Earlier this year, then-Principal Eduardo Torres said it would take a “miracle” for Woodrow Wilson High School to score well enough on the Texas Education Association’s TAAS test to be removed from the state’s “low-performing” list.

The “miracle” was announced last month, when Woodrow’s test scores improved significantly, thanks in large part to an extraordinary effort by parents, students, teachers and administrators.

“It’s a bad thing to end up on the low-performing list,” says new Principal Nancy McLaughlin, who was Woodrow’s assistant principal last year.

“But it was a wake-up call and a rally cry for us.”

In a significant turnaround from the prior year, Woodrow’s 1996-97 tenth-grade class scored 23 percent higher on the reading section, 17 percent higher on the writing section and 18 percent higher on the math section than the prior year’s tenth grade class. (Tenth-grade classes are the testing benchmark for the TAAS test, a standardized test administered to students statewide to measure basic skills.)

“The improvement verifies a total
commitment,” says neighborhood school board trustee Roxan Staff.

“We had parents, faculty, students and administrators focusing on a problem and they solved it.”

At the beginning of the 1996-97 school year, Woodrow developed a detailed plan to improve TAAS test scores, McLaughlin says. Students were pretested at the outset of the school year, and individual profiles were created identifying strengths and weaknesses.

An extra math class was added to the schedule of students who needed help in math; likewise for students who needed help in reading and writing.

Even teachers in classes such as history and science fused their subject matter with practical TAAS taking skills.

At mid-year, the school administered another assessment test one month prior to the TAAS test.

“We saw tremendous gains at that point,” McLaughlin says. “We didn’t want any surprises, and we wanted to have a feel for what the students could do.”

An overall euphoria has encompassed the school since the results became official. But McLaughlin knows the battle is far from over as a new crop of tenth graders prepares to take the test later this year.

“We’re very upbeat and excited,” McLaughlin says. “It built self-confidence for our students and our teachers.”

“But I don’t ever want us to get too comfortable.”

News & Notes


Southern Methodist University: Thirty neighborhood residents were among 1,500 SMU students who received diplomas at the school’s recent commencement. Recent graduates include Judith Esther Allen (BBA, accounting), Robert W. Baker Jr. (MBA, general business), Julie Ann Broberg (MFA, studio art), Darrell Shea Byers (BBA, organizational behavior and business policy), Yvette Ann Carson (MLA, liberal arts), Christopher James Curtis (J.D., law), Kathryn Pinson Davison (Ph.D., philosophy), Adrian Edward “Buddy” Doxey Jr. (J.D., law), James Garth Fennegan (J.D., law), Cynthia Anne Franco (BA, communication arts), Stewart Cameron Graber (Masters of Law, taxation), Amy Susan Hagar (MBA, general business), Enid Sara Haik (finance, organizational behavior, business policy), Gregory Jackson Haley (BA, communication arts), Lisa O. Day Hensley (BBA, accounting), Celina J. Jimenez (BA, journalism), Nancy Jo Lloyd (MLA, liberal arts), Ashley Renee Lowry (MA, psychology), Robert William Mainini II (BS, mechanical engineering), Adrian John Marengo Rowe (J.D., law), Erika Leigh Ann Matson (MBA, general business), Christopher Morse McCahan (MBA, general business), Ron Randall McCauley (MBA, general business), Kelly Michael Melin (MS, software engineering), Donna L, Nicoll (MLA, liberal arts), James Byron Parks III (BBA, marketing), Scott Ashley Redick (MBA, general business), Michelle Lee Stackhouse (BA, communication arts), Suzanne Paige Steele (MBA, general business), and Denise Renee Thompson (BA, English).

Texas A&M University at Commerce: Neighborhood residents Kimberly Ann Cahill, Rachelle Dyer, Pamela Kay Colbert, Sabrina Lea Crawford, Medora L. Davison, Summer Michelle May, Karen E. Melick, Michelle Elizabeth Rich, Gei Ann McKenzie and Carol Ann Newman received degrees at the recent Texas A&M University-Commerce commencement.


Senior InfoFest: Eastfield College presents Senior InfoFest Aug. 16 from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Eastfield College, 3737 Motley in Mesquite. There will be workshops and exhibits covering a variety of educational and leisure subjects. Dr. Lynn Weiss, noted teacher and lecturer and radio/television personality, will be the keynote speaker. For information, call Jane Allen at 972-860-7636.

Lakewood Early Childhood PTA New Member Parties: The Lakewood Early Childhood PTA will be holding two new member parties for anyone interested in membership. Party dates are August 26 and September 11. Membership dues are $15 annually. For information, call Debbie Wipff at 214-321-8617 or Debbie Wright at 214-327-5454.

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