WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As Wichita Falls Independent School District and school board officials met during the presentation of preliminary STAAR test results, academic improvement remains a topic of conversation for the District.

The WFISD board meeting on Monday night, November 13, 2023, tackled standardized test results, including some that were below the state average.

Board members said, however, there’s still time to turn things around.

“Mission critical, that’s the literal number one issue,” WFISD Superintendent Dr. Donny Lee said. “That’s our North Star, as we say, our number one goal.”

At Monday night’s meeting, the board was presented with the preliminary STAAR testing scores, and they did not paint a pretty picture.

They showed that children all across the district are experiencing learning challenges.

“A lot of times, we come into board meetings and we just paint everything with a broad brush that everything’s good, but we wanted the community to see that we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Lee said. “Here’s where we’re at, and a lot of our kids are not reading on grade level.”

Some scores were well below the state average in reading and math.

One area that requires a lot of focus, however, remains Kirby Middle School and whether they’ve improved academically.

After performing poorly in academic ratings for the past five years, we learned Kirby is still in limbo until the final results are released.

“We’re still in that stalemates with the courts,” Lee said. “They are still battling it out, and until we know, we don’t know if they are going to get out of ‘Improvement Required,’ which would mean that the two-year window wouldn’t start yet.”

Despite that, Kirby has made some progress in other areas quickly, which left board members wanting to amp up efforts on other campuses to get students over this hump.

“We all know that parent involvement and engagement is critical, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is having great teachers in every classroom,” Lee said. “If we have great teachers in every classroom, then the academic outcome is going to change. Dramatic improvement takes time.”

A lot of time and dedicated effort, which is something the board said they are willing to do for their students.

On a positive note, however, the board voted unanimously Monday night to award all district employees a one-time $1,000 bonus, which they should be receiving soon, for all their efforts.

The board also voted to approve the purchase of Rider High School’s Roof Restoration, and to demolish the Harrell Campus.

This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available.