San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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Candidates for San Marcos CISD school board are taking questions at a League of Women Voters debate.

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11 thoughts on “Live Feed: San Marcos CISD school board debate

  1. I like what I’m hearing from Mr. Arredondo – I hope he will elaborate on the specifics of what he’d like to implement in the classroom. I also appreciate his willingness to be blunt about the problems that economic challenges present to many families – and that SMCISD should be looking to other similar districts for solutions to these problems.

    As for the technology – I still fail to understand how the 1 on 1 initiative will get kids and their parents more involved in school. Will there be any other presentations on this for the public?

    Thanks for posting this link!

  2. The truth (according to TEA) is that SMCISD is an AVERAGE to BELOW AVERAGE school district with:

    2 out of 3 students are Low Income;
    1 out of 2 students are “At Risk” of dropping out;
    3 out of 4 students are Hispanic.

    Our district’s tax rate is higher than the state average.

    Student SAT/ACT scores are significantly lower than the region (Region 13) and very few of our graduates have competitive SAT/ACT scores.

    Arredondo has the courage to tell the truth. I hope he wins a seat at the table.

  3. Mike O, your listed stats do not show the district is “average to below average.” I certainly don’t see what 75% of the district being Hispanic has to do with your premise. Our SAT/ACT participation rate was higher than many other district with higher averages, which only makes sense. If marginal qualifiers are encouraged to take the test to give themselves a chance, the overall average will drop with those lower scores.

    As for Arredondo, I don’t know about courage, as in facing down a fear. He seems to relish (a little too much) taking shots at Judy Allen long tenure (she has been on the Board since he was in 4th grade) and his five minutes (I have the cell numbers of three council members?). He is interesting to have in the race, but nothing has shown me he has the judgment or temperament to overcome his lack of life experience.

  4. Cori, Ted, MikeO, and skeptical,

    I appreciate your comments and interest in the upcoming school board elections. I have a number of ideas of things the SMCISD can start doing tomorrow to impact student achievement and address the effects economics have on public eduction in San Marcos.

    My email address is jma4smcisd@gmail.com. Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

  5. Juan,

    Why don’t you share some of those specifics here so they can be subject to public scrutiny and discussion? I’m interested in hearing your ideas.

  6. Skeptical – thanks for your comments and thanks to the Mercury for providing this forum to discuss the issues. You raise some good points and I will clarify.

    The Texas Education Agency (TEA) publishes the Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) reports online for each year all the way back to 1993. The SMCISD report for 2010-11 is 21 pages long and thus not suitable for posting every detail here. However, the complete reports are available at:

    http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/

    I invite anyone and everyone to post the qualitative indicators in which SMCISD exceeds (is better than) either the regional (Region 13) or state averages – perhaps I missed it … The page number would be helpful too. Thanks!

    3 out 4 students are Hispanic – this is simply a fact and not intended to be a “cause and effect.” In fact, when I wrote that yesterday I worried that readers might misunderstand my intention. TEA and the AEIS goes to great length to aggregate measurements by ethnicity. Unfortunately, some will use this information as a way to “blame” a student population for our deficiencies. Again that is not my intention.

    You are correct about SAT/ACT participation. For the graduating class of 2010 about 84% were tested in SMCISD while the regional and state averages are 66% and 63% respectively. So, of the 417 non-special-ed graduates about 350 took SAT/ACT – this is a VERY GOOD THING – let’s keep doing this in SMCISD – in fact, let’s start this testing in earlier grades so students will know and have time to do what is needed to be truly “college ready.”

    Qualitatively, I believe SAT/ACT performance is a better indicator of “college readiness” than the TEA indicator “College-Ready Graduates” as the TEA indicator includes TAKS results in lieu of SAT/ACT. I know of no college on the planet that accepts TAKS scores for admission. Of course, many debate the correlation between SAT/ACT and college success but that discussion will have to wait for another day…

    For many years TEA has measured “SAT/ACT At/Above Criterion” with the criterion defined as an 1110 on SAT or 24 on ACT (no writing). While these scores will not get the student admitted to highly selective schools they might be good enough to get into many state and private schools. For the class of 2010 only about 92 students or 22% made these scores. However, for the class of 2009 only about 60 students or 14% made these scores. A review of the past 10 years will show disparities between years.

    My point in all this is simply that the SMCISD should be more forthcoming with the facts of the district so that we, as a community, can know the truth, embrace the reality and focus on the deficiencies.

  7. MikeO, thanks. The district is improving, and it is a refreshing change, to hear fewer and fewer people describing it as a “perception problem.”

    You are correct, that some will point to our poor Hispanic population as the cause of any performance problems, but there are numerous comparable districts which disprove the theory that poor Hispanic students “just aren’t going to do well in school.” It’s kind of sad that we even need to have that conversation, but it is what it is.

    You are also correct that there is still work to be done, and the more people acknowledge it, the sooner that work is likely to be done.

  8. Readers of the San Marcos Mercury,

    Once again I would like to say that I appreciate your comments and it’s extremely important that this community become involved in what is going on in the San Marcos CISD. Public education in San Marcos is everyone’s business.

    First I would like to say, if elected, I will only be one of seven school board trustees. If I am elected I will encourage and ask that my colleagues work together with community members, school district employees, and elected officials to IDENTIFY areas of potential improvement (graduation rates, AP test scores, college readiness rates, SAT/ACT scores, attendance, student behavior, teacher turn-over, etc. etc.) Once we identify what we want to improve or what we believe are our challenges, we COMMUNICATE these challenges with the community at-large.

    We have to build consensus across the community. Everyone must know and hopefully acknowledge that although we’ve made gains in specific areas, we need to do more and we need to start doing it now. The way we solve these issues depends on what issues this community decides need to be fixed. I will tell you right now that I cannot promise that I have a “silver bullet” that can solve the issues here in the San Marcos CISD. But what I can promise you is that I will work tirelessly to remind this community and school board that we can do better, we should do better, and that we have to do better.

    I have a lot of specific ideas (looking to successful school districts for possible solutions, ending final exam exemptions at San Marcos High School, reinstating random drug testing for students in extracurricular activities, identifying students who need help before they are at-risk of dropping out of high school, working with the United Way of Hays County, etc. etc.) but I want to first be a good listener and I believe lots of folks here in San Marcos have something constructive to say but the school district has not been very interested in listening.

    Thanks for your consideration when you cast your vote – early voting starts Monday April 30 at the Hays County Government Center and Election Day is Saturday, May 12.

    Once again, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email at jma4smcisd@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

  9. Great. I definitely like the idea of looking to other school districts, to see what has worked.

    Texas State has a PhD program in school improvement. I’d be very interested to see what kind of collaboration might be possible with them.

  10. Question for Mr. Arredondo: Do you support moving the SMCISD elections to November? This is a very important issue to many.

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