Urgent Issues Action Plan


 

EDUCATION

OVERVIEW
The growing diversity of the student population across the nation is pressuring schools to examine longstanding traditional approaches to meeting students' educational needs, both effectively and economically. Over 40 percent of AISD students have academic, attendance, or behavior problems that place them at risk of dropping out of school. There are a variety of issues that contribute to these problems and these issues are applicable on a regional basis. While the initial focus was on the seven school districts in Travis County, the Education Planning group felt the following urgent issues were applicable on a regional basis since improved education, workforce development, and sustainability are regional concerns:

  • There is a shortage of qualified/certified teachers.
  • K-12 students are often unprepared to succeed in higher education or the workforce.
  • Not enough students are encouraged to enroll in challenging courses/programs.
  • High expectations are not consistently communicated to all students.
  • Student learning often suffers due to family and community issues (housing, basic needs, family violence, etc.) that are not effectively addressed.
  • Resources are fragmented and hard for families and educators to access.
  • Too many students are not on track to attain their educational goals or do not remain in school.

Strategies and suggestions to address some of these critical issues that threaten students' academic success and preparation for the workforce include the need for more collaboration and synergy between all levels of public education (secondary and post-secondary), as well as business and community sectors. Numerous strategies to increase linkages between education, business, and industry are emphasized throughout the matrix. Developing a consensus on regional strategies and community interconnectedness is another strategy. Longstanding disparities between districts and barriers to the success of many students, especially those from traditionally underserved and economically disadvantaged populations, continue to persist. Since students move back and forth between different school districts, facilitating a "best practices" exchange among districts would be very beneficial. The planning group hopes that Region XIII will be instrumental in establishing an ongoing forum for the sharing of "best practices" among school districts. Building upon existing resources and infrastructures is an effective and efficient method of leveraging resources and maximizing services.

In addition, the need to improve parental knowledge of educational systems and personal involvement through increased resources is imperative. Other strategies focus on the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers, student education plans, and attitudes toward low achieving and special education students. "Higher expectations" for all students - from the highly prepared to the underprepared - should resonate throughout the schools, to include those of faculty, administrators, and staff.

THE EDUCATION PLANNING PROCESS
In response to the "call to action" to address urgent issues contained in the CAN assessment work, the Education Planning Group - comprised of secondary and post-secondary educational providers, members representing non-profit organizations, City and County government, faith-based organizations, and planning organizations - identified seven urgent issues deemed critical to the academic achievement and workforce preparation of all students. The Austin/Travis County Community Action Network Education Community Assessment report can be referred to for a more comprehensive analysis of educational issues affecting the community.

THE EDUCATION PLANNING MATRIX
The attached matrix presents the most urgent educational issues, identifiable solutions that can be undertaken to achieve desired results, and opportunities for financial and human investment that could contribute to positive outcomes. In summary, the matrix is intended to provide tools to school districts to address family and community issues that negatively impact student learning and provide students and families with all of the support they need. Existing programs and resources currently available in the community to provide assistance in addressing these problems are also listed.

The committee contact for the Education Planning issues is Sharon King, Austin Community College, (512) 223-7695 or email her at sking@austincc.edu.

2001 Urgent Issues Action Plan Home Page