Region 1’s Quest to be a Region of Excellence

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When it comes to education, the eyes of Texas have traditionally looked at the larger and more urban school districts as models of educational excellence and dismissed less affluent school districts in the Rio Grande Valley.

While many students in the Valley fall into the category of economically disadvantaged, it’s hardly an accurate litmus test for academic excellence.

Statistics show that students in the RGV can hold their own in the classroom and on the STAAR test against other school districts in the state.

This isn’t at all surprising to Region 1 Executive Director Dr. Daniel King. That’s because ESC 1 has seen a steady increase in math scores and other subjects for more than five years.

“Region 1 is working hand in hand with our school systems to support them to keep this high achievement trend going,” King said.

The continuous improvement in test scores that began in 2016 dipped in 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that forced school closures nationwide.

That dip was only temporary, and the latest scores released by the Texas Education Agency – the first since 2019 – showed a rebound of 24 percentage points, which includes both “meets” and “masters” levels on the STAAR test.

“This is attributed to the hard work of the close to 30,000 teachers who day in and day out ensure students receive the best quality education in their classrooms, as well as the support systems put in place by dedicated school and district administrators,” King said.

There are 38 school districts and 10 charter schools that serve 422,858 students in the eight counties that fall under the umbrella of ESC1.

According to a Texas Tribune report in September, ESC1 school districts received the highest average accountability ratings, with an average score of 87.9% compared to the statewide average of 86.3%.

“Our goal at Region 1 ESC is Regional Excellence, and this can be achieved by providing equity of service, equity of quality, and equity of optimal impact,” King said.

The TEA released the 2022 Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) in August, indicating that 95% of the schools in ESC1 were rated as high performing and received either an “A” or “B” rating, compared with 87% of the campuses in Texas.

Comparatively, 45% of the campuses in ESC1 received an “A” rating, compared with 33% of the campuses in other Texas Regions.

The districts in ECS1 that received an “A” rating from the TEA were: Brownsville ISD, Edinburg CISD, Hidalgo ISD, Jim Hogg County ISD, Laredo ISD, Los Fresnos CISD, Lyford CISD, McAllen ISD, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Raymondville ISD, Rio Grande City Grulla ISD, Roma ISD, San Perlita ISD, Sharyland ISD, South Texas ISD, Triumph Public High School – Laredo, Triumph Public High School RGV, United ISD, Valley ISD, and Vanguard Academy.

However, other Texas regions had the edge in campuses receiving a “B” rating with 54% of campuses in Texas, versus 50% – 22 districts – in ECS1.

The results from the TEA were shared with administrators during a public meeting in August, which only reinforced the leadership at ESC1 has for students in the RGV.

“We are committed to providing support systems for effective instruction in every classroom in the region through strong leadership and planning practices,” King said. “Together, we will transform the region and reach excellence for all.”

Bryan Kirk