Tuesday, October 27, 2020

School Board Approves District of Innovation Plan

The District of Innovation (DOI) plan was officially approved on second reading by the Carroll ISD School Board on Monday, December 4. Following Board approval, the Commissioner was notified that CISD met all the requirements to become a DOI. School officials said the commissioner’s approval is not needed to make DOI official.

The DOI process began when the Carroll ISD Board of Trustees passed a resolution May 1, initiating the process of exploring and considering DOI designation for CISD. Over the summer months, District administrators began to assemble a committee composed of teachers, parents, local business and community members, and CISD Trustees. This committee gathered to help process the focus areas of the committee and help form the Local Innovation Plan.

One of the main components of becoming a DOI is the district’s ability to have more flexibility with the school calendar for the upcoming year. . In consultation with staff and community stakeholders, A CISD Calendar Committee will develop its annual calendar recommendation for approval by the Board of Trustees. Through the exemption, the first day of instruction can begin prior to the fourth Monday in August. Preference will be given to starting instruction around the third week in August with assurances to the community the school year will not begin prior to the second week in August.

Current law restricts CISD from having the flexibility to design its calendar to best meet the needs of its students, staff and community. Because the community expects the fall semester to end with final exams before the winter break, the restricted start date creates a significant imbalance in the number of instructional days in each semester. By starting earlier, not only will there be greater balance, which is particularly important in semester long courses, but it will also allow more instructional days prior to state testing dates.

The DOI exemption could result in an earlier end date, closer to the Memorial Day holiday, which is also an expressed preference of the community. Finishing school closer to the Memorial Day holiday will better allow students to enroll in summer school classes within CISD as well as institutions of higher learning.

A calendar sub-committee of the District Advisory Committee met on December 6, and will meet again on December 12, to develop draft calendar options to be presented to the Board at the December 18 meeting. Following Trustee discussion, CISD will seek input from the Carroll community, parents, students, and staff, through the two-way communication tool, Let’s Talk.

Janet McDade, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, said other DOI areas of interest for Carroll ISD are flexibility when it comes to teacher certification and teacher appraisal processes.

“I am very excited that we have completed the Local Plan for District of Innovation in Carroll ISD,” said McDade. “Having this Local Plan in place will allow for more local control and flexibility which will benefit our students, staff, and parents. The goal while writing our Local Plan was to ensure it was aligned with the District’s Strategic Plan, and I am happy to say we accomplished our goal.”

Carroll ISD remains committed to hiring highly qualified professionals with appropriate certifications, and will continue to seek certified teachers to best serve its students. The district will establish its own exemption criteria regarding hiring, training, and support of locally certified teachers to best serve CISD students.

According to McDade, the exemption process will allow CISD to issue a local teaching certificate for qualified individuals to teach CTE courses, unique electives, and other innovative classes related to technology, engineering, and the arts, as many people who have qualifications in these fields do not hold a traditional teaching certification. With this exemption process, CISD would be able to hire community college instructors, college professors, lawyers, judges, and individuals from trades, industries, and vocations with professional experience and industry knowledge.

McDade said CISD is also seeking flexibility within the recommended Texas appraisal process for teachers and staff evaluated using the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). CISD seeks to continue utilizing portions of the T-TESS model as the teacher evaluation appraisal instrument, while desiring exemption from the Student Growth Measure. Data provided from district and campus local assessments will continue to be utilized to determine overall student growth and performance.

For more information on DOI, visit the District of Innovation page on the Carroll ISD website.