Stephens Elementary and Aldine ISD get high ratings, says TEA

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath presents the new A to F evaluation system, while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listens.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath presents the new A to F evaluation system, while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick listens.

ALDINE – Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, visited Aldine ISD’s Stephens Elementary School on Thursday, Aug. 15 as part of their trip across Texas to feature schools that made tremendous gains in the state’s AF accountability rating system during the 2018-19 school year.

Stephens Elementary moved from a ‘D’ to an ‘A’ campus in the state’s A-F accountability ratings in one year.

Joining Commissioner Morath and Lt. Gov. Patrick at the event were Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney, AISD Board President Steve Mead, Board Vice President Connie Esparza, Board Secretary Dr. Kimberley Booker, Board Asst. Secretary Paul Shanklin and Board Members Patricia Ann Bourgeois and Rose Avalos.

Morath applauded the work Stephens principal Shauna Showers and her staff performed turning the school around in just a year’s time, and lauded Aldine for moving to a ‘B’ district.

“Aldine has about 65,000 students (there are 20 districts of this size in Texas, called ‘very large districts’) and of these very large districts Aldine gained the most in student achievement, second most in school progress, and second most overall,” Morath said. “Perhaps even more interesting, 87% of Aldine ISD kids receive free and reduced lunch – meaning Aldine is the highest poverty, very large district in Texas, and yet you’re outpacing them all in terms of improvement.”

Close to 90% of Stephens’ students are classified as economically disadvantaged and half of their students are English language learners.

Lt. Gov. Patrick singled out Showers and her staff for the outstanding gains they made in one year.

“This is an incredible day,” the Lt. Gov. said. “You (speaking to Showers) did it in one of the toughest environments possible. We are here to celebrate individuals schools and school districts that have excelled.”

Dr. Goffney thanked Commissioner Morath and Lt. Gov. Patrick for showcasing Stephens Elementary and Aldine ISD and added the work is just beginning in Aldine.

“In Aldine ISD, our primary focus is ensuring all students have access to high-quality schools and learning experiences that prepare them for their futures,” Dr. Goffney said. “Our main goal is to increase the number of highly-rated schools. I am pleased to state this is happening, and this will continue to be our goal this year and in the coming years.

“Yes, there is still work ahead of us. But as I go into my second year as Superintendent of Schools, I am amazed at the strides we have made in a short period of time,” she said. “This progress did not happen by accident. It takes a village. From educators to bus drivers, to school nurses and cafeteria workers, from custodial workers to maintenance crews and many more…Everyone…We were All in.”

Dr. Goffney also had words of praise for Showers and her staff.

“She (Showers) worked hard to develop a new campus culture and learn the needs of her students and teachers,” Dr. Goffney said. “It was a tough first year for her. Shauna found herself leading many new educators at a campus that was poorly performing. As you can imagine that made for hard days. Employee morale was down, and parents were disengaged. Immediately, she and her administrative team made changes and refocused. The former basketball coach decided to regroup, reassess, and reorganize in a colossal way. She needed everyone to bring their ‘A’ game. The hard work paid off. Stephens Elementary moved from what would have been considered a ‘D’ in 2018 to an ‘A’ school in 2019.”

Showers thanked her staff, many of whom attended the event, for their hard work and dedication to their students.

“Our staff put in countless hours to ensure our students had a welcoming and interactive learning environment,” Showers said. “Each one of our students is unique, and their smiling faces keep us on our toes finding new ways to help them learn. There are so many things that I could be proud of. I could go on all day, but one of my proudest moments is the growth of our students over the last few years. In just a few days, these halls will be filled with students, teachers, and staff. We will celebrate our success and welcome new students to our way of learning!”

A number of elected officials also attended the event, including State Senators Carol Alvarado, and Paul Bettencourt, State Reps Alma Allen, Armando Walle, and Dan Huberty, as well as State Board of Education Chair Donna Bahorich, and Board Members Lawrence Allen and Kevin Ellis.

Stephens fifth-grader Danielle Ramirez introduced Dr. Goffney. Danielle has had perfect scores for the last two years on the math STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) test.