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South Texas Independent School District

South Texas Independent School District (STISD) is a magnet school district headquartered in Mercedes, Texas (USA).[2] STISD operates magnet schools that draw students from three counties: Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy. STISD covers an area of 3,643 square miles (9,440 km2), overlapping 28 other school districts.

South Texas Independent School District
100 Med High Drive
Mercedes, Texas 78570

ESC Region 1

United States
District information
TypePublic School District
MottoAlways Innovating
Established1964 (1964)
PresidentDoug Buchanan, Board of Directors President
SuperintendentMarco Antonio Lara, Jr., Ed.D.
NCES District ID4837150[1]
Students and staff
Students3,394 (as of 2014-15)
Other information
WebsiteSouth Texas Independent School District

The only all-magnet school district in the state, STISD offers students an educational alternative. STISD schools provide hands-on training in various professional career fields.

Because it is a magnet school district, there is no cost for students to attend, and school bus transportation is also free of charge. STISD schools maintain an open enrollment policy, meaning any student can attend so long as he or she resides within the tri-county area.

All schools are accredited by the Texas Education Agency and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Over 95 percent of STISD graduates continue their education at major universities or technical colleges.


The district was created in 1964 by the Texas legislature to provide education to disabled youth who were then excluded from public education. It was known as Rio Grande Rehabilitation District until 1973 and renamed South Texas Independent School District (STISD) in 1974.

STISD started as a residential school in Edinburg, named South Texas High School. To better accommodate the students of the lower Rio Grande Valley, STISD opened another school by the same name in Harlingen in 1967. In 1982, STISD moved the Harlingen school to a new campus in San Benito.

Lawmakers extended STISD’s purpose in 1983 to encourage the operation of vocational magnet schools. Soon after, South Texas High School for Health Professions (Med High) opened in Mercedes in 1984. It was followed by The Science Academy of South Texas (Sci Tech), also in Mercedes, in 1989.

In 1993, South Texas High School in Edinburg was redirected and reopened as The Teacher Academy of South Texas (Teacher Academy).

In 2003, Teacher Academy added business and technology programs and the school was renamed South Texas Business, Education & Technology Academy (BETA). That same year, South Texas High School in San Benito was redirected and reopened as South Texas Academy of Medical Technology (Med Tech).

In 2008, the junior high from BETA separated and opened as South Texas Preparatory Academy (STPA).

In 2012, South Texas Academy of Medical Technology (Med Tech) was renamed South Texas Academy for Medical Professions (Medical Academy).

In 2015, a second junior high school was opened as Rising Scholars Academy of South Texas (Rising Scholars) on the San Benito campus. That same year, Medical Academy was moved to a new campus in Brownsville.

In 2019, BETA increased its focus on its International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and was renamed South Texas ISD World Scholars (World Scholars).

Though the district’s mission has evolved since 1964, STISD continues to provide educational and occupational training to students with special needs through the Half-Day Career & Technology Program offered at STISD high schools.

Student bodyEdit

For the 2014-2015 school year, the district reported a total enrollment of 3,394.[3]

CATE Half-Day ProgramsEdit

The Half-Day Career & Technology Program began in August 1996. Through the program, students with special needs can take the majority of their academic classes at their home high schools and take career and technology classes at STISD high schools. The purpose of the Half-Day Career & Technology Program is to teach students in a real work environment so they gain a marketable edge in the workforce.

The following high schools offer the following programs:[4]

  • Med High: Nursing Assistant
  • Medical Academy: Culinary Arts, Patient Care Assistant
  • Sci Tech: Automotive Technology, Welding

Academic achievementEdit

Until 2012 a school district in Texas could receive one of four possible rankings from the Texas Education Agency: Exemplary (the highest possible ranking), Recognized, Academically Acceptable, and Academically Unacceptable (the lowest possible ranking).

Until 2017 a school district in Texas could receive one of three possible rankings from the Texas Education Agency: Met Standard (the highest possible ranking), Met Alternative Standard, and Improvement Required (the lowest possible ranking).

In 2018 the Texas Education Agency released a new accountability scale. A school district in Texas can receive one of five possible ratings from the Texas Education Agency: A (90-100) (the highest possible ranking), B (80-89), C (70-79), D (60-69), and F (0-59) (the lowest possible ranking).

Historical district TEA accountability ratings[5]

  • 2019: A (97)
  • 2018: A (97)
  • 2017: Met Standard
  • 2016: Met Standard
  • 2015: Met Standard
  • 2014: Met Standard
  • 2013: Met Standard
  • 2012: No state accountability ratings were assigned in 2012.
  • 2011: Exemplary
  • 2010: Exemplary
  • 2009: Exemplary
  • 2008: Recognized
  • 2007: Recognized
  • 2006: Recognized
  • 2005: Recognized
  • 2004: Recognized

STISD Education FoundationEdit

The purpose of the STISD Education Foundation is to raise, manage and invest funds for the benefit of STISD students.



  1. ^ "Search for Public School Districts – District Detail for South Texas Independent School District". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "Contact STISD Archived 2012-09-13 at" South Texas Independent School District. Retrieved on May 9, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Gender and Ethnicity Student Report 14 15." South Texas Independent School District. Retrieved on November 28th, 2014.
  4. ^ "Career & Technology Half-Day Programs". South Texas Independent School District. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Texas Accountability Rating System". Texas Education Agency. Retrieved 13 August 2019.

External linksEdit