Changes on the Horizon for AISD

Changes are in store for the Abilene Independent School District.

District officials said they took a look at the system and determined some things that they are going to do differently.

One of those changes is holding schools and educators accountable for student learning, and making changes in areas that are falling short.

"I think we have failed to recognize and remediate for or remove mediocrity in public education," said AISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Burns.

Officials for AISD are working not only to recognize teachers who reach out the most to their students, but also to weed out the underperforming ones.

"I dont want to see people lose their jobs. I want to see people who have deficiencies get better. And if they don't, I'm quite fine with helping them find another profession," Dr. Burns said.

However, Burns made very clear: if a student is failing repeatedly, the entire system is at fault, not the teacher alone.

"That means our system is failing and the whole system has to adjust. The principal, the teacher, everyone involved," he said.

Dr. Burns went on to say there are several factors that go into evaluating teachers. 

"It's not a bright line standard. Principals' evaluations of teacher efforts to offer good instructional practices and to embrace a solid instructional model is first and foremost," he said.

As for administrators, he feels their greatest responsibility is to provide pathways for teachers and students who aren't achieving success in the classroom.

"The challenge that we have is to provide more toolsets for those that are lacking in certain areas," said Abilene High Principal Terry Bull.

Cooper High School Principal Gail Gregg shared Bull's sentiment.

"We're accountable for our students and our students' learning," Gregg said.

Dr. Burns believes recognizing where the system is falling short is the first step; and as long as educators work to correct shortfalls, AISD will flourish.

"As long as we're growing and getting better, there's going to be a seat on the bus for everyone at Abilene ISD," he said.

This idea is one of many changes on the horizon for AISD. There are also plans to further recognize teachers who go above and beyond for their most needy and disadvantaged children.

In January, nine student teachers from ACU will start at Cooper and Abilene High Schools.

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