Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dyslexia Program Update

It is with great pleasure that I would like to announce the new Dyslexia program in GCISD. The program will be based on the Scottish Rite Hospital's "Take Flight" program, and details will be presented to the School Board and the public during the September Board meeting. Four GCISD teachers began the "Take Flight" / Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) training at Scottish Rite last month, and additional teachers will receive the training next year. If you want to hear more details about the new program, please join us in our School Board meeting on September 28th, 2009 at 7PM. You can also call the GCISD administration office for more information.

If you want to learn more about the "Take Flight" program, click the following link:

I would like to thank the GCISD administration for working with the Scottish Rite Hospital to bring arguably the best Dyslexia program in the state to our district. I would also like to thank all the parents that brought their concerns to the GCISD administration and the School Board. This is a great example of what we can accomplish for our kids if we work together. I understand that we are just starting the program, and I am sure its implementation will bring new challenges. However, I am very excited about the opportunity to identify and serve many more of our students with this condition.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Jeff Black (Medical Director), Mrs. Gladys Kolenovsky (Business Director) and their staff at the Scottish Rite Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia for their guidance and assistance.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Accountability Ratings 2009 - North Texas Comparison

GCISD mission is to be "the BEST". In order to be the best, I believe it is important to compare our district performance with the top districts in the state and around the country. It is not possible to be the BEST without knowing how the best districts are performing. For that reason, I decided to compare GCISD with our peer districts here in North Texas. The goal is to identify gaps in performance (in subject areas or student subgroups) in order to know where to focus our efforts to become the BEST district in the state.

There are many factors that could be compared among school districts in order to decide which district is "the BEST". We can compare performance based on TAKS, SAT, ACT, AP, percentage of students going to College and many others. I believe it would be very interesting to compare some of these factors, so let's start with TAKS results. In late July, the TAKS scores and Accountability Ratings were published by the Texas Education Agency. The table below illustrates a summary of district-wide results, including each subject area and some of the student subgroups in GCISD and other suburban districts in North Texas.

The table indicates that GCISD scores were very strong in the areas of Reading, Writing and Social Studies, with ALL Students passing at a rate of at least 98%. In the areas of Math and Science, GCISD also had a strong performance for ALL Students (93%, 5th highest among compared districts), but we can see performance gaps in the Economically Disadvantage Students subgroup when compared with some of the other districts included in the report.

In order to be the BEST in terms of TAKS performance, GCISD needs to continue to focus in the areas of Math and Science, placing a strong emphasis on the Economically Disadvantage students. The district is already showing improvements on this student subgroup, increasing its TAKS scores by 5% in Math and 2% in Science from a year ago. As we look for ways to have a significant impact in these subject areas in the near future, GCISD is planning to perform an audit on its Math and Science curriculum, and findings will be presented to the Board this Fall.

If you are interested in getting involve as a Math or Science tutor (or in any other subject) in our district, or as a mentor for some of our kids, please contact one of our schools or send me an email to

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Welcome to the New School Year!

I would like to welcome all of you to the new 2009 - 2010 School Year! I am very excited about serving you on the School Board for a second year. I would like to encourage you to get involved in our schools. We are always in need of volunteers, either for extra curricular activities, classroom activities, mentoring and tutoring. If you want to get involve but don't know what to do, please visit your school office.

I would also like to invite you to post comments on this Blog. You can suggest new issues for discussions, or post comments on current issues being discussed. The more involved we are in our School District, the better our district is going to be. To fulfill our mission to be "the Best", we need a strong community involvement. We also want to hear how are we doing. If there is something you love about our district, let us know. If there is something you feel we need to improve, we want to hear from you. All comments are welcome!

Acountability Ratings 2009

I want to congratulate GCISD for their great results in the latest Texas Education Agency Accountability Ratings. GCISD maintained its Recognize status, and three of our schools increased their ratings: Colleyville Heritage High School and Grapevine Middle School earned Recognized status, and Silver Lake Elementary earned Exemplary status. GCISD currently has ten Exemplary, five Recognized and three Academically Acceptable Schools.

Congratulations to all students, teachers and administrators for your hard work and great achievement!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dyslexia Program Update

Great news! GCISD is moving forward with a complete overhaul of their Dyslexia program, adopting the Take Flight Intervention curriculum from the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. The District will present a program update in the September 28th Board meeting.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TAKS 2009

I want to dedicate the next few posts to evaluate GCISD's performance in the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test (TAKS), which is the main tool used by the Texas Education Agency to rank the School Districts in the state. The following table illustrates the District-wide results for the 2008 and 2009 tests, in all grades and subjects:

As shown in the table, scores stayed the same or improved at all levels except one. The exception was 6th Grade Math, but that area went down just 1% to a still very high 97% passing rate. Another general area worth noticing is the very high performance at the Elementary School level in all grades and subjects, with the lowest score at 95%.

Overall, Reading and Language Arts have been a priority for the District for many years, and it shows in the scores across the board. The District also reached 90% passing rates or above for all grades in Writing and Social Studies. Also, there was significant improvement in 8th Grade Science. Science is a subject were kids are struggling across the state and the nation, but GCISD is very close to having 90% of all our students passing the TAKS in that subject.

The most challenging area based on District-wide TAKS results is Math at the High School level. Math and Science are areas were the District will continue to focus in the coming school year, and I have no doubt that we will continue to see score improvements in future tests.

I want to congratulate our teachers, central administration and students for a job well done!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lessons from Iran

A few postings ago, I expressed my disappointment about the low turnout in our last School Board election. Watching the protests that followed the Iran presidential election against alleged electoral fraud makes me wonder if there is a lesson we can teach our kids. We have seen thousands of people marching on the streets of Tehran, some of them losing their lives, for their right to a fair election. It was only 44 years ago that the United States went through similar events, during the peak of the American Civil Rights Movement, marked by the Selma to Montgomery marches. The events culminated with the passing of the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, ensuring the voting rights for African Americans and other minorities.

Fast forward to 2009, and the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the World (less than 65%, according to the "US Election Project" by George Mason University). We should take the example of our fellow citizens of Iran to teach our kids about our past struggles to grant everyone the right to vote. We have the right to choose our local, state and national leaders, who set policy on education, healthcare, finance, national defense and other critical issues in our country. Many nations around the Globe do not have that privilege. Let's teach our kids that voting is an important right that should not be taken for granted.

If you want to read more information about the "US Election Project", please visit

Monday, June 15, 2009

My visit to the Dyslexia Center at Scottish Rite

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to visit the Lukes Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. I requested a meeting with their staff as part of my research in this area, trying to learn best practices in terms of diagnosis and treatment from the experts in the field. During my visit, I met with Dr. Jeffrey Black (Medical Director), Ms. Gladys Kolenovsky (Administrative Director), Dr. Monte Davenport (Diagnostics Services Coordinator), Dr. E. Vennecia Jackson, Ms. Tricia Quisenberry (Outreach Coordinator) and Ms. Evelyn Madu (Dyslexia therapist instructor). We had a very informative 90-minute meeting, where we discussed the TEA Dyslexia Handbook, different diagnosis and treatment methods and the importance of continuous monitoring after the kids leave a Dyslexia program.

The staff at Scottish Rite indicated that implementation of an effective assessment and treatment program is closely tied to the right and continuous training and level of experience of the staff making the assessments and treating the condition. It is important that the staff working to diagnose and treat the students keeps up with the latest research findings, as many changes in the field have occurred in the last 20 years. Dr. Black provided to me a list of great sources of information in the area of reading intervention, including and

The staff at Scottish Rite is very interested in partnering with school districts in DFW to make sure we provide effective programs to all our kids. They are a great resource for training and staff support. Also, since the hospital’s inception in 1921, no patient family has been charged for services. The hospital operates solely on voluntary gifts from generous individuals, corporations and foundations. We are extremely lucky to have Dr. Black and his staff in our backyard.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

GCISD 2009 Elections

I want to welcome Mrs. Becky St. John to the GCISD School Board! I am very excited to have her on the Board. Becky won the election on May 9th, with 1095 out of 2082 votes (52.59%). 2082 votes make only 4.5% of the registered voters in GCISD. The low voter turnout for local elections in GCISD is normal, but disappointing. The quality of education in our school district is one of the key factors that makes these communities attractive to live in. The School Board sets the goals and priorities for the district, monitors district performance, adopts the annual budget and sets the property tax rate. Also, the Board ensures the community is kept informed about the district actions. Board members represent the community within the district. Don't you want to make sure we elect Board members that truly care about the quality of education in the district, for all our kids? Aren't you interested in electing members that want to challenge the district to improve in order to fulfill its mission to be the best? Voters have several opportunities to ask questions to Board candidates, during various candidate forums held a few weeks before the election. Also, you can usually contact candidates by email, to ask questions on issues you feel are important.

Now that we start a new year for the School Board, I would like to invite you to attend one of our monthly meetings and speak to us in the Open Forum. The Board is here to represent you. We take the needs of our community very seriously. If there are issues in the district you feel are not being properly addressed, we would love to hear from you. Improving our district is the responsibility of all of us. So please, get involved. Let your voice be heard!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dyslexia Program at GCISD

The School Board had the opportunity to discuss the Dyslexia program at GCISD during the April 27th Board meeting. We heard from 5 parents that faced many difficulties to get the School District to correctly diagnose and treat their children. We also heard from the GCISD Administration, where they stated their success in their reading intervention and Dyslexia programs, based on the performance of the students in the Reading TASK. The administration mentioned there are currently 44 students in their Dyslexia program, and over 1000 students receiving assistance through the reading intervention program.

I have to admit I am no expert in Dyslexia or Special Needs education. However, I love to analyze statistics, in order to compare our District performance with other districts, state and national levels. Many studies on this subject suggest the incidence of Dyslexia within school age children in the United States is between 5 - 10%, while other studies state a wider rate, falling in between 1% and 20%. This suggests the number of GCISD students in our Dyslexia program is too small (0.3% rate). This becomes more obvious when you look at other districts in DFW, like HEB, where they have 600 students in their program (3% incidence rate). HEB has a total of 20,000 students, while GCISD has close to 13,900. Using the incidence rate at HEB of 3%, our Dyslexia program should have over 400 students.

At the end of the discussion, the Board requested a review of this program, suggesting that we need to look at both its effectiveness and the process we use to diagnose our kids. I am looking forward to discussing the improvement plan for this program in the near future.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Welcome to my GCISD Blog!

I am a member of the GCISD School Board and would like to give the opportunity to teachers, parents and all citizens to give their feedback about our District. I understand that some of you might feel more comfortable giving anonymous feedback about issues in our schools, and here is your opportunity.

If you ever wanted to ask a question to a Board member, well, here is your chance! If you want to discuss school finance or the work environment at your school, we can do it right here.

The purpose of this Blog is to work together to improve our district. The more ideas we exchange, the more issues we bring to the table, the better off our district will be. If you have any topics you would like to discuss, please let me know.

Please let others know about our site, To comment on my Blog, you can sign up using your Google email account, or you can create an account right here. Just click on the "comments" link below one of my posts. It is very easy. If you prefer to post anonymous comments, you can use a nickname (on the "Display Name" field when creating your account). In that case, your real name or email will not be visible when you post a comment.

If you have any questions about this Blog, please post a comment or contact me by email at