As our IDEA Team & Family prepares for a two-week winter break, we are reflecting on another tremendous year. Heading into our 20th year, we are feeling particularly nostalgic about how far we’ve come. What started as an after-school program in Donna, TX two decades ago has grown into one of the highest achieving public charter school networks in the country with 96 campuses across Texas and Louisiana.
In keeping with an IDEA tradition, here is a recap of 2019 with the top 19 highlights of the year!
- IDEA opened 17 new schools in August, including launching the Tarrant County region with IDEA Achieve and IDEA Rise;
- IDEA Quest College Preparatory was designated an “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing” National Blue Ribbon School for 2019. This campus is one of 362 schools in the nation and one of only twenty-seven schools in Texas to be recognized in 2019;
- Based on the recent school finance reform law passed during the 2019 Texas legislative session, all IDEA teachers in Texas received a $2,000 – $5,000 pay increase, effective this school year, and other critical staff groups including co-teachers, counselors, bus drivers, and custodians received pay raises as well;
- IDEA earned a B (89) on the TEA School and District A-F Accountability Ratings. Numerically, we earned an A (92) and as a district we had 29 schools earn an A;
- IDEA Innovation ranked second for “Top Growth in the Greater Baton Rouge area” and sixth statewide based on their LEAP tests results;
- Nineteen of IDEA’s campuses were graded an “A” by Children at Risk, a Houston-based nonprofit. We were ranked based on student achievement on standardized tests, growth year-to-year, and how well schools support students;
- Thanks to our #HealthyKidsHere program, seven of our schools were named America’s Healthiest Schools by Healthier Generations;
- IDEA was awarded the highest multi-year grant in the history of the federal Charter Schools Program by the U.S. Department of Education;
- An astounding 15 members of the Class of 2019 became Dell Scholars, including eight scholars from IDEA Weslaco and IDEA Montopolis;
- IDEA became one of six school districts in Texas to be honored as a Texas Honor Roll School due to high performance;
- IDEA announced new regions to open in Cincinnati, Tampa, and Jacksonville, with schools opening their doors as early as 2021.
- IDEA broke ground on 11 new campuses opening in fall 2020, including our first two in Houston.
- IDEA entered a partnership with Midland ISD to open IDEA Travis Academy and College Prep in August of 2020.
- This spring, thirteen members of IDEA Mission’s RISE program became state soccer champions including Kenia Melo, Lazaro Solis, Eduardo Pena, Elíseo Fortuna, Samantha Vasquez, Ezequiel Olivarez, Alexandro Ortiz, Abelino Villarreal, Kenneth Hernandez, Mark Salinas, Ramon Verdin, Elizabeth Olivarez, and Vanderlei Herrera.
- IDEA hosted its 2nd Annual District Spelling Bee in Weslaco, Texas. IDEA’s Spelling Bee Champion, Amerie Varela, is a 7th grader at IDEA Weslaco Pike, and the winning word was “amnesia”.
- IDEA welcomed 14,795 new students to the IDEA network of 96 schools.
- IDEA became the first charter school network in history to earn an ‘A’ rating by rating agency S&P.
- IDEA College Prep McAllen Principal Joan Alvarez awarded the prestigious Ryan Award for his work closing the achievement gap.
- IDEA welcomed four new cohorts of seniors at IDEA Carver, IDEA Montopolis, IDEA McAllen, and IDEA Brownsville, and for the 13th year in a row, 100 percent of our graduating seniors matriculated to college this fall!
None of these accomplishments would be possible without the partnership of staff, faculty, families and our amazing scholars. We can’t wait to see what 2020 brings, and we look forward to celebrating 20 years of success on March 3 at IDEA’s Headquarters in the Rio Grande Valley.