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Fort Worth ISD partnership with TXWES pays dividends

08.15.2022 | By:

Recently released ratings from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) show significant improvement in academic performance at five schools in the Leadership Academy Network (LAN) — an innovative partnership between Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan University. Launched in 2019, the LAN was designed to accelerate learning and support continued growth in student achievement by building on the district's initial success at previously struggling campuses. At the start of the 2020 school year, the LAN added a sixth campus, Forest Oak 6 middle school, formerly Glencrest 6.

The LAN was made possible with the passage of Texas Senate Bill 1882, which provides financial incentives for school districts to partner with qualified nonprofits to manage public schools. Due to the pandemic, the just-released rankings — representing STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) test results for the 2021-22 school year — are the first official measure of LAN growth.

"We are very proud of our scholars' accomplishments, especially given all the challenges of COVID-19," said David Saenz, Ed.D., chief innovation officer at Fort Worth ISD. "Thanks to this unique model of education and the commitment of our exceptional teachers and leadership, LAN is making impressive gains for our young scholars to succeed in college, career and community leadership."

Each LAN campus demonstrated progress in 2021-22. The rating increase is especially notable at the Leadership Academy at John T. White, which improved from an F to a B.

2021-22 TEA Ratings vs. 2018-19 Ratings


Last Official TEA Rating

TEA Rating

Leadership Academy at Como Elementary  B B
Leadership Academy at Logan Elementary C B
Leadership Academy at John T. White Elementary F B
Leadership Academy at Mitchell Boulevard Elementary C A
Leadership Academy at Forest Oak Middle 7/8 C B
Leadership Academy at Forest Oak Middle 6 F not rated*

*Any school not earning at least a C is considered "not rated" for the 2021-22 year, allowing for lingering impacts of the pandemic. TEA will revisit those campuses' ratings in 2022-23.

Student Growth Across the Board

The recent TEA ratings reflect growth for all major LAN student groups. For example, at the Leadership Academy at Michell Boulevard, 96% of African American students met or exceeded their STAAR Progress Measure in reading, and 92% of students did so in math.

Hispanic LAN students also showed greater gains in the percentage on grade level compared with peers across Texas. Statewide, there was an 8-percentage-point increase in Hispanic students on grade level in math. At LAN, the increase was 17 percentage points. For reading, there was a 9-percentage-point increase in the state's Hispanic students on grade level; LAN had an increase of 12 percentage points. "The academic achievements of our Hispanic students in particular is a direct reflection of the tremendous resources and support provided by Texas Wesleyan and its School of Education," explained Priscilla Dilley, LAN senior officer.

In 2020, the LAN leadership team engaged in a comprehensive effort to ensure an equitable system that meets all students' learning needs, and Texas Wesleyan professors shared their expertise to remediate a performance gap for English language learners. The result was a new set of culturally responsive teaching protocols and practices — emphasizing the strengths and assets these students bring to the classroom.

Meeting & Exceeding Performance Goals

Altogether, LAN ratings meet or surpass the 2021-22 objectives for improvement outlined in the contract governing the partnership between Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan.

2021-22 TEA Ratings vs. Partnership Performance Targets


TEA Rating

FWISD/TXWES Performance Goals

Leadership Academy at Como Elementary  B B
Leadership Academy at Logan Elementary B B
Leadership Academy at John T. White Elementary B B
Leadership Academy at Mitchell Boulevard Elementary A B
Leadership Academy at Forest Oak Middle 7th/8th Grade Campus B B
Leadership Academy at Forest Oak Middle 6th Grade Campus not rated C

"We never could have imagined the pandemic and its far-reaching impacts, but we remain on track to our long-term goals," Dilley added. "Our educators went to extraordinary lengths to keep students up to speed during remote learning — designing easy-to-navigate online lessons, providing packets for scholars who struggled with virtual learning and staggering lessons to accommodate families with limited internet connectivity. When students returned, the LAN redoubled its efforts to address any learning loss. These ratings reflect that dedication and the success of the LAN approach to education."

The LAN jointly leverages the strengths and resources of Fort Worth ISD's Office of Innovation and Texas Wesleyan's School of Education. Hallmarks of the model include:

  • Extended learning. Campuses have an additional hour of core instruction each day; they also host Saturday School and summer programs.
  • Highly qualified teachers and principals. Schools are staffed by master-level educators.
  • Data-driven practices. LAN leaders continually evaluate classroom results. Data is used to customize teaching and learning; for example, LAN uses that information to pair teachers who have had the highest gains with students who need additional assistance.
  • Increased autonomy. LAN educators have the flexibility to adjust curriculum and classroom structures to meet scholars' needs.
  • Intensive professional development. Teachers go through expanded professional development and work with instructional coaches who guide practices in math and reading.
  • Extended planning and collaboration. Every Friday, teachers spend a half day working with their team and coaches to plan lessons as part of the Everybody Grows initiative.
  • Family engagement. Families are invited to attend regular Everybody Grows showcases, which highlight what students have learned in enrichment activities. In addition, teachers go to students' homes to meet with parents to discuss learning objectives and build trust; LAN also employs licensed intervention specialists to address the social-emotional needs of our students and their families.

"The TEA ratings make clear the LAN model and partnerships are extremely effective," said Frederick G. Slabach, president of Texas Wesleyan University. "Experts with Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan operate hand-in-hand, with one goal: to move our scholars ahead. We're seeing that happen every day."

Overall, the Fort Worth ISD is now a B-rated District, according to TEA accountability scores.

"Thanks to the incredible work of our teachers, we have gained 14 points in five years — despite two years of a global pandemic," said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. "I am confident that Fort Worth ISD's best days lie ahead and I look forward to supporting the next superintendent as we continue the path toward being an A-rated school. Once again, this outcome is the result of the commitment of all Fort Worth ISD educators."

About the Leadership Academy Network (LAN)

Fort Worth ISD designed its Leadership Academies to feature highly effective educators, a heightened focus on daily academic mastery and an extended school day, among other benefits. The Leadership Academy Network, established in 2019, maintains Fort Worth ISD's Leadership Academy model while leveraging the institutional resources of the Texas Wesleyan School of Education. LAN campuses are managed by Texas Wesleyan University with customized, campus-level initiatives to help students excel and thrive. Educators and administrators at each campus remain Fort Worth ISD employees. Network schools are the Leadership Academies at Como Elementary, John T. White Elementary, Maude I. Logan Elementary, Mitchell Boulevard Elementary and Forest Oak Middle schools.