FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sonya Cole-Hamilton "Excellence Every Day…No Alibis, No Excuses"
Office: 972-218-1433 Cell: 972-358-7227
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Austin, Texas/Lancaster ISD
No one can whistle a symphony—it takes an entire orchestra. Everyone working together, sometimes playing different parts, yet all focused on creating something beautiful and meaningful.
And timing is everything.
For Team Lancaster ISD, the time is now and the music is sweet. State assessment scores have increased, 100 percent of all campuses were rated as Met Standard from the Texas Education Agency, the high school has the highest graduation rate in the Best Southwest area, the district’s financial status has improved and fresh off the heels of a state nomination from the Texas Association of School Boards, the district’s superintendent has again been recognized.
Dr. Michael D. McFarland has been selected to represent Texas in the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year program.
Dr. McFarland oversees a school district that serves more than 7,000 students, 96% of whom are African American and Hispanic, on the southern border of Dallas with nearly 85% of the students identified as economically disadvantaged.
A news release from the Texas Association of School Administrators shared that, "Dr. McFarland’s commitment to student success is evident by the significant gains made in student achievement, increases in the graduation rate and the increasing number of students taking more rigorous courses."
"When I first arrived to Lancaster ISD, my aspiration was to put people, programs and practices in place that would ensure that we would be the best of the Best Southwest," Dr. McFarland said. "We no longer just want to be the best of the Best Southwest. We want to be the best in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area as measured by the graduation rate."
In an effort to close the achievement gap in math and science and ensure that their students leave with more than a high school diploma, Dr. McFarland has overseen the design and implementation of a K-12 STEM For All Model. The strategy focuses on improving math and science instruction through comprehensive and embedded professional development in Problem-Based Learning with an emphasis on STEM disciplines.
Understanding that teacher capacity represented a significant barrier to sustainable success, Dr. McFarland created a partnership with the University of North Texas at Dallas to design a STEM master’s program, requiring all secondary math and science teachers to enter the program and receive targeted instruction focused on STEM. Upon completion of the program, those teachers will earn the newly created STEM master’s degree. Currently, more than 40 teachers in the district are participating—including some elementary teachers who have elected to enroll in the program as well.
"We have focused on increasing the rigor in all courses through the development of teacher capacity and improving the relevance of our curriculum by implementing problem-based learning activities focused on real world issues," Dr. McFarland said. "By being intentional about building a comprehensive system of support designed to increase college readiness and career preparation for students and families, we have significantly increased our graduation rate with more than 90% of our students graduating with a letter of acceptance to a college, university, military or with documented workforce plans. I believe it is this comprehensive approach to school transformation that has resulted in our positive results."
A national blue-ribbon panel of judges will select four finalists for AASA National Superintendent of the Year from among the 49 eligible state Superintendent of the Year nominees. The four finalists will be interviewed in Washington, D.C. in January. The 2015 National Superintendent of the Year will be announced and the state Superintendents of the Year will be honored at AASA’s National Conference on Education in San Diego in February.
Since 1988, the National Superintendent of the Year program has enabled Americans to recognize and honor U.S. superintendents for the contributions they make every day advocating for public education and students.
The Lancaster Public Schools serve more than 6,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 11 schools. The mission of the Lancaster Independent School District, a leader in providing innovative, quality programs, is to educate every student with the knowledge; skills; and principles to succeed and contribute in a competitive and technologically advancing world by providing rigorous and engaging learning opportunities that promote diversity; create an environment of integrity and respect; and establish a commitment to continued improvement in partnership with families and community.
422 S. Centre Ave. Lancaster, TX 75146 ~ 972.218.1400 ~ www.LancasterISD.org