Executive Summary. Liberal Arts and Science Academy

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1 Austin Independent School District Ms. Stacia Creszenci, Principal 7309 Lazy Creek Drive Suite 225 Austin, TX Document Generated On December 20, 2014

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 Description of the School 2 School's Purpose 3 Notable Achievements and Areas of Improvement 4 Additional Information 6

3 Introduction Every school has its own story to tell. The context in which teaching and learning takes place influences the processes and procedures by which the school makes decisions around curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The context also impacts the way a school stays faithful to its vision. Many factors contribute to the overall narrative such as an identification of stakeholders, a description of stakeholder engagement, the trends and issues affecting the school, and the kinds of programs and services that a school implements to support student learning. The purpose of the Executive Summary (ES) is to provide a school with an opportunity to describe in narrative form the strengths and challenges it encounters. By doing so, the public and members of the school community will have a more complete picture of how the school perceives itself and the process of self-reflection for continuous improvement. This summary is structured for the school to reflect on how it provides teaching and learning on a day to day basis. Page 1

4 Description of the School Describe the school's size, community/communities, location, and changes it has experienced in the last three years. Include demographic information about the students, staff, and community at large. What unique features and challenges are associated with the community/communities the school serves? The (LASA) of the Austin Independent School District (AISD) became its own high school in 2007, but the origins of LASA have a much longer history. The LBJ Science Academy, Austin's first magnet program, was created in The Liberal Arts Academy at Johnston High School opened in The two programs were merged in 2002 and became the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), housed on the Lyndon Baines Johnson High School campus. In 2007, the school board voted to make LASA its own high school. The two high schools, LASA and LBJ, are housed on the same campus and still share fine arts and athletics classes. They compete in UIL events as one school. LASA High School is a four-year comprehensive, public, urban, advanced academic magnet high school of approximately 1000 students. The program recruits the most academically advanced and gifted students from public and private middle schools in Austin; as such, admission to LASA is competitive, based on test scores, grades and teacher recommendations. The curricular expectations for LASA students exceed those of a traditional curricular program. The curriculum for every course is written to go above and beyond state and district standards; LASA courses move at a quicker pace, cover more material, are project-based, and rely heavily on discussion and seminar style delivery of course information or the use, interpretation, and delivery of research. Austin is a vibrant community with tremendous resources. The University of Texas at Austin is one of the nation's largest research universities, and several other institutions of higher learning are located in the Austin area. Austin is recognized as one of the nation's intellectual capitals and as a draw to creative people of all types. Known as the "Silicon Hills," Austin has become one of the nation's prominent high-tech centers. Austin is now one of the top wireless cities. Austin has also become one of the top locations in the nation for filmmaking. Austin is consistently ranked highly in many national "best places" lists, including best places to live and work, best places for business, best places to raise a family, and best places to retire. Austin continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the state and in the nation. In 2012, the population of the City of Austin was estimated at 842,595 and the population of the Austin metro area was estimated at 1,834,303. In alignment with the expansion of the city, the LASA student population has grown significantly in number over the last five years. This growth presents challenges for the LASA and the number of qualified students who have not been accepted has increased. The AISD team is working to provide a plan to address the growth of the population of students who are interested in academic magnet schools. Page 2

5 School's Purpose Provide the school's purpose statement and ancillary content such as mission, vision, values, and/or beliefs. Describe how the school embodies its purpose through its program offerings and expectations for students. Mission: The mission of is to cultivate responsible leaders, problem solvers, and thinkers by offering a nationally recognized, rigorous, innovative, evolving curriculum. The school stands at the forefront of the nationwide effort to produce graduates with exceptional knowledge and skills in English, other languages, mathematics, science, social studies and technology. An outstanding high school education at the of Austin (LASA) prepares students for higher education and at the same time encourages them to make a significant contribution to community, state and nation. Vision: The will provide rigor; the curriculum for every course -- Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Art-- is written to go above and beyond state and district standards. Operating as a community of learners, students will take courses with teachers who are experts in their field and attend classes with students who enjoy the challenge provided by those teachers. Valuing inquiry-based approaches to learning, many of our courses rely heavily on discussion and seminar style delivery of the course information. Other courses rely heavily on the use, interpretation, and delivery of research. Teachers, students, and parents recognize that these four years are extremely important. Discussions of college selection, admissions, scholarships, letters of recommendation, and financial aid enter into conversations in the classroom beginning the freshman year. The LASA Magnet Endorsement, an additional recognition that all LASA students work towards, recognizes students' commitments to the level of rigor that is resolute in the LASA mission and vision. The program requires LASA students to take a group of signature courses, one of the cornerstones of LASA. In these innovative courses, student groups research, design, implement and present projects in the sciences and humanities. LASA freshmen take Electronic Magazine and Science and Technology; sophomores take Planet Earth and Great Ideas. In alignment with the program's stated focus on problem-solving and leadership, these courses require students to use their academic skills to address real-world problems in collaboration with their peers. In addition to these requirements, LASA students exceed the requirements for the highest graduation plan in the State of Texas taking a more rigorous sequence of Language Arts and Social Studies courses along with an additional year of mathematics, science, and a Language Other than English. All of these components of the academic program help to provide the level of rigor and innovation that is indicated in the school's mission and vision. In order to continue to offer the academic experience that the mission and vision dictate, the LASA course offerings and course catalog are routinely examined. Teachers have the opportunity to regularly create innovative, engaging courses. School and community resources have been leveraged to provide teachers with the items they need to continue to develop new, rigorous options for students. As a result, LASA students are able to choose from a wide array of academic elective options in math, science, Language Arts, Social Studies, World Languages, Fine Arts, and Career and Technical Education. Page 3

6 Notable Achievements and Areas of Improvement Describe the school's notable achievements and areas of improvement in the last three years. Additionally, describe areas for improvement that the school is striving to achieve in the next three years. LASA has made several noteworthy accomplishments in the last five years. From 2008 through 2013, LASA established an impeccable track record of academic excellence, receiving an exemplary accountability rating from the State of Texas each of the six years. In 2014, the Texas Education Agency released new ratings and LASA received the highest of three possible ratings, Met Standard. This was accompanied by all of the possible seven distinctions. In 2014, Newsweek ranked LASA number 8 on its list of America's Best High Schools, the highest ranking for a Texas school. Academic achievement is evident in College Board programs. The number of Advanced Placement exams administered to LASA students has steadily increased from 2011 to 2014 while about 90 percent of the students continue to receive scores of 3 or above. This AP exam performance results in a potential of over 19,000 credit hours earned for students at a flagship state university. Additionally, in the last four years, 233 LASA students have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the National Achievement Scholarship Program, and the National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program due to their performances on the PSAT. The participation and success of LASA students outside of their academic classes is another cause for celebration. Students currently participate in over 60 clubs and organizations and excel in endeavors outside of the classroom setting. There were a number of extracurricular successes in the last few years. The LASA Quiz Bowl Team won the National Quiz Bowl tournament. A team of LASA students won an international German film competition in 2014 and earned a trip to Germany. A number of students were recognized for success in Fine Arts and Athletics. A student's film won the Texas High School Shorts Competition at the South by Southwest Film Festival. A student was a member of the 2012 U.S. National Physics Team. A number of LASA students have participated in the Intel International Science Fair. The staff development program presents another area of success. For the last few years, LASA teachers have submitted professional development goals at the end of the school year. These goals have been used to formulate plans for staff development. The teacher staff development surveys have since shown an improved perception of the staff development program, citing the varied types of staff development that address specific teacher and department needs while also addressing campus-wide goals and needs of teachers who work with gifted students. An increasing number of LASA students face serious emotional issues. The LASA counseling team has grown with the addition of another wellness counselor in an effort to increase our ability to address the mental health needs of our students. We are working to increase preventative programming, both large scale and small-group, and decrease the number of students who reach crisis level. In order to meet this goal, we will determine the greatest campus needs as expressed by all school community stakeholders and develop programs to address those needs. The counseling team has made some progress in this area in 2014 by developing and administering a wellness survey to both students and parents. The counseling and wellness programs represent an area of success and an area of continued need for growth. While LASA has celebrated a host of successes in the past few years, there are a number of other opportunities for growth. We would like to recruit and retain students from all Austin area public, charter and private middle schools. While LASA students represent every high school attendance zone in AISD, we would like to increase the number of students who apply and attend from the non-magnet middle schools in AISD. The goal is for half of the top 10 percent of students from all AISD middle schools to apply to LASA. During our recruitment season, we visit all of the AISD middle schools. Application workshops will be hosted at a select few of the campuses that we are targeting. In addition to working to better recruit all students who are likely to succeed at LASA, we would like to increase the overall academic success of those coming from non-magnet middle schools. We added a Freshman Seminar elective to provide our provisionally admitted students with some of the academic skills that they will need to be successful. We staffed a math teacher after school to assist students who need Page 4

7 mathematics intervention, along with an after-school library monitor to provide space for those who need extra help or a quiet place to work after school. We hope to continue to improve in this area in an effort to decrease some achievement gaps that are visible in examination of grade point averages and Advanced Placement exam scores. We are steadily working to increase the non-classroom, Gifted and Talented appropriate opportunities to challenge and engage our students. The number of clubs has continued to increase, with about 50 clubs operating annually, and the list of offerings is increasingly diverse. The LASA guest speaker series also serves as a way to offer learning opportunities that are appropriate for our student population. A number of LASA students have valuable summer volunteer, internship, work, and research experiences but we are working to increase the number of students who access these programs. Creating a database of opportunities that students are already taking advantage of and establishing industry relationships in the Austin area to increase the availability of these opportunities both during the school year and during the summer are the next steps that we plan to take. Our final area of opportunity lies in gauging our effectiveness in preparing our students for post-secondary success. Our ultimate goal is for LASA graduates to be equipped to succeed in the college and career paths that they choose. The LASA counseling team provides exemplary academic advising and assists students in the transition to college. Ninety-five percent of students attend four year colleges upon graduation from LASA. Nonetheless, we currently do not have data to determine if our students are equipped to succeed in their chosen majors and career paths. Our plan is to develop appropriate surveys that will be administered to alumni and to maintain alumni relationships. Page 5

8 Additional Information Provide any additional information you would like to share with the public and community that were not prompted in the previous sections. The LASA student body is 21 % Hispanic, 17 % Asian, 2 % Black, 55 % White, and 4 % Two or More Races. The Austin Independent School District student population is 60 % Hispanic, 25 % White, 3 % Asian, and 9 % Black. The growth of the city also presents further challenges in serving an ethnically and economically diverse student population. The campus group currently does not reflect the district demographically. Students with more cultural capital have some advantages in advanced academic settings. We are working to ensure that these advantages do not exclude otherwise ideal applicants during the application process. Page 6

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