Teacher Commitment and Student Growth

The stars of GISD’s pandemic year

“It was about compassion and teachers not just plowing through, but also showing grace and humility. We must be human, take care of humans, and allow our littlest humans to focus on their pursuit of learning.”

Wes Vanicek

The strategic plan created in 2014 and implemented by Dr. Fred Brent in 2015 has been paying off since then in the success of the students who attend and have graduated from GISD. Recently, however, the Texas Education Association (TEA) also highlighted another success; GISD’s STAAR scores during the COVID year. 

In any other school year, a decrease in scores would have been cause for criticism. However, the Georgetown community can be proud of the fact that, with all the distractions of current events and distance learning, Georgetown’s STAAR scores declined by less than half of that of the state average, and even showed improvement in some grade levels and topics. 

Dr. Brent explains, “We outperformed most of the districts in the state. What that tells me is, during the pandemic, our teachers pressed on with the implementation of our district curriculum and assessment systems designed to promote student growth. We know we have work ahead and we will continue pursuing our goals. At the same time, we continue to put great faith in our MAP testing as a good predictor of student growth. Bottom line; our educators stayed on the path of teaching the standards, assessing progress, and modifying instruction according to needs that focus on student growth.” 


Wes Vanicek, GISD Chief Strategist of Assessment and Feedback said, “Students in grades 3 to 11 take 19 different topic tests. In 17 of those tests, we outperformed more than half of the state. We even saw an increase in some of the subject tests. This is a credit to our teachers, who were on the front lines, ready for kids to come back. It wasn’t easy for them to do, but they created conditions that were conducive to learning but still safe enough to learn in a pandemic. They knocked it out of the park and proved our point that our curriculum and assessments are aligned across the board.” 


As students returned to school August 19, Dr. Brent says the top priority for teachers and administration was to meet students where they are. “Getting kids back into the school—some of whom haven’t been here since March of 2020—was what our teachers have been preparing for. They are ready to navigate the challenges that may already exist, or emerge over time. Each of us in GISD is committed to helping each student pursue one year of academic growth regardless of where they start.” 

Wes agrees, “We have shown that what we started in 2015 was not a flash in the pan, but the work does take time. These STAAR scores are strong evidence of academic growth, and MAP testing, which allowed us to recognize growth and meet needs on the fly.”