Category Archives: News

HISD principal named Region 4 Principal of the Year

Geovanny J. Ponce, principal of Jones Futures Academy, has been named the 2018 Region 4 Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).

Ponce joins winners from the state’s 19 other Education Service Center regions in a pool of candidates for the honor of Texas Principal of the Year title. TASSP recognizes outstanding principals and assistant principals from each of the 20 regions every year.

“I believe in quality education for all children,” Ponce said. “We need to make sure our children will be successful in a global society by teaching them to be leaders.”

Ponce was selected to represent HISD in the Region 4 segment of the competition based on his outstanding performance with traditionally underserved children. Ponce instills collaborative leadership to ensure students from all social, economic and ethnic backgrounds have equal access high-quality learning opportunities. Continue reading

HISD receives national curriculum award for Achieve 180 program 

Research and Accountability Assistant Superintendent Carla Stevens also honored by CGCS for 25 years of service

HISD’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction has been awarded the “Making Strides Together Curriculum Award for Excellence in Urban Education” by the Council of the Great City Schools for the district’s work on its Achieve 180 program.

HISD Assistant Superintendent of Research and Accountability Carla Stevens displays her award for 25 years of service.

The award, which was presented this week in Minneapolis during the Annual Curriculum and Research Directors’ Joint Meeting, recognizes work across organizational silos to support a common goal to improve student achievement, as well as cross-functional teams’ planning, implementation, and progressmonitoring.

Achieve 180, which was implemented during the 2017-2018 school year, is a program to support, strengthen, and empower underserved and underperforming HISD schools. A key component of the research-based initiative is family and community empowerment. Achieve 180 also includes five other pillars: leadership excellence, teaching excellence, instructional excellence, school design, and social and emotional learning support. Continue reading

Fifth annual Special Education Conference planned for July 17-18 

The Office of Special Education will hold its fifth annual Special Education Conference next month for parents and educators to share supports and strategies that help students with disabilities to be successful – academically, socially, and emotionally.

The two-day conference will be held from 7:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18 at Kingdom Builders’ Center (6011 W Orem Dr., 77085).

The theme of this year’s conference is “Engage, Restore and Support Every Student.” With presentations from teachers and thought leaders in the special education field, participants can expect to leave transformed and ready to begin the school year armed with new and effective instructional and behavioral strategies.  Continue reading

A special message from Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan

The HISD family is heartbroken by images of young children being separated from their parents at the border. Children seeking asylum should not have to go through the trauma of being separated from their parents, especially after fleeing a violent or unstable situation in their home countries. We work with children every day, and we know how instability, stress and loss can impact a child’s ability to learn and develop. The district recognizes the importance of children remaining with their families and we urge federal officials to reunite families that have been separated. As HISD stands by these families, we also want to take this opportunity to reassure our students and parents that the district remains committed to providing a quality education to EVERY student – regardless of their immigration status.

HISD wins national award for crisis communications during Hurricane Harvey  

District wins 5 NSPRA Golden Achievement Awards and multiple honors for print and digital communications 

The Houston Independent School District Communications team was honored for its crisis communications to families, staff, and the community during Hurricane Harvey – the worst disaster in Houston history – with a Golden Achievement Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).

HISD’s Communications team, under the direction of Chief Communications Officer Rebecca Suarez, worked day and night to keep families and the public informed before, during, and after Hurricane Harvey. In addition to local communications efforts, the team also facilitated the dissemination of information on a state and national level.

“Harvey did not stop us, but it made us stronger. Despite the difficulties from the hurricane, we found creative ways to communicate critical and timely information to our students, parents, employees, and the community during one of the worst disasters in local history,” Suarez said. “I’m very proud of my team for the hard work and commitment to putting students first in everything we do.”

Golden Achievement Awards recognize exemplary work in all aspects of school public relations, communication, marketing, and engagement. HISD won a total of five Golden Achievement Awards for the following work:  Continue reading

HISD ‘Get Growing Houston’ school garden program awarded grant from USDA 

The Houston Independent School District has been awarded a $67,395 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the district’s “Get Growing Houston” program.

Part of the USDA’s Farm to School Program, the grant will enable HISD’s Nutrition Services department to expand the program to 15 additional schools, which will be selected in the fall.

The program was piloted during the 2017-2018 school year in four elementary schools: Hobby, Shearn, Gallegos, and Cook.

“Get Growing Houston” uses an interdisciplinary approach to teach elementary school students about the importance of healthy foods and good nutrition through the creation and cultivation of school gardens.

“Once students feel the ownership of the garden, their preferences and willingness to try the produce they grew increases,” HISD Food Literacy Dietitian Julia Jarrell said. “It also opens the discussion to the benefits of a healthy diet, agriculture and cultural preferences, and exposure to other people’s relationship with foods.”   Continue reading

HISD Board of Education approves 2018-2019 budget

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved a $2 billion budget for the 2018-2019 school year.

The budget includes $17 million in increases for special education, dyslexia programs, and Achieve 180, the research-based program that will continue next school year to support underserved and underperforming schools. The budget also includes a performance review by the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB).

The board also voted to reduce the proposed performance review allotment from $2.5 million to $1 million, with the difference of $1.5 million being transferred immediately to the general fund reserve for operations. The total cost of the performance review to be conducted by the LBB has not yet been determined.  The LBB is expected to begin working on the performance review in fall 2018 so that findings may be used by the board in the decision-making process during the next budget cycle.

As other large school districts in Texas, HISD continues to face looming budget shortfalls in the coming years due to inadequate state funding and increasing recapture payments. HISD has been designated by the state as a property-wealthy school district under the state’s school finance system, despite the fact that almost 80 percent of students are considered low-income.

Recapture requires districts that exceed a certain per-student property wealth level to send local tax dollars to the state. The 2018-19 budget has a $272.5 million recapture payment budgeted.

Program offers grads an opportunity to explore high-paying careers 

Are you a graduated senior interested in getting to work right away? Are you still trying to navigate your plans? HISD is offering an opportunity to explore high-paying careers in high-demand fields on Thursday, June 28 through BridgeYear.

Two sessions (morning and afternoon) will be offered to accommodate student schedules:

  • Session #1: 9 a.m. – noon
  • Session #2: 1 – 4 p.m.

Continue reading

Preliminary HISD STAAR scores show strong gains across multiple grades, subjects, and student groups

Houston Independent School District students showed strong gains that exceeded those made by the state in third- through eighth-grade reading and math, and on end-of-course (EOC) assessments in English I and Algebra I, according to preliminary 2018 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores.

“This year, our students made significant progress on the state-mandated STAAR tests,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “We are excited about what these preliminary results mean for our schools labeled by the state as Improvement Required and our district’s accountability ratings. HISD is shifting course and turning schools around. We know that it is critical that we continue our commitment to strengthening the supports in place to further advance our progress in student achievement.”

Overall, the spring administration of the 2018 STAAR grades 3-8 assessment results indicate the district held steady or showed increases in the percentage of students meeting the Approaches Grade Level standard in reading, math, science, and social studies. Continue reading