Texas Wesleyan and Fort Worth ISD partner on district’s Leadership Academies

The Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan University announced Feb. 13 an innovative five-year partnership to sustain the rising academic achievements of the District’s five Leadership Academies.

The agreement establishes the Leadership Academy Network, a first-of-its-kind initiative that leverages the resources of the Texas Wesleyan School of Education and the Fort Worth ISD Office of Innovation and Transformation, the organizations said in a news release.

Network schools include the Leadership Academies at Como Elementary, John T. White Elementary, Maude I. Logan Elementary, Mitchell Boulevard Elementary and Forest Oak Middle School – once-struggling campuses that became part of an education model piloted by the district in 2017.

The partnership with Texas Wesleyan, approved by the Fort Worth ISD board on Feb. 12, is the next phase of that effort, designed to maintain and build upon Leadership Academy successes and move the schools from promising initial results to sustained levels of high student achievement, the news release said.

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“We firmly believe that all students can succeed and thrive, given the right learning environment,” Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner said in the announcement.

“Between the demonstrated successes of the Leadership Academy model and the institutional resources Texas Wesleyan will bring to these campuses, we expect strong results going forward as we prepare these students for college, career and community leadership,” Scribner said.

The Leadership Academy model features high-achieving teachers and principals, specifically chosen for their track record of significant growth with similar students and their willingness to engage in rigorous work.

The Leadership Academies will also continue their commitments to instructional excellence, extended-day learning, social-emotional support for students and enhanced parent and community partnerships – tactics that have proven effective, the release said.

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In the first year of operations, all Leadership Academies came off the Texas Education Agency’s “Improvement Required” list and demonstrated levels of student growth that placed them among the top half of campuses across the state.

Texas Wesleyan will operate and manage the schools under a performance contract, and the Texas Wesleyan board will serve as the governing board for the Leadership Academy Network.

Texas Wesleyan will create a leadership team to manage the network and will form a steering committee of veteran educators and administrators to help guide that work.

The university’s School of Education will provide data-driven academic oversight and intensive professional development, based on faculty expertise in instruction, curriculum and administration. The campuses will remain Fort Worth ISD schools staffed by Fort Worth ISD employees, and students are still Fort Worth ISD students.

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The partnership developed as a result of Texas Senate Bill 1882, or the Texas Partnership Opportunity, which went into effect in 2017 and provides financial incentives for school districts to expand the diversity of school options, bring in targeted expertise and empower school leaders and partners with greater autonomy.

Texas Wesleyan is Fort Worth’s oldest institution of higher learning, with a long history of working with Fort Worth ISD.

Leadership Academy teacher education opportunities will strengthen Texas Wesleyan’s pipeline of graduates entering employment with Fort Worth ISD. Texas Wesleyan intends to utilize its students as a source of volunteers, mentors and role models for Leadership Academy students.

“The Leadership Academy model reflects the mission of our School of Education to meet the challenges of instruction and learning in the 21st century,” said Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick G. Slabach. “We believe that together, we can sustain the academic gains experienced at these five campuses while solidifying a model with potential for much broader impact across the nation.”

The Leadership Academy Network impacts about 3,000 students. The transition in leadership will take effect before the start of the 2019-20 school year.

– FWBP Staff