In my fifth year in Pearland ISD, I’m more grateful than ever to live and serve in such a fine community of educators and citizens. I strongly believe that we are a community set apart – by God’s blessing – to accomplish great things.
Several years ago our trustees created a vision for “world-class goals." Since that time, we’ve had substantially more than just subtle hints that we are on our way. We believe one giant step toward “world-class” is to be proclaimed the best of the best in the greater Houston area (out of more than 50 school districts and assorted charter schools). Most recently, we were rated the No. 3 school district in the Houston area (Niche.com) for a combination of high academics and parent/student satisfaction. In 2015, our state test scores for every subject and every grade level are in the top five of area districts. Perhaps most promising are the 2015 math scores, with Pearland ISD scoring No. 1 in third grade.
We look beyond state measures for determining our place in the nation and the world. Thus, College Board Advanced Placement programs and tests are a huge part of our internal accountability system. We’ve seen astronomical growth in participation rates, high test score numbers and a record number of state/national AP scholars. We’ve supplemented those results with “dual credit” college opportunities for thousands of kids. We’ve added and expanded career certifications achievable before high school graduation in areas ranging from veterinary science to information technology and welding. In 2015, we had more than 30 students graduate from high school with an associate's degree from Alvin Community College.
Accordingly, our SAT scores rose by an astounding number in 2014 – and we now await final stats on the 2015 scores. We’ve recorded new highs on the ACT. While the rest of the nation sees Texas as among the top states for educational progress/reform, Pearland ISD is on an even steeper climb. Our SAT and ACT scores are significantly higher than state and national averages. This was recently highlighted when one of the Houston TV stations covered Pearland ISD’s tremendous increase on a special news segment.
While we are certainly proud of our highest-achieving students, we’re equally mindful that "world-class" means helping those who face life’s greatest challenges. The "Children at Risk" foundation recently rated all of the schools in the greater Houston area in achievement level of economically-disadvantaged/diverse students. We were the only mid to large district in the greater Houston area (i.e. greater than 10,000 students) in which every campus was rated "A" or "B," with most rated "A."
In addition, Texas has recently been lauded for having the highest graduation rates in the nation for different ethnicities. Pearland ISD is easily one of the most diverse school districts in the state/nation. Our own graduation rates (97 percent) are about 10 percent higher than the state averages – and our most recent dropout rate for grades 7-12 is 0 percent!
I don’t need to render statistics about athletics or fine arts. Every team and school we face knows of our prowess. Regional and state athletic championships will doubtless continue. I am flat-out astounded by the talent and skill of students in our music and drama productions. That talent has resulted in regional and state finalists and champions.
Every accomplished school district must build upon a strong financial foundation built stone by cornerstone over many years. We continue to receive the highest marks from the state for financial accountability (see FAST and FIRST accountability state rankings). Most recently, we received a perfect (Superior) score on the Financial Accountability System governed by TEA. We have a solid reserve fund, enabling our district to rely on more than three months of operating reserves for any emergencies. Prior school boards bought land when it was inexpensive, so we have all we need for future expansion. In fact, we just sold one our sites for a tremendous "profit."
"World-class schools" require a constant chase after perfection. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the Pearland High School Academic Decathlon team. Considered a perennial favorite to win the state championship, our 2014-15 team annihilated the competition in Texas before going on to the nationals in Hawaii. There teammates finished second in the nation – and were proclaimed the top PUBLIC school in the U.S.
We won't rest on our laurels – for fear that we’ve peaked. But I’m thankful for where we are now and especially for the people who make all this happen here in Pearland!