FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Nearly two dozen North Texas school districts head back to class on Monday, including the 87,000 students in the Fort Worth Independent School District. The new school year brings some changes for Fort Worth, and superintendent Kent Scribner has three main goals.
Scribner stated that the district is in the process of transformation. This year, officials will be focusing on third-grade reading levels, math for the mid-year students, and college and career preparedness. The district spent the summer actively recruiting and hiring teachers, and making changes to the curriculum.
Trends show that many show struggle with reading comprehension at the third-grade level have a harder time catching up in later grades, making third grade a pivotal year. Scribner said that a newly launched program — the ‘100 By 25’ initiative — is aimed at having 100 percent of Fort Worth third graders reading at grade level or above by 2025.
Last year, the district reported that only 30 percent of Fort Worth third graders were reading at grade level.
To combat this, Scribner has invited local business leaders, elected officials, and philanthropic and faith organizations to get involved. “Third grade is important because that is when students transition into learning how to read to reading how to learn. We know that third-grade level is the best indication of college completion,” Scribner said.
Several underperforming schools are also being revamped into leadership academies.
“It’s a great opportunity to change the direction and change the destiny,” said Scribner.
That includes John T. White Elementary School, where the schedule looks a little different than last year. Instead of leaving at 3:00 p.m. like normal, students will stay for after-school enrichment programs and a 5:45 p.m. dinner. Students at this school were recruited from across the district, and parents are optimistic that the changes will pay off.
“I think that’s great. I think it allows the kids to kind of dive in and get more hands-on learning,” parent Joslyn Washington said before classes began, though she is curious about how the year will unfold. “It’s going to be a great experience and we are hoping for the best.”
The school board adopted a mission to prepare every student for success in college, career and community leadership. Parents with children in all grade levels of the Fort Worth ISD should be prepared to see changes that reflect that new focus, Scribner explained.
“I would tell parents,” Scribner added, “stay engaged, meet your teachers, meet your principal if you have time, volunteer for committees, understand that the parental involvement is a two-way flow of information.”