EDINBURG, RGV – Region One Education Service Center recently announced that its schools are among the highest performing in the state.

At the group’s annual public hearing – in which the Texas Education Agency’s state accountability report is presented – Dr. Eduardo Cancino, deputy director for instructional support services, went over all the areas in which Region One campuses excelled.

Cornelio Gonzalez

Student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and post-secondary readiness are the four indices that make up TEA’s accountability rating. Of the 43 school districts, from Brownsville to Laredo, that comprise Region One, 41 (95 percent) met these academic standards. Breaking it down by the total number of campuses, the figure jumps to 99 percent meeting the standards – the highest of all 20 regions in the state. Region One schools also surpassed the state averages for all four indices.

Beyond meeting their standards, TEA also recognizes campuses for outstanding performance in different areas. Elementary schools can be awarded Academic Achievement Distinction Designations (AADD) in six categories, while secondary schools can earn distinctions in seven. In Region One, 76 percent of campuses had one of more distinctions – the highest percentage in the state. Since the Postsecondary Readiness Distinction was implemented four years ago, five school districts in the state have earned it every year. Three of those districts – Los Fresnos CISD, Sharyland ISD and South Texas ISD – are from Region One. South Texas ISD also had every one of its campuses earn all seven AADDs.

Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez, Region One’s executive director, said that the community should be proud of their schools despite any negative preconceptions.

“All our schools are doing great. All of them are doing amazing, and we just wish our community members would be very supportive of our districts. They should be very proud of them because they’re doing great things,” said Gonzalez.

Region One Public Information Officer Annette S. Garcia also noted the region’s success in light of socioeconomic hurdles many students face.

“If you look at the demographics of the region that we serve – the percentage of economically disadvantaged, our immigrant students, our ESL students, our limited-English proficient students, students who maybe come to school and their parents have limited education themselves – that is adversity for our kids,” said Garcia. “Is it something that we make excuses for? Definitely not.”

Gonzalez and Garcia did not forget to acknowledge the hard work of their educators. Gonzalez says that Regions One has the biggest “innovators” and leads the way when it comes to education initiatives, many of which end up being implemented across the state.

“We have a lot of people from other parts of the state – nation – who come to our schools … to find out what is the magic formula, what is it that you’re doing here to find success in these kids,” said Garcia. “And, to them it’s very surprising – their success – and, it’s not surprising to us at all. It’s an expectation.”

The report can be found at www.esc1.net

Editor’s Note: The above story is the first in a series on public education in the Rio Grande Valley by Rio Grande Guardian education reporter Patricia Martinez.