- Hillsboro Independent School District
- Thoughts of a Superintendent
Community-Based AccountabilityPosted by Vicki Adams on 8/14/2018
School districts, communities, and parents all want true accountability for their children’s education, but the current accountability system fails to provide these stakeholders with accurate and actionable information. True accountability can’t come from a state or national system; it must be a respectful partnership between state and local interests. It must come from the community’s hopes and dreams for its children.
In response to ongoing frustration with the current accountability system, Hillsboro has joined with 62 other public school districts in Texas to develop a grass-roots Community-Based Accountability System (CBAS) where every child is valued and respected and schools can be evaluated beyond state standardized tests. This collective group of districts has partnered with the Texas Association of School Administrators to form the Texas Public Accountability Consortium (TPAC.)
Along with the other Texas districts, we are designing the CBAS model to reflect the diversity, talents, skills, and priorities of communities of all sizes and demographics. Ultimately, the CBAS will allow school districts to identify the unique needs of their community, and evaluate how decisions and changes result in continuous improvement for all students. It will give a full account of what schools do to educate all children, and avoid the inaccuracies that come from assigning a single grade to a system. It will celebrate the hard-earned successes of students, teachers, administrators, and community members.
The educators involved in this consortium believe a student’s academic success is only one part of how a school and district should be evaluated. Through the CBAS process, communities will have the ability to create an accountability system that will take into account areas of the school district that are not “tested” in a traditional sense. There will be a process to ensure true accountability with reliability and validity, and metrics and indicators to show improvement and growth. We are excited to be part of this critical work in Texas public education, and we are eager to share our work in the near future.
Blessings for a great school year!
Hillsboro ISD Superintendent
Cowboy UpPosted by Vicki Adams on 8/22/2017
Whether you have ever ridden a horse or not, chances are many of you have heard or used the expression, “Cowboy up”! As parents, we have gotten away from that concept by always trying to make sure that our children are happy rather than teaching them to deal with disappointment.
Carolyn Kubecka, a previous principal of mine, sent me an interesting article by John Rosemond, a family psychologist that encouraged parents to not ask principals for teacher reassignments. (Some parents have now decided he is a parenting Satan.) Parents may remark that a certain child might do “better” with one teacher as opposed to another. Better in what sense? If grades are the issue, that perspective might be near-sighted. What about the benefit of learning that life often is not fair, to keep trying even in undesirable circumstances? What are we teaching if we intervene in every adverse situation? As Dr. Rosemond states, “The greatest gains have been produced under the most unpleasant conditions.”
As an educator, I have seen parents come in, without even knowing the teacher their child has been assigned, and want their child moved because they have heard that teacher is mean or strict. Most often, the real reason for a request to have a child moved is because the child’s friend is in another room. As a child, when I did not get what I wanted, my parents told me to ‘Cowboy Up’ or something similar to it. I did not even try to complain about a teacher. Had I done so, my parents would have been asking me what I had done wrong and gone to talk to the teacher. (Would I ever be in trouble then!!)
Dr. Rosemond wrote, “Many of our parents want everything to be easy for their children and for their children to be happy all the time. Real life is not always easy or happy, and children need to learn how to cope with people and situations that they don’t like or agree with. Parents need to be parents and stop trying to be ‘friends’ with their children.”
Guiding our children how to accept full responsibility for their actions and for their own happiness are valuable lifetime lessons to teach them. Adversity is an unavoidable aspect of life and the earlier our children learn to accept it and deal with it, the better. Today many parents try to shield their children from adversity because they feel it is a bad thing. This is why our kids today complain so much.
In my day, we may have complained about school, teachers, the principal and so on, but we griped to each other, not to our parents. Our parents were not involved in such things and our generation will admit that we were better off because of it.
A friend sent me this quote recently, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.” Shouldn’t we teach our children how to respond rather than try to change what happens to them? Remember, we cannot guarantee another person’s happiness. As always, the choice is yours.
(Portions borrowed from John Rosemond who answers parent questions on his Website at www.rosemond.com.)
A-F Accountability SystemPosted by Vicki Adams on 1/9/2017
The Texas Education Agency recently released their preliminary A - F ratings for Texas school districts. The timing of this release coincides with the beginning of the 85th legislative session and was required in HB 2804, which was passed in the 84th legislative session. The process and procedures, according to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, “represent work-in-progress models that are likely to change before A–F ratings become effective in August 2018”. They were developed for the legislature to review and determine its feasibility and reliability. If approved this 85th legislative biennium, the final draft will be released and used with 2017-2018 data and presented to the public in August of 2018. The current draft results are part of a benchmark year and at this point are meaningless.
As Hillsboro ISD designs innovative, engaging, rigorous lessons, plus meets the needs of each child individually, this accountability system does not depict who we are as a district. Also the current draft results at this time do not indicate how well any other district in the state is doing either, but rather proves that the 85th Legislature and TEA have a great deal more work to do. We want our staff and students to know that we are extremely proud of them as every Hillsboro ISD campus facilitates much more learning than can ever be measured by a standardized test on one day out of the year. Hillsboro ISD will never be defined by a letter grade of A through F because we know each student is much more than a test score. As always we will use our assessment data to work on “continuous improvement” in every area of our district. The A-F Accountability System holds us accountable to no one. On the other hand, our constant monitoring and assessments hold us accountable to the students and their parents to ensure students are making more than adequate progress.
As parents and community members, please visit our campuses, events and website often to witness the meaningful learning experiences we are providing our students.
The Pike SyndromePosted by Vicki Adams on 1/1/2017
My dad took us to Minnesota for a couple summer vacations when I was young and my husband’s family still owns a cabin up there, so we have spent much time catching Northern Pike. In case you are unfamiliar with the Pike, it is an aggressive fish (with teeth) that lives in the northern regions of the United States and in Canada. An experiment has been done with the Northern Pike where one was placed in one-half of a large aquarium with numerous minnows swimming visibly and freely in the other half of a glass divided tank. As the pike became hungrier, it made numerous unsuccessful efforts to eat the minnows, but only succeeded in battering its snout against the glass divider. Slowly the pike learned that reaching the minnows was an impossible task, and simply gave up. When the glass partition was removed, the pike surprisingly didn’t attack the minnows even though they swam freely around the tank. Why?...the Pike Syndrome.
The Pike Syndrome is all too common in school and in our everyday lives. We make assumptions or feel victimized by our environment, and fail to push past our self-imposed barriers of limitation. Are you a victim of the Pike Syndrome? Are you held back by an imaginary glass divider? What do you need to do to start swimming freely? For many of us, it’s simply coming to the realization that we are being held back by ourselves, not some imaginary force beyond our control.
I suspect we all fall victim to the Pike Syndrome in one way or another. What have you wanted to do but have held back because you’ve believed it impossible? Have you not tackled something that you are really interested in because you thought you could not achieve the outcome you were looking for? As a student or even as an adult, have you failed to pursue training, education or an advancement at work because of a remembered failure? Many of us are not risk-takers by nature and then if we have had difficult experiences, we are even less likely to attempt reaching a goal. Awareness is the first step to overcoming this syndrome. Once you realize that concept may pertain to you, you will be more likely to do something about it.
Our HISD innovative teachers and leaders are a fine example of overcoming tasks that may seem impossible. The State and Federal governments impose rigorous testing mandates upon public schools in Texas. Rather than incorporating drill and kill lessons to pass the assessments, we have teachers willing to make meaningful experiences for our students in which they can learn difficult material in fun and relevant methods. Many of us would be that pike continuously hitting that glass divider and simply give up instead of creating rewarding lessons for our students. Throughout our school district, the many teachers who are willing to lead students and take chances are developing students who are also now willing to put themselves out there without a fear of failure. A prime example would be Pam Hamilton who pushes elementary kids past boundaries to create and learn from making many mistakes and asking tough questions.
The business of education is filled with many adversities and hurdles. Rather than give up, we can utilize these as opportunities to reach lofty goals such as ensuring every student can be a creator. When life puts up barriers, whether they may be glass or something else, how would you like your child to learn to react?
(portions taken from Anne Grady’s blog)
Giving ThanksPosted by Vicki Adams on 11/14/2016
It's hard to believe Thanksgiving will soon be here. With the holidays upon us, it is easy to get caught up lamenting money, jobs, bills, people who have wronged us, etc., especially during difficult financial times. Remember, what you focus on, you get more of. Every time you catch yourself worrying about what you don't have, take a moment to give thanks for what you do have. In fact, research has proven that thinking of three things you are grateful for each day when you wake up and go to sleep can actually begin to shift your thinking! This attitude change can improve achievement and production. To become more cognizant of our blessings it might help to keep a gratitude journal, or notes in your phone, or a list on your computer to record what you are grateful for.
For example, my journal or notes would be long. Some of the items in my journal would include:
- To have landed in Hillsboro and be employed at the school district;
- My husband and our families;
- Our children who have grown to become productive, responsible adults;
- Our grandson who is so loving and lots of fun;
- The free, quality education that our students receive in HISD;
- Dedicated teachers and campus staff members who put in many long hours to plan and implement great lessons, who tutor struggling students and who create rewarding experiences for our children;
- For coaches, sponsors and directors who put in additional hours to allow students to experience activities that many children would never have the opportunity to participate in was it not for the sacrifices these staff members make;
- For the HISD Board Members who make policies and designate funds to keep our district current in the ever changing world of education and technology, who support District staff members and administrators in being innovative rather than driven by test scores, and who truly care about our students and staff;
- And in my long list of gratefulness, I could never leave out the maintenance, custodial, transportation, cafeteria, and technology staffs – these people work extremely hard each day to support our students and staff behind the scenes and always have time for a kind word and a smile;
- I am extremely grateful for the fun, hard-working, supportive Administration Building staff and especially for Paula who has the never ending job of keeping my life organized;
- I am particularly thankful for the HISD campus administrators who as a team work diligently and innovatively to have high achieving campuses and ensure students and staff have all the tools and support to be successful;
- And I am particularly grateful for our parents, businesses and community. Whether I know you by name or not, I appreciate your support and collaboration with us to ensure our children are successful and achieving at high levels.
Even though Thanksgiving holidays will soon be over for another year, it is never too late to be thankful for the many blessings we do have. As you take some much needed time off, remember to truly give thanks and feel gratitude for the wonderful things in your life.
Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings to you every day of the year!
No RegretsPosted by Vicki Adams on 5/12/2016
I know this is an overused cliché but here goes, “How fast time flies!” especially in the school business! Graduation is almost upon us once again. A very special class is about to graduate from Hillsboro High School. Then again before we know it, we will already have another crop of children beginning their education as they enter Franklin Elementary or Hillsboro Elementary next fall. A piece of advice I would like to emphasize for beginning students and graduates alike is to have ‘no regrets’. To our graduating seniors, I am sure you have had much advice throughout your school years in Hillsboro and are appreciatively collecting more opinions to benefit your years after graduation. Of course, your superintendent is no different than the many others who have advised you throughout the years – she has plenty to share:
Graduates - I often discuss with employers and high education administrators what makes a good employee in today’s workforce. We concurred what many times gives one candidate an edge over another applicant is that he/she has excelled in some area or preferably several areas such as attendance, scholastic achievement, extracurricular activities and so on. No employer wants to hire someone who does ‘just enough to get by’. The same passion and enthusiasm that it took to do well throughout school years can easily be transferred to a career. We come across many, many good applicants, but what sets some of them apart from the others is often that desire to do well, whether it was for an organization, on an activity or project, in athletics, and hopefully towards academics.
Continuing with that thought, even if you have not done so up to this point, it is now time to live with ‘no regrets’! While in the working world, in college, at a technical school, volunteering, at home or with whatever task you choose to take on, complete it exceedingly well. In your short 18 or 19 years of life, you may have already made many decisions that you have regretted: “Why did I miss school? Now I can’t put perfect attendance on my resume?” or “Why did I not study harder so my GPA would be higher?” or “Why did I not run for an officer position?” or hopefully not, “Why did I misbehave and spend that time in ISS?” Even if you already regret a few of your decisions or your lack of achievement during public education years, the good news is that each day you have the opportunity to do well at something. As has been said, “If you want to be a ditch digger, then be the best darn ditch digger you can be!”
As an example, I was very shy and lacked confidence during my younger years. This in turn kept me from attempting to participate where I might have to speak in front of a group of peers or adults. I was intelligent and hard-working; therefore, I may have had opinions and ideas which would have added value to some groups or organizations in high school and college not to mention all that I could have gleaned from participation. My limitations kept me back; I wanted to break free of them and soar. I excelled in a few areas, but I had the potential to do much more. Furthermore, my education would have been much more rewarding and meaningful to me had I stepped out of my comfort zone.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” by Ralph Waldo. Take this message to heart. Utilize what is within each and every one of you to live a life with ‘no regrets’.
What Our Future HoldsPosted by Vicki Adams on 2/3/2016
After the recent Christmas break and as we all look forward to what is in store for 2016, I would like to express my gratitude to all of the people of the Hillsboro community and school system. I feel very blessed to have arrived in Hillsboro, especially when I am allowed to work alongside great employees and have gotten to meet gracious and generous community members. However, as I sat back and watched the craziness during the holidays, I often wondered the percentage of people who truly understand what the holiday season was all about. There seemed to be some individuals who are either extremely depressed or overly stressed this time of year and some others are just hoping for a brighter future.
It reminds me of a story you may have heard about a young woman who was recently divorced and hoping for better things ahead. She stopped by the booth of a fortune teller. (That act in itself should tell you that she really had no idea where to turn!) As the fortune teller gazed into her crystal ball, a frown spread across her face.
“Tell me, tell me!” pleaded the young woman. “What is it you see?”
“The next ten years of your life will be filled with disappointment, unhappiness, and financial problems,” the teller proclaimed.
“Then what?” quizzed the stunned woman.
“You’ll grow accustomed to it!” replied the fortune teller.
Our expectations for the future have a dramatic impact on the life we will build for ourselves. As John Maxwell, a famous Christian author wrote, “If there is hope in the future, there is power in the present.” High expectations create a positive mindset that allows us to develop our potential and approach tasks with confidence.
In developing our expectations for the future, it is unwise to ignore the past. Valuable learning experiences can be culled from both our successes and failures. For those with a predominately positive past, use those positive memories as stepping stones for the future. For those with a predominately negative past, remember the future does not have to equal the past. Each day is a new day full of opportunities. Beginning today, you can start building a more positive, memorable past.
As we turn the page on another calendar year, let’s all look forward to a bright future. When reflecting on the past, it should serve to remind us our past is as valuable as our future. It has been said that, “He who expects nothing will not be disappointed.” Our future should be a time to which we look forward with high expectations, not fear or concern. Those who expect much find true happiness in the journey and the successes along the way.
Author Ardis Whitman once said, “When it comes to your future, look forward to the beauty of the next moment, the next hour, the promise of a good meal, sleep, a book, a movie, the likelihood that tonight the stars will shine and tomorrow the sun will shine.” Although she and others who have gone before her know what their futures hold, we still have the opportunity to change ours. When it comes to telling future for 2016 and beyond, you hold all the cards and only you can determine what your destiny will be. Expect a great future and work to make it happen!
No Santa Claus?Posted by Vicki Adams on 12/3/2015
Do you have your Christmas shopping done? What about food stocked up for family and friends over the holidays? Is the car ready for any traveling you may be doing? Are the presents wrapped? If like me, you started buying gifts last spring and now forgot where you hid them or even worse, what it was you bought, don’t stress – remember the reason for the season!
In the spirit of Christmas rather than share my own thoughts, I decided to relay an email that a very dear friend shared with me a few Christmases ago. It is a story that reminds us that the true meaning of Christmas is love and sharing with others. It is just too good to not share with all of you:
I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true. Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go." "Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's. I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.
I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all the kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas. That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby. Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95. May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care... And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!
May you all have a very blessed Christmas and a very rewarding new year!
Taking ResponsibilityPosted by Vicki Adams on 11/9/2015
Did you ever have one of those days when nothing seemed to go right? Did you feel that you simply got up on the wrong side of the bed? Or did you attempt to place the blame on someone else because things did not go the way you had hoped? Sometimes our own small errors in judgment are compounded and become larger problems, but who should take ownership for them?
We all have trials and tribulations and sometimes issues that we deal with on a daily basis are made worse by circumstances. For example, you are running late for work or school, so you coast through a stop sign or speed, and then get stopped by a police officer. Do you blame the officer or your family who made you late or maybe the weather? If you pause to think, it is not the officer’s fault that you were late. You need to take responsibility for your own actions and admit your mistake. We all make mistakes but one of the most important decisions we can make is to accept complete responsibility for everything we are and everything we do.
When you blame others for issues that go wrong or for things in your life that you are not happy about, you’re giving them the power to create or destroy your happiness. Accepting responsibility means that you refuse to criticize or blame others for any reason. As parents, this is an important lesson that we can teach and model for our children. We must first set the rules and boundaries for our children and when they stretch those boundaries or break the rules, they must have appropriate consequences while we still demonstrate our love for them. As educators, we can reinforce this lesson at school.
As adults, it is important to remember that children make mistakes. Even good kids make dumb mistakes every day. It is important that there are established rules and consequences so the long-term effects are not devastating. If children know that they can get away with the small stuff, they will never accept responsibility for their actions. This typically results in compounding problems at home, at school, or even with the legal authorities.
When you accept full responsibility for a situation, it means you have the power to create a solution. For example, “I am responsible for being late.” Or “I am responsible for this situation.” You can also take credit for great ideas and actions, “I am responsible for performing well on my job.” “I am responsible for improvement in playing the guitar.” For any part of your life that you are not happy with right now, say “I am responsible for…” and complete the sentence. Feel how empowering that can be! When you are the problem, you are also the solution. If you continue to blame everyone else, you are powerless. If you accept responsibility for your life and every aspect of it, even the parts you previously thought you had no control over, your life will get better. Taking charge of your life by accepting full responsibility for everything that happens to you is the key to high self-esteem, self-respect, and personal achievement. It may not pay for that ticket from the police officer, but taking personal responsibility is the main source of high performance and happiness for every person in every situation.
(Portions taken from Fred Helmink)
Success from Challenging our PotentialPosted by Vicki Adams on 8/21/2015
The 2015-2016 school year has begun and we are off to a great start. We have had several days of training for new staff, including quality time spent with their mentors. Last week was an intense 5 days with all staff returning. Campus open houses and student orientations were successful, a wide variety of staff development was held at each campus, and teacher/student schedules were finalized. Additionally, much productive collaboration was accomplished because student needs were the priority in those discussions. We are now ready and prepared to have an amazing year with our staff of super heroes. As I have seen demonstrated the last few weeks, staff has not just prepared for their own greatness, but have made plans to facilitate student greatness.
Jon Stigliano from Strategic Solutions Group writes that many of us dream of greatness but only a few of us take the first steps to developing a detailed plan to get there. Even fewer of us are willing to endure the difficult voyage that is usually involved. Our own perceptions lead to mediocrity. We may believe we can do anything we put our mind to, while at the same time there are subtle warnings that tell us not to set our goals too high so we don't experience disappointment and failure. To be safe we often settle for far less than giving our best. Instead we can accomplish real greatness if we pursue a goal of challenging our own personal potential. As educators and parents, we can help students to develop plans to be successful. Plans that can be broken down into steps demonstrate to students that lofty goals are possible, but it may not be immediately. When a step is failed, students must see failure is acceptable but quitting is not. Children need to be taught to continue to revise their blueprints until they can reach success.
For example, our English teachers guide students in making plans when a research project or paper has been assigned. They teach students the steps to complete and then guide them along the way so they may be successful. Students are taught how to research, how to decipher what is important and factual, then how to compile gathered information into a meaningful written project, how to list sites and documents that were utilized, etc. Some students fail at a few of the steps, but they are guided to continue rather than quit. Just to assign a student a project or assignment without guiding them how to break it down into smaller parts, would devastate a majority of students. We can learn to use these same processes of breaking down goals into smaller parts to reach our own potential.
We are all capable of doing significantly more than we think we are capable of doing, but that doesn't mean it will just happen by magic. If we are not willing to be flexible with our goals and how we can achieve them, make difficult choices, exchanges and sacrifices, take risky chances and persevere long enough to make our dreams come true, then they won't. This is competition against our own self at its best.
As parents and educators, we need to teach children to understand that sometimes things will not go as planned and we will fail once in a while. For those who find school is not challenging or for students who do not experience failure, they oftentimes struggle outside the environment of the school or while trying to obtain goals. We do our young people no favors by trying to make sure that life or school is all smooth sailing. Thinking we are building up their self-esteem by taking away all trials and difficulties paves the road for an unhappy adulthood. Not allowing children to be disappointed and not teaching them how to revise plans after failures, leads to the inability to break down goals into achievable parts. Living a successful lifestyle does not mean that our lives will be perfect, but that life is about constantly improving in all aspects. It's about fulfilling as much of our own personal potential as we can!
Challenge your own potential. Success is not as much about achievement as it is about how we got there and our own development! I will continue to pray the students and staff of Hillsboro ISD have the most amazing school year ever!
(portions taken from Jon Stigliano)