Ysleta Independent School District officials announced Tuesday that the district was among only 15 in the nation to win a 2021 Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that recognizes districts across the country for programs that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students.
“Here at the Ysleta Independent School District, more than a quarter of students come to our schools without knowing how to speak English – but we refuse to be defined by our demographics,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Xavier De La Torre said.
“It gives me great pride to see our hardworking staff, teachers, and students receive this much-deserved recognition in spite of the extraordinary challenges we’ve confronted during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ysleta ISD was one of 12 first-place Magna Award winners for its Academic Language Programs in the category of school districts with enrollments of more than 20,000 students. Three other grand-prize winners were also named as Magna Award recipients.
The awards are sponsored by NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), and winners are selected by an independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators.
“2020 was a year like no other,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez. “The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students.”
According to ASBJ, Ysleta ISD’s Academic Languages Program goes “far and above the state bilingual instruction requirements for ELs. It has resulted in gains in English proficiency, cultural awareness, and the development of true bilingualism and biliteracy.”
The program exhibits two critical characteristics of successful programs: consistency and sustainability. The dual-language component traces its roots back to the early 1990s, with the development of the dual-language program and the subsequent opening of the district’s first dual-language school. It has since transitioned into a program where academic language and content area knowledge and skills are developed simultaneously, ASBJ reported.
Students have achieved high levels of success on several data sources that show growth in both academic and language acquisition that exceeds state averages.
According to ASBJ, performance on state assessment programs for content area knowledge and skills (STAAR) and social and academic language acquisition (TELPAS) support this claim. Recent results show that Ysleta ELs had higher passing rates (70 percent) in all tested content areas in all grade levels than all Texas English-learners (63 percent).
All Magna Awards winners, including Ysleta ISD, are highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ.
NSBA, a federation of state associations and the U.S. territory of the Virgin Islands, represents locally elected school board officials who serve approximately 51 million public school students.
NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. For more information, visit their website.