Natalia students progressing in college, career, and military readiness

Students at Natalia High School are making strides in college, career, and military readiness (CCMR), according to a presentation given by Assistant Superintendent Donald Stewart at the NISD board meeting Jan. 14.
In the 2017-2018 school year, just 32 percent of Natalia graduates were classified as ready for college, a career, or joining the military. In response, NISD set a goal to have at least 50 percent of graduating seniors meet at least one CCMR indicator by the 2020-2021 school year.
As of December 2018, 53 percent of the 66 seniors expected to graduate had already met at least one CCMR indicator.
“We have already exceeded, already, what our final goal was, as of December,” Stewart said. “That was in the system, genuine, verified, guaranteed that the students have already met that indicator.”
The TSI Assessment exam is part of the Texas Success Initiative program designed to help determine if students are ready for college-level work in reading and mathematics. Thirty-eight percent of seniors have passed the reading portion of the exam, while nearly nine percent have passed math, and almost three percent have passed both. Fifty percent of seniors have not passed either portion of the TSI exam, which is not mandatory.
Thirty-six percent of seniors meet dual credit requirements, while 64 percent do not.
So far, eighteen percent of the Class of 2019 plans to enroll in the military.
“It’s a large amount of students,” Stewart said, “about 12 kids who are anticipating going into the military, and several others who have asked to speak with the recruiter.”
Six percent of seniors have passed both the SAT or ACT at college-readiness level.
“You have students that meet SAT math and TSI reading,” Stewart said. “Now [they] count as a student who has met CCMR quality. So if you meet math or reading in one exam, and you meet TSI in another or the ACT, now you count as a student who has met CCMR.”
Overall, 41 percent of students have met CCMR in multiple indicators, while 12 percent have met one indicator, and 47 percent have yet to meet any.
“Within that 47 percent that you’re seeing right now that have met no indicators, there are kids who have things lingering, like CTE (career and technical exam) certification,” Stewart said. “So we have a whole host of students who will be taking CTE certification, but because they have not passed those exams yet, we have not counted them in any way, shape, or form in the information that we’ve provided today.”
Stewart explained that the district is working to increase student performance and teacher effectiveness, including using AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and certification exams approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
“For our kids, the biggest hurdle typically was the cost,” Stewart said. “So we have removed the cost.”
Natalia ISD pays for all students to TSIA, SAT, ACT, and post-secondary employment CTE exams multiple times, as well as the tuition, fees, and books related to dual credit courses.
“Not everyone around us pays for TSI, not everyone around us pays for SAT,” Stewart said. “And definitely not everybody around us are even assisting with dual credit tuition, because that is a rising, changing cost. We pay for all that for our students because that removes a hurdle that made it very difficult for them to be able to take the courses.”
Stewart said that the increase in student performance showed that the district was moving in the right direction.
“I think at this point because these are just becoming some of the norms, that the CTE teachers, the dual credit math and English teachers, other teachers throughout the primary grades all the way through junior high are starting to really understand that the expectation is for our kids to be very successful after they graduate,” Stewart said. “So when they’re ready to graduate, they have a lot of opportunities in front of them.”
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer