With approximately 85,000 students on 122 campuses and 12,000 employees, Austin ISD is not only the largest school district in the region, but also one of the largest employers.
Compared to students in other urban school districts in the nation, Austin ISD students continue to have among the highest math, science, reading, and writing scores, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress.
Results from the Nation’s Report Card show that AISD 4th- and 8th-grade students’ scores in science were among the highest in the nation, compared to the 16 other urban districts in the study, and AISD students are first in the nation in 8th-grade science.
Austin ISD sent more than $135 million back to the state last year as part of the recapture plan. With an increased enrollment, large bilingual and Economically Disadvantaged student population, a strong human capital strategy is necessary to retain the best qualified instructors amid strong competition for talent amongst Central Texas school districts and at the same time, increase student academic performance.
With the upcoming $892 million bond election in May 2013, it is imperative that the trustees strongly support the leadership team to show their unity to the community from whom they are seeking support from.
Austin ISD was the first district to fully participate in the Austin Chamber of Commerce’s initiatives in the 2005-2006 school year. It started with the Austin Chamber’s Education Progress Report regional project, which gave an overall view of the district’s academic performance correlated against community expectations. This fostered a stronger relationship with the business community, which in turn has helped support the district’s initiatives over the years. In the same year, it helped jump-start The University of Texas at Austin’s Ray Marshall Center’s Student Futures Project, whose core goal is to identify and address barriers to college enrollment.
The district also joined the Austin Chamber’s Financial Aid Committee and its College Readiness and Enrollment Support Taskforce (CREST) to further boost post-secondary enrollment in the region in the same year. The Austin Chamber’s annual Financial Aid Saturdays Program started in Austin ISD and has led to an estimated $9.5M to $14.7M of financial aid for Austin ISD students since participation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
To further support districts in their efforts in transitioning students to post-secondary institutions, the Austin Chamber funded a regional Counselor Portal Pilot in the 2011-2012 school year that would aggregate ApplyTexas, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Texas Student Initiative (TSI) student-level data in real-time for district college and career counselors. This allowed counselors to immediately monitor whether a student is ready for college and/or where they are in the college application process.
The Austin Chamber annually invests $550,000 in Austin Partners in Education (APIE) but also only partners with them to help connect more than a thousand volunteer “coaches” to Austin students to further increase college- and career-readiness rates. This commitment is made to not only create but strengthen the talent pool to help meet future workforce needs in the Austin area.
Text by Austin Chamber Education Report