Houston ISD Meets Tougher State Accountability Standard

The Houston Independent School District earned an overall Met Standard rating under the new Texas school accountability system, the Texas Education Agency announced Thursday.

More than three-quarters – 78 percent – of individual HISD schools earned a Met Standard rating under the new system that seeks to measure whether students are on track to graduate ready for college and the workplace. Of the 210 HISD schools that were awarded a Met Standard rating, 154 earned an additional distinction designation for especially strong student progress, or achievement in math and/or reading/English language arts.

In HISD, 58 schools were given a Required Improvement rating.

“The new school accountability ratings system is a strong tool for Texas systems – like the Houston Independent School District – that are focused on year-over-year student academic achievement gains and closing performance gaps for low-income students and minorities,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “We’re pleased that 94 percent of our schools met the student achievement index that measures performance across all subject areas. At the same time, these ratings clearly highlight areas where we must focus our resources to ensure every student in every neighborhood is prepared to succeed in college and in the workforce.”

How the new ratings were calculated

Under the new accountability system, schools are rated either Met Standard or Improvement Required. The new system is designed to improve student performance and prepare all students for success after high school. It is more comprehensive in that it addresses diversity of student populations and educational settings.

It is the first accountability system to use student scores on the more rigorous State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). Comparing these ratings to those earned under the previous Texas school accountability system is not possible, because the old system relied on scores from the less rigorous Texas Assessments of Knowledge and Skills.

The school ratings system looks at four key indexes to determine Met Standard or Improvement Required status: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

HISD campus results for each of the four indexes were:

  • Student achievement: 251 out of 268 rated schools (94 percent) met standard
  • Student progress: 235 out of 263 rated schools (89 percent) met standard
  • Closing performance gaps: 232 out of 265 rated schools (88 percent) met standard
  • Postsecondary readiness: 42 out of 46 rated schools (91 percent) met standard

In addition, distinction designations were awarded to campuses based on performance compared to a group of campuses of similar type, size, and student demographics. These distinction designations acknowledge that these campuses not only met accountability standards, but also demonstrated outstanding academic performance in other areas. The number of HISD schools earning these distinctions in each category were:

    • Distinction for student progress: 94 schools
    • Distinction for academic achievement in reading/English language arts: 125 schools
    • Distinction for academic achievement in math: 88 schools

Click here for more information on the new accountability ratings.

Intervention plans already underway

As part of the 2013-2014 budget adopted in June, the HISD Board of Education voted to set aside $16 million to fund intensive tutoring and additional instructional time at 15 middle and high schools. Eight of these campuses are participating in the Apollo 20 school turnaround program that began three years ago. Tutoring and additional class time are Apollo 20 cornerstones, producing student achievement gains similar to those seen in America’s top charter schools. In fact, half of the original Apollo 20 schools, which were once the lowest-performing schools in HISD, were awarded a Met Standard designation under the new accountability system.
The budget for the upcoming school year also includes $14 million to spend an extra $350 per student at 126 schools. Those 126 schools, including all 58 that were rated Required Improvement, will use this money to fund interventions, including small-group tutoring and extended instructional time, for students who are performing below grade level in reading, math and science.

Specifically, these elementary schools will be required to:

        • Ensure students will receive at least 145 minutes of daily literacy instruction, nearly an hour more per day than the typical elementary school student receives.
        • Implement specific, research-based reading and math interventions and dedicate time during the school day for students to receive the interventions.
        • Send teachers and administrators to specialized professional development focused on increasing effectiveness of literacy instruction.

Secondary schools will be required to:

      • Expand the current Secondary Reading Initiative from grades 6 and 9 to also include grades 7 and 10. Students reading below grade level will receive an extra class period in reading/English language arts. Teachers in these classes will complete training through the Neuhaus Education Center and use specialized curriculum and interventions.
      • Implement specific, research-based reading and math interventions, including intensive tutoring.
      • Send math and science teachers to specialized training offered by Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University to increase core content knowledge and pedagogy.
      • High schools will be required to offer a College Readiness Course developed by Andover College Preparatory to juniors and seniors.
      • High schools must use the district Advanced Placement curriculum and send teachers to required training in four AP courses: English Literature and Composition, US History, World History, and Calculus.