a state-of-the-art makerspace.
  • On the visual and performing arts side, students hone their talents and prepare for scholarship auditions in studios, a piano lab, and a world-class performance hall.
  • The Cowan Humanities Academy provides an enriched, dynamic college-prep level humanities study.

Our unwavering commitment to equity

  •  The Fort Worth ISD Board of Education received the 2018 CUBE (Council of Urban Boards of Education) Annual Award for Urban School Excellence.
  • FWISD passed an equity policy and instituted strategies to ensure that students receive equitable opportunities for academic success.

Our transformative $750 million bond

  • Providing modern learning environments at every high school
  • Upgrading high school athletics, fine arts and libraries
  • Updating infrastructure at our historic campuses

Our pathways to success in a multicultural world

1. 85% of our elementary campuses support either two-way dual language or one-way dual language programming.

1. Dual language programming will extend into select middle schools beginning in the 2019-20 school year