Almost 97% of SSISD instructors meet NCLB standard

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram Staff

Nov 25, 2007 - Most Sulphur Springs Independent School District teachers are considered 100 percent “highly qualified” by No Child Left Behind standards, and those who aren’t are working toward it.

Meanshile, SSISD trustees have adopted a “Highly Qualified Teacher Plan”  which administrators believe will get the district closer to the 100 percent state target.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was created to improve the performance of schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools. Part of that legislation requires school districts to ensure 100 percent of their teaching staffs are "highly qualified teachers," according to SSISD Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed

As of Oct. 15, a total of 96.93 percent of regular teachers and 94.44 percent of special education teachers in the district were considered highly qualified.

Of the 228 regular classroom teachers, 221 are highly qualified, according to NCLB data reported by Texas Education Agency. So far this year, 17 of the 18 special education teachers were considered highly qualified.

All Early Childhood Learning Center, Austin, Lamar and Douglas teachers this year  meet the standards, as do special education instructors at Bowie and Sulphur Springs Middle School.

The number of instructors not meeting the highly qualified certification level is extremely low. At Bowie Elementary School,  22 of 24 regular teachers are HQT, as are 24 of 25 regular teachers at Travis Elementary. Only one of the 49 teachers at the middle school did not reach the 100 percent level. At Sulphur Springs High School this year, 94.23 percent of regular teachers are listed as HQT, as are four of five special education teachers.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed noted that some teachers still have to take and pass appropriate tests, but those are in the works.

The numbers are down slightly from one year ago, when 98.23 percent of regular classroom teachers in SSISD were considered highly qualified, as were 95.6 percent of special education teachers. All four elementary schools, ECLC and Douglas Intermediate School also had 100 percent HQT in 2006. At the middle school, 98 percent of regular teachers met the highly qualified goal, as did 94 percent at the high school.

In August, the assistant superintendent and personnel staff analyzed data from all teachers’ certifications, testing, staff development and service records. The assistant superintendent then assigned HQT to all campuses, to better ensure each campus’s HQT level was proportionate, which helps explain why some campuses that in 2006 had 100 percent HQT fell just short of the mark this year.

A two-page highly qualified teacher plan adopted by the district earlier this month should boost the district’s percentage of highly qualified teachers.

�Hopefully we�ll get to the point of 100 percent highly qualified staff,� noted Connie Mabe, SSISD's director of elementary education. "Efforts are ongoing, and improvements continue throughout the year."

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