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Former teacher gives lesson in the art of turning a negative into a positive

2014 October 9
by HISD Communications

Brad Pearl talks about how he used discouraging data to transform his instruction

Brad Pearl

Brad Pearl

When veteran educator Brad Pearl received his EVAAS data from Furr HS in the fall of 2012, he also received a rude shock. Despite Pearl being the subject of a video exemplar just a few months earlier that showed other educators how to teach higher-level thinking skills, his students’ scores from the previous year indicated “negative growth,” or regression instead of advancement.

“Initially, it was very frustrating,” said Pearl, “because I knew that I wasn’t a bad teacher. I don’t just work harder, I work smarter. You always have to find new ways not just of delivering information but of building rapport with kids.”

Still, that data gave Pearl cause to reflect and spurred him to adjust his methods. He focused on aligning his lessons more closely with the TEKS, making them more relevant to his students’ daily lives, and bringing technology—specifically, tablets—into the classroom to build excitement.

“You have to get kids to want to achieve at a high level beyond their perceived capabilities,” Pearl said. “And iPads are kind of a toy, but they’re also something that motivates you. You’ve got to have a carrot; it can’t be all stick.”

The result of his efforts was a “huge turnaround” in his EVAAS scores the following year. “I got all excited,” said Pearl. “It still wasn’t high, according to the district level, but it was a 200-point swing, and I went from red to green.” There was now greater alignment of Student Performance, Instructional Practice, and self-perception.

Pearl advises other struggling teachers to find something they’re passionate about and to use that passion to identify tools or resources that would help them advance instruction—and then ask for them.

“It’s very hard to come back from the red (zone),” noted Pearl, “but you can’t just give up, because you’ve got kids you’re working with. I don’t feel ineffective because there’s room for growth. I always know there’s something to improve upon.”  Pearl now serves as a campus technologist at Furr High School.  HISD is committed to the growth, development and support for all teachers.

Teachers: Have you made changes based on your annual assessment that yielded positive results? If so, share your stories with us at and you could be featured online. We’re particularly interested in educators who have used their goal-setting conferences to ask for particular types of support or resources—and received them as a result.

Questions about the TADS process? Email

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