Transitions Conference

Michael McFarland
Lancaster ISD

Dr. Michael D. McFarland was named Superintendent of Lancaster ISD in May of 2010 and is entering his third year. He is an outstanding, energetic, dynamic leader with a proven track record of transforming educational organizations into high-performing institutions.

He is an innovative leader who is currently leading the successful transformation of Lancaster ISD. Currently, Lancaster ISD is the recipient of a multimillion dollar STEM grant - the largest financial contribution made to an educational institution by the Texas Instruments Foundation in support of the implementation of the first STEM for all district in the state of Texas. Lancaster ISD aspires to become the cynosure (center) for STEM for all education in the state of Texas and has designed a framework that will ensure exposure, equity and excellence for all students. LISD also was awarded the National Award of Distinction from the Teacher Advancement Program System for outstanding implementation of the TAP system and significant value added gains by all district TAP schools.

During his first two years at the helm, Lancaster students have shown outstanding academic growth and are on path to eliminate the achievement gap. Under McFarland's leadership, Lancaster ISD has received numerous awards for academic performance due to significant improvement in TAKS scores, College and Career Readiness rates, TAP Value Added Scores, and Gold Performance Acknowledgements from the Texas Education Agency. In addition, several campuses have received National Distinguish School Awards. Based on 2011 data, the District received 20 Gold Performance Acknowledgements from Texas Education Agency - the most in LISD history. As a testament to his district transformation initiative, all campuses received at least one Gold Performance Acknowledgement. Six of the seven elementary campuses received the Texas Education Agency Recognized rating - the most in school district history. During McFarland's first year of service, the District rating increased from unacceptable (without the Texas Projection Measurement) to one percentage away from Recognized Status (the state's second highest category).

At the completion of his second year of the implementation of the 'Excellence Agenda,' the exit level state assessment scores of students in LISD increased to 91% in English, 92% in Math, 93% in Science, and 99% in Social Studies proving that setting high expectations of all and expecting excellence every day is worth the effort. McFarland has remained committed to ensuring that when students leave LISD they will leave with more than a high school diploma. They are leaving with choices and opportunities. As a result of this commitment, and the implementation of the more than a diploma initiative, in each of the two graduating classes, more than 93% and 95% of the students have graduated with a high school diploma and a letter of acceptance to a college, university, vocational school or a branch of the armed forces. Furthermore, the class of 2012 received more than $3.2 million in scholarships and 90% of the 18 year olds were registered to vote and participated in the local spring elections as first-time voters due to the Stroll to the Polls initiative.

McFarland led this district transformation and has been able to produce outstanding academic and economic results during the most challenging financial time in school funding history. By instituting a conservative approach to budgeting, implementing a rational budget reduction process, and making sound financial decisions, LISD was able to increase the fund balance from $3 million in 2010 to $11.1 million according to the January 2012 audit. Currently LISD, has 21% of the budgeted expenses in fund balance.

McFarland came to Lancaster ISD from Champaign, Illinois where he served as Assistant Superintendent of Achievement for Champaign Unit 4 Public Schools. While serving in Champaign, McFarland led the development of a high school restructuring model that was adopted by the Illinois Board of Education as a model for transformation of low-performing secondary schools throughout the state. Dr. McFarland also was instrumental in the development and implementation of a collaborative multiagency partnership with the City of Champaign, Park District, and Unit 4 Schools called "Operation Hope in Garden Hills." This multiagency project included the "Lighted Schoolhouse" and was recognized nationally as a model approach for addressing school and community issues.

Prior to serving in Illinois, McFarland served as principal of John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas. When McFarland arrived at John Tyler, the school was low performing, academically unacceptable, and plagued with many challenges. Under McFarland's leadership, the school transformed into a high-performing high school that was recognized by the College Board with the 2006 National Inspiration Award. This award was only received by three schools in the nation and was given due to the increase in student performance and college and career readiness as measured by SAT and college acceptance. More than 92% of the students who graduated from John Tyler High under McFarland's leadership received letters of acceptance to a college, university, and/or the military. Before serving as John Tyler"s principal, McFarland was principal at Foster Middle School in Longview, Texas. During his tenure as principal at Foster Middle School, McFarland was selected as the "Best Principal in East Texas" by the Longview News Journal. McFarland is also professional developer and motivational speaker with the educational consulting firm E3, Empowering, Educational Excellence.

McFarland is an educator who is committed to creating opportunities for success by removing barriers, aligning systems, implementing programs, instituting best practices and building the capacity of people to ensure higher levels of learning for all students. In addition to McFarland's duties as superintendent of schools, he finds time for civic and community involvement. He is a member of numerous professional and civic organizations and coaches girls' basketball at the Lancaster Recreation Center.

McFarland is a native of Jasper, Texas and began his educational career in 1993 as an algebra teacher. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University, his Master of Education and superintendent's certificate from Stephen F. Austin University and his doctorate from Baylor University