Making Plans for Reagan and Pearce

AISD bracing for news on fate of Reagan and Pearce

Whether or not the Texas Education Agency lowers the boom on Reagan High and Pearce Middle School, AISD will proceed with academic redesign plans to better prepare young students for college.
Whether or not the Texas Education Agency lowers the boom on Reagan High and Pearce Middle School, AISD will proceed with academic redesign plans to better prepare young students for college. (Photo by John Anderson)

Two campuses in the Austin Independent School District risk closure this year under Texas' accountability rules. So AISD administration is preparing for dramatic changes to both campuses – whether they meet the state's standards or not.

On May 24, as required by Texas Educa­tion Agency rules, the AISD Board of Trus­tees approved contingency plans for Reagan High and Pearce Middle schools. If the TEA shuts the campuses when the accountability ratings are published this summer, the district will submit these plans to the TEA as "repurposing" proposals. Should the schools survive the testing process, the district will move ahead with them as "redesigns." The end result will be the same, but a voluntary redesign would mean the district would not have to remove the principal and the majority of teaching staff. The plan, AISD Board of Trustees President Mark Williams said, is "to get out of the accountability curve. ... Whether we make it or not, this is the path we're following."

Making Plans for Reagan and Pearce
Photo by Jana Birchum

Under the plan, Reagan would become an early college high school in the 2010-11 school year. The campus, now in its fourth year of academically unacceptable status, will get a revised curriculum and a Twilight Program providing after-hours credit makeup classes, while meeting students' social needs through a new family resource center. Pearce, which was repurposed last year but left in administrative limbo when the TEA refused to reset the accountability clock (see "TEA to Pearce: Drop Dead," July 17, 2009), will become a pre-K through eighth-grade college prep academy in 2011. Education Austin President Louis Malfaro said, "Both of them have this common early-start high school [and college] theme. They want to have kids on track to be moving into higher education."

Now the clock is ticking on whether the plans will be implemented voluntarily or under the aegis of a TEA-mandated closure. While test scores won't be finalized until July 30, TEA Communications Director Deb­bie Graves Ratcliffe says the agency will make preliminary scores for multiyear academically unacceptable campuses available before the end of June. Meanwhile, the AISD board will vote on June 7 on the first stage of redesigning Pearce – restricting it to seventh- and eighth-grade students for the 2010-11 school year. Williams said, "Even if they don't make it, they're not going to be recognized schools, knocking it out of the park for all kids. So this is really to provide a more appropriate, enhanced, and robust academic program."

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Austin ISD, Reagan High School, Pearce Middle School

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