HOUSTON – Jan. 29, 2019 – Commissioner of Education Mike Morath today announced that Spring Independent School District is one of only 15 education organizations selected to launch the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Math Innovation Zones. Organizations selected include school districts, open-enrollment charter schools and one Education Service Center.
Scheduled to launch during the 2019-20 school year, these Math Innovation Zones (MIZ) will focus on the implementation of high-quality blended learning programs in math at targeted schools in the district.
“The TEA MIZ grant gives us the opportunity to pilot a blended learning model in math with instructional resources and expertise from the TEA and their approved outside consultants,” said Khechara Bradford, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessments.
Bradford, who will supervise the implementation of the grant, said the district has already initiated the planning phase of this important project, thanks to the support of Spring ISD Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Cobb. Plans for next school year include piloting the program at Wells Middle School and its feeder elementary schools — Beneke, Ponderosa and Reynolds. Eventually, the district plans to implement MIZ at all elementary and middle school campuses.
“We are utilizing the Math Innovation Zones grant to create a model for blended learning that we can scale across the district,” Bradford said. “We appreciate that the funding includes time to carefully plan a responsible rollout that includes systems to support digital learning, professional development and adjustments in curriculum to support this initiative. By piloting this project at four schools, we are building our capacity while designing a blueprint that can easily expand. We are future focused and ready to provide innovative learning opportunities for our Spring ISD students.”
According to a TEA news release, blended learning is an innovative instructional model that combines face-to-face instruction with online learning and, when implemented effectively, has led to strong academic gains in Texas schools. MIZ supports school districts and open-enrollment charter schools in a quality implementation of this model by establishing a network of proven service providers, building a district-friendly roadmap for strategic program design and implementation and granting funds to committed districts for planning and execution of the program.
“With blended learning, teachers can diagnose prior student knowledge, create differentiated academic plans for each student and adjust those plans in real-time based on instant feedback,” said Commissioner Morath. “By implementing this approach through a kindergarten through eighth-grade feeder pattern, our teachers are able to better prepare our students for Algebra I readiness in the eighth grade.”
In addition to Spring ISD, the 2019-20 selected school systems include: Atlanta Independent School District; Brooks Academies of Texas (San Antonio); Clarendon Consolidated Independent School District and Education Service Center Region 16 (Amarillo); Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District; El Paso Independent School District; Inspired Vision Academy (Dallas); Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District; Laredo Independent School District (Cigarroa Middle School Feeder Pattern); Magnolia Independent School District; Marshall Independent School District; Sinton Independent School District; Temple Independent School District; UT Tyler University Academy; and Winters Independent School District.
The 2019-20 MIZ cohort joins 14 districts and charters that began implementing MIZ program during the 2018-2019 school year: Dallas Independent School District; KIPP Houston; Mineola Independent School District; Spring Branch Independent School District; Tulia Independent School District; Austin Achieve (Austin); Cisco Independent School District; Grand Prairie Independent School District; Laredo Independent School District (Memorial Middle School Feeder Pattern); NYOS Charter School (Austin); Point Isabel Independent School District; Pioneer Technology Arts Academy (Greenville); Southside Independent School District (San Antonio); and Uplift Education (Fort Worth).
To learn more about the implementation of MIZ, listen to the TEA Time podcast episode about the program on the TEA website.
For more information on MIZ, visit the Texas Education Agency webpage at tea.texas.gov/Academics/Learning_Support_and_Programs/Math_Innovation_Zones/