Improved scores on the STAAR test have led to a multimillion dollar federal grant being approved for the Premont Independent School District.
Premont students have been receiving all kinds of extra tutoring and help from the State and Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Now, the federal government is ensuring that the work will continue for at least another five years.
"There's a total of four grants. Two Upward Bound grants and twi Upward Bound Math and Science grants, and we actually added Raymondville and Premont to two of the grants," said Mary Gonzalez, associate vice president for student access at TAMUK. "So in essence we've expanded our scope of the schools we're serving in the area, so we're very excited about that. The total is over $5 million for five years."
Premont ISD has struggled to stay open for a number of years. The State threatened to close it down because the district continued to fail the STAAR test requirements. This year though, for the first time since 2009, secondary students passed the STAAR test but the elementary students did not fare so well.
"Actually they went backwards," Premont ISD Superintendent Steve Vanmatre said. "Last year they met standards. This year they didn't. There was a ton of circumstances that we could talk about for hours, but the bottom line is we didn't meet our goal; but we are this year. There's no question about it."
The district has geared everything to preparing kids for college. It renamed its elementary school the Premont Early College Academy, and the secondary school is now Premont Collegiate High School; and those new grants are aimed at helping students in Premont and five other districts that TAMUK is working to help.
"These four grants are going to benefit at the minimum 250 students, and these are intensive services so they'll be brought on campus," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added that the strategy worked at middle schools in Kingsville and Corpus Christi where students met State standards for the first time in seven years.