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FWISD and Texas Wesleyan announce first-of-its-kind, innovative PK-8 partnership

02.13.2019 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
Photo of Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner with students from the Forest Oak Leadership Academy.

Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan University today announced an innovative five-year partnership to sustain the rising academic achievements of the District’s five Leadership Academies. The agreement establishes the Leadership Academy Network, a first-of-its-kind initiative that leverages the resources of the Texas Wesleyan School of Education and the Fort Worth ISD Office of Innovation and Transformation.

Network schools include the Leadership Academies at Como Elementary, John T. White Elementary, Maude I. Logan Elementary, Mitchell Boulevard Elementary and Forest Oak Middle School—once-struggling campuses that became part of an education model piloted by the District in 2017. The new partnership with Texas Wesleyan, approved by the Fort Worth ISD board on Feb. 12, is the next phase of that effort, designed to maintain and build upon Leadership Academy successes and move the schools from promising initial results to sustained levels of high student achievement.

“We firmly believe that all students can succeed and thrive, given the right learning environment,” said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. “Between the demonstrated successes of the Leadership Academy model and the institutional resources Texas Wesleyan will bring to these campuses, we expect strong results going forward as we prepare these students for college, career and community leadership.”

The Leadership Academy model features high-achieving teachers and principals, specifically chosen for their track record of significant growth with similar students and their willingness to engage in rigorous work. Leadership Academy employees will remain at their respective campuses as long as they are in good standing with the District. The Leadership Academies will also continue their commitments to instructional excellence, extended-day learning, social-emotional support for students and enhanced parent and community partnerships—tactics that have proven effective. In the first year of operations, all Leadership Academies came off the Texas Education Agency’s “Improvement Required” list and demonstrated levels of student growth that placed them among the top half of campuses across the state.

Texas Wesleyan will operate and manage the schools under a performance contract, and the Texas Wesleyan board will serve as the governing board for the Leadership Academy Network. Texas Wesleyan will create a leadership team to manage the Network and will form a Steering Committee made up of veteran educators and administrators to help guide that work. The University’s School of Education will provide data-driven academic oversight and intensive professional development, based on faculty expertise in instruction, curriculum and administration. The campuses will remain Fort Worth ISD schools staffed by Fort Worth ISD employees, and students are still Fort Worth ISD students.

The partnership developed as a result of Texas Senate Bill 1882, or the Texas Partnership Opportunity, which went into effect in 2017 and provides financial incentives for school districts to expand the diversity of school options, bring in targeted expertise and empower school leaders and partners with greater autonomy. Leveraging this opportunity, Fort Worth ISD engaged in a thoughtful, year-long planning process, and worked with community stakeholders to identify an outstanding partner for a district-charter hybrid. Fort Worth ISD selected Texas Wesleyan to sustain the Leadership Academy model and align efforts with the District’s broader strategic plan.

Texas Wesleyan is Fort Worth’s oldest institution of higher learning, with a strong governance structure and a long history of working with Fort Worth ISD to bring innovative opportunities to area schools. The partnership exemplifies Texas Wesleyan’s strong commitment to serving the community and supporting the economic revitalization of East Fort Worth, where the University is located. Many of the District’s Leadership Academy schools are near the Texas Wesleyan campus.

Leadership Academy teacher education opportunities will strengthen Texas Wesleyan’s well-established pipeline of graduates entering employment with Fort Worth ISD. Texas Wesleyan intends to utilize its students as a source of volunteers, mentors and role models for Leadership Academy students.

“The Leadership Academy model reflects the mission of our School of Education to meet the challenges of instruction and learning in the 21st century,” said Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick G. Slabach. “We believe that together, we can sustain the academic gains experienced at these five campuses while solidifying a model with potential for much broader impact across the nation.”

The Leadership Academy Network impacts about 3,000 students. The transition in leadership will take effect before the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Pictured above: Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner with students from the Forest Oak Leadership Academy.

About the Leadership Academy Network

Established in February 2019, the Leadership Academy Network is a first-of-its-kind partnership between Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan University, designed to sustain rising academic performance of the District’s five Leadership Academies. Piloted by the District in 2017, the Leadership Academy model is based on instructional excellence, extended learning, social-emotional support, highly qualified principals and teachers and parent and community partnerships. First-year results showed improvement at all schools. Texas Wesleyan was selected by Fort Worth ISD to sustain and support this model by managing the schools in accordance with a performance contract mutually negotiated by the partners. Dedicated to education and the community, Texas Wesleyan is a long-time partner to Fort Worth ISD. The University’s School of Education offers innovative and exceptional experience in classroom instruction, curriculum and administration. The partnership is made possible by 2017 Texas Senate Bill 1882, which enables districts to expand the diversity of school options, bring in targeted expertise and empower school leaders and partners with greater autonomy. Network schools are the Leadership Academies at Como Elementary, John T. White Elementary, Maude I. Logan Elementary, Mitchell Boulevard Elementary and Forest Oak Middle School.

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