In Ector County ISD, Student Success Follows Great School Leaders

The great author and leadership expert Simon Sinek said, “Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating.” Many times, we can be so focused on the outcome that we can forget the leadership and preparation it takes on the road to success. The same can be said of student success. While focusing on student achievement in the classroom is the goal, true leadership starts with first developing assistant principals, instructional coaches, and teachers. Putting their development first will lead to great student outcomes.

Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) is located in rural west Texas and serves the majority of Odessa. Widely known for mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, Ector County has a population of 166,000 with a median household income of a little more than $67,000. Ector County ISD’s student population is 79 percent Hispanic, 15 percent white, and 3 percent Black; 65 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. Considering these demographics, there is a real need to focus on economic and social mobility.

TNTP has partnered with ECISD since 2019–right about the time Dr. Scott Muri joined the district as superintendent. Since then, ECISD has demonstrated that holding the line on good teaching and leadership is a priority. In fact, in 2022, ECISD’s overall state testing accountability score was 82, or a letter grade of B. Superintendent Muri thinks innovatively as the district teacher vacancy rate dropped from 18 percent to 1 percent during one of the most unprecedented times any school district has seen before.

ECISD’s innovative and transformative leadership has not gone unnoticed. Not only was Dr. Muri recognized as the Region 18 Superintendent of the Year in 2022, but he was also selected as a finalist for the Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards that same year.

His blend of coaching, backed by TNTP’s research-based professional development and district leadership, are the right ingredients to increase student achievement and retain quality teachers and leaders.

Currently, we are providing the district with professional development for their assistant principals and instructional specialists. Through this training, more than 50 assistant principals and approximately 130 instructional specialists learn about data-driven instruction, campus culture, time management, and finding the root causes of issues within academic achievement.  From lessons on rigorous instruction, authentic leadership, vision, and systems, to strategic talent management, coaching and goal setting, this coaching of assistant principals and instructional specialists will have an impact on teachers, the campus community, and students.  This training support allows for data-driven decision making, root cause analysis, and leadership development, which ultimately has a positive outcome on student academic achievement.

Once the professional development is delivered, we follow up and reinforce the strategies taught during instructional rounds by walking campuses. This practice allows TNTP to witness the professional development in action while also creating more touch points with leaders to deliver coaching in the moment.

 As our partnership with ECISD goes forward, it excites me to know that we are partnered with an innovative and transformative school district where we can combine efforts that influence student outcomes. We can consistently brainstorm out-of-the-box thinking while keeping our commitment of increasing access to academic possibilities for all students.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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