Countdown to 2014-2015: What’s new in HISD #10 — Big changes in high school

This is the first in a series of stories counting down to the start of school, spotlighting what is new in HISD in the coming year.

For some students, high school planning used to involve plotting a college path, and for others a vocational path. Starting this August, under a package of state legislation known as House Bill 5, all ninth-grade students will be charting a personalized course that will combine academic rigor with potential career choices.

Ninth-graders — working with their parents and counselors — will be required to pursue a 26-credit Distinguished Level of Achievement basic graduation plan, including Algebra II. HISD opted for the more challenging plan because it makes students eligible for automatic admission into state universities, if they graduate in the top 10 percent of their class, and prepares them more fully for higher education or workforce training. Continue reading

Furr freshmen focus on science, technology, team-building

Solar powered cars, goldfish surviving below soil, wind turbines that generate enough energy to light a house — these aren’t scenes from an environmental film. These student projects were on display as part of a STEM exhibit during the last week of the summer bridge program at Furr High School.

Students and teachers culminated nearly two weeks of activities to prepare incoming ninth-graders for high school by showcasing projects centered on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

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Israel trip delivers powerful life lessons to eight HISD students

Rising senior Mai Pham (CVHS) wades in the Sea of Galilee.

Rising senior Mai Pham (CVHS) wades in the Sea of Galilee.

Eight current and former HISD students got the trip of a lifetime recently, after spending four weeks in Israel courtesy of the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship.

Students from Carnegie Vanguard High School (CVHS), the Houston Academy for International Studies (HAIS), Reagan High School, and Yates High School won eight of the ten spots available in the program, which is open to both rising seniors and recent graduates from Texas’ 18th Congressional District.

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Futures graduation brings students one step closer to their dreams

84 HISD grads now have diplomas plus degrees or workforce certifications

Many of the students who graduated in the first cohort of the HISD Futures Academy are the first in their family to attend college, aspire to be leaders, and have big dreams for their future.

Some dream of leaving behind their old neighborhoods and leading their families to a better livelihood by becoming architects, engineers, entrepreneurs or computer game developers. Continue reading

HISD schools fare well in state accountability ratings

The Houston Independent School District earned an overall “Met Standard” rating, according to school accountability results released today by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

The number of HISD campuses awarded a Met Standard rating also grew. Nearly 83 percent of the schools met all required performance standards, compared to 78 percent in 2012-2013.

“The work we are doing to address schools that were falling behind in student achievement is paying off,” said HISD Superintendent Terry Grier. “There is still more work to be done, but we are headed in the right direction. We will continue to find ways to close the performance gap and improve student achievement.”

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Just plain ‘welcome’ to new year for HISD administrators

Even though it was billed as a “Welcome Back” rally for HISD administrators Friday at Chavez HS, Superintendent Terry Grier was quick to make a distinction. “It’s a ‘we never went anywhere’ event,” he said, thanking the hundreds of employees who worked through the summer.

Among those Grier acknowledged were the principals at 29 of the district’s schools that offered extended-year programs for students through last week, and those who worked on the district’s new Linked Learning approach that creates a single pathway for academic rigor and career preparation with 40 pilot schools, the second phase of the PowerUp one-to-one laptop initiative, which will add 18 high schools, and expansion of dual language programs to a total of 28 HISD campuses.
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Lamar HS hosts IB training for 38 Houston-area schools

More than 700 teachers from 38 schools in Houston ISD and surrounding districts got together at Lamar High School on Aug. 7-8 for International Baccalaureate training.

The districts collaborated on this training because it is cost effective. Workshop leaders came from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico to share their knowledge and experience.
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Teachers explore engineering, coding at STEM Summer Institute

More than 60 educators spent the first week in August exploring ways to implement science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities in their classrooms.

The emphasis of the STEM Summer Institute, which was hosted by Office of Innovative Curriculum and held at the Kingdom Builders Center, was on building capacity in engineering, coding, and robotics, as well as 3D printing. The goal is to implement components of the program in third- through eighth-grade classrooms throughout the district.
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HISD student SAT, Advanced Placement test scores improve

Houston ISD students saw an increase in their SAT math, reading and composite scores during the 2013-2014 school year, according to a recent college readiness report from the College Board. Students who took the college entrance exam on HISD’s SAT School Day in April improved their reading scores by six points and their math scores by four points. Continue reading

Futures Academy session teaches reality of income, money management

Long Academy student Jheysson Menendez imagined what his life would be like if he was a mail clerk with an annual salary just over $29,000.

“I have to cut back on my phone and cable bill,” Menendez said while making a budget during a financial literacy session Wednesday at the Junior Achievement Finance Park, an interactive community with business models created to teach students about career readiness, entrepreneurship, and money management.

Students were given real-life scenarios that consisted of a job, family, and home during the session, which was part of the Futures Academy Enrichment Week held Monday through Wednesday for rising 10th graders interested in applying for the academy. The academy offers students the opportunity to receive college credit, career training and industry credentials to provide them with options for a promising future after high school. Continue reading