Manor Independent School District, TX - 2013 Transformation Award Winner

Mary Kate Appel

Transformation Award: For dramatically decreasing the drop-out rate in a 100% at-risk student body.

What if there was a school system that could work with the most challenging students and prepare them academically, emotionally and socially for life after high school? The implications are huge. 

Manor Independent School District (ISD) decided to tackle this challenge because they understood that with a 100 percent at-risk student body, not graduating meant a life of poverty or prison for students. The district wanted to find a way to serve its at-risk student body, consisting of teen parents and students with truancy, drug and gang violence issues, at their discipline alternative and alternative education campuses. Through the Manor Excel Academy, a self-paced, technology-driven instructional program designed to accelerate completion of the coursework requirements for graduation, the district created individual education plans for each student using the blended learning model. 

Staffed with passionate educators, the district used FuelEd’s prescriptive learning and remediation program, the Anywhere Learning System, and an aggressive approach that sets high behavior and achievement requirements to participate. The Manor Excel Academy has seen outstanding results: the dropout rate decreased from 19.5 percent to 7.5 percent in one year; there were more Academy graduates in two years than the previous 10 years combined; and the district established a partnership with nearby Austin Community College, which elected to grant each graduate an acceptance letter. 

Because of their transformative results, Manor has created more than 32 new school partnerships. These partnerships are with community businesses and major brands that share the district’s vision to educate, motivate and encourage its at-risk student body. For example, when Manor Excel Academy wanted to host a prom for its students, both a local business and national chain donated dresses, gowns and tuxedoes. An international electronics company donated $17,000 worth of school supplies, and the local sheriff and constable department volunteered to provide free security for evening programs.

This partnership program has led Manor to be recognized at the College Board Conference and National Council on Educating Black Children Conference. At both of these events, the district has discussed its success using online and blended learning, going from no parent involvement to parent involvement and garnering community support for the Academy.

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