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Burns: Abilene ISD thrives despite challenges with the state

By Kristen Pope, Reporter, kpope@ktxs.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:36:45 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 23 2013 03:38:39 PM CST
Abilene Independent School District

ABILENE, TX -

Abilene ISD Superintendent Heath Burns laid out where the district is and where he wants AISD to be.

"I want that to be the identity of Abilene ISD, the school system that's best at serving the students that have least," said Burns.

Dr. Burns said diversity is their greatest asset. The district uniquely mirrors what the state of Texas looks like in population, but not in test scores.

"Abilene ISD is out pacing the state significantly in working with disadvantaged youth, minority youth and at risk youth," said Burns.

He also addressed the infamous testing system.

"There is a revolution going on in the state of Texas about standardized testing," said Burns. "It's probably unlike anything I've ever seen before in 13 or 14 years of being a school superintendent."

However, Burns said the current accountability system, based on testing, although broken still has purpose.

"Without accountability minority and impoverished students got passed by not only in Abilene ISD, but in every school system in the state of Texas," said Burns.

Lastly, he touched on the population of refugees from Africa attending Abilene Schools, being held to an almost impossible standard.

"They are tested within one year of arrival to the system," said Burns. "It's one of the tweaks that need to occur in the system that's just broken.."

Abilene ISD is one of hundreds of school districts who have joined a lawsuit against the state of Texas and it's funding for schools. Burns said the district has lost more than eight million in state funding over the last two years.