The Sunny Side of the District

The 'I am AISD' report paints a rosy picture of Austin schools

Been wondering what AISD has been doing with its $731 million budget, or what the district has planned for its $500 million in new bond money? Wonder no more: Get yourself a copy of "I Am AISD," the colorful annual report the district released last week. Brimming with facts, figures, and bullet lists detailing the district's accomplishments in test scores, the arts, citizenship, safety, and facilities, "I Am AISD" includes what Superintendent Pat Forgione described as "every type of relevant data in a clear and concise format."

More or less, anyway. Like any annual report, "I Am AISD" plays up the district's strengths while putting a positive spin on its weaknesses. For example, in the "Arts" section, the district touts the bands and theatre groups that have won regional awards and competitions, and leaves out the dismally low participation rates in extracurricular arts at many of its schools. Or, while charts show the test scores of African-American and Hispanic students lagging well below those of their white peers, particularly in science and math, the district more prominently declares that these are the groups who made the most progress in the test-score game last year.

In presenting the report, Forgione took pains to point out that the annual report is not the state-mandated Academic Excellence Indicator System report, which comes out at the end of each year, and includes much of the state data. If "I Am AISD" is perhaps a bit heavy on the sunshine and butterflies, the state reports tend more toward the thunderstorms and funnel clouds – teacher and student demographic and performance data in stark black and white, without giving the district its fair chance to toot its horn about the good it's managing to do in a large, urban district that has a lot more challenges to meet than funds with which to meet them.

The district will distribute the report to schools, chambers of commerce, real estate agents, pediatricians' offices, and other public locations. If, after all that, you still don't manage to trip over a copy, they're available on the AISD Web site: www.austin.isd.tenet.edu.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

I am AISD, Pat Forgione, annual report, Academic Excellence Indicator System

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