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Lancaster ISD Crafts Its New Narrative of Academic Achievement

A Letter From the Office of the Superintendent
Dr. Michael D. McFarland
We are excited that we have created a new narrative of academic achievement in Lancaster ISD. What we've managed to accomplish together is what some would call impossible. But as Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."

And if you've been following our journey, you have had a front row seat to our transformation and progress. Our academic progress and improvement in fiscal management have led to many grant opportunities and external partnerships. During the last three years, we have received more than 60 Academic Distinctions from the Texas Education Agency and we also received a Superior Achievement Rating on our most recent Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) metric. Our hard work led to our Board of Trustees being recently named the 2016 Most Outstanding School Board in Texas by the Texas Association of School Administrators and the National School Board of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

Overall, 2016 has been an exceptional year for us, and I am proud to report that our schools continue to perform at high levels, and the district remains as the BEST of the Southwest Dallas County school districts. The 2016 accountability performance results provide confirmation and clear evidence that our improvements are being sustained over time.

While we are excited about our current progress, we recognize that our success cannot be adequately measured by student performance on a standardized test. School improvement is a complex process and measuring it using a single letter grade is not sufficient. Unfortunately, a new Texas accountability system will be introduced that will attempt to do just that.
Beginning in January 2017, every school and district in Texas will receive a grade of A, B, C, D, or F. The metrics concerning how the grades are assigned and how the overall calculations will be tabulated are still under development, and currently educators have little to no information relative to how the final ratings will be assigned.

The Commissioner of Education has been diligent in his attempt to communicate information about the development of the system and potential implications for schools; however, we are not confident that the system of rating schools using the A-F scale will be valid and reliable. This system will simply sort students based on economics and will have a significantly negative impact on school improvement efforts in public schools throughout the state. This is unfair to all Texas students who will be labeled under this system and leads one to believe that politics is driving this policy.

The progress in Lancaster ISD is undeniable and we are proud of our work. This community recognizes our success and our families believe in our work and I want you to know that we are not placing value into a system that is politically motivated to undermine the true success of the public schools in Texas.
So, I hope that you join me in rejecting an unfair, politically motivated system. Since we are at the beginning of this legislative session, now is the time to help them see that this rating system is bad policy. Please make your voice heard by contacting your representative and sharing your perspective on this issue.

Representative Helen Giddings - Texas State House District 109
Capitol Contact Information: P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768 • (512) 463-0953
Local Contact Information: 1510 North Hampton Road, #340 DeSoto TX 75115 • (972) 224-6795

Senator Royce West - Texas State Senate District 23
Capitol Contact Information: P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station Austin, TX 78711 • (512) 463-0123
Local Contact Information: 5787 S. Hampton Rd., Suite 385 Dallas TX 75232 • (214) 467-0123

Thank you for your unwavering support of Lancaster ISD students, teachers and staff.

Dr. Michael D. McFarland
Superintendent of Schools, Lancaster ISD
422 S. Centre Ave. Lancaster, TX 75146
(972) 218-1400 (972) 218-1401 FAX

Lancaster ISD Vision:

All students will achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy.