HISD students outperforming peers in large urban districts

Nation’s Report Card shows gains in math across all student groups since 2003; reading scores unchanged from 2007 to 2013

The Houston Independent School District performed better than most large urban school districts in math, showing increases across all student groups compared to 2003, while reading scores remained unchanged, in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report released Dec. 18, 2013 (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/).

NAEP is released every two years for the nation, and also includes a sub-report comparing 21 participating large urban districts across the nation, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

In math, each student group at HISD exceeded the national large-city average. In eighth-grade math, HISD students performed especially well – placing Houston ISD in the top 25 percent of participating districts, ahead of San Diego, Dallas, and Miami-Dade. Additionally, Hispanic eighth-grade students outperformed all large urban districts, tying with Charlotte, N.C.; and African-American eighth-grade students performed at the top, tying with Boston and Charlotte.

Known as the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP analyzes fourth- and eighth-grade student performance in reading and mathematics by testing a representative sample of students.  Participation in the NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) is optional, but HISD is one of the six original districts to join the program since its inception in 2002.

“We are committed to evaluating ourselves and improving, which is why we choose to participate in the Nation’s Report Card. It’s important for us to know where we stand among our national peers,” said Superintendent Terry B. Grier. “These results show that targeted, research-based interventions are helping students excel in math, but also underscore an issue we know needs to be addressed urgently: literacy.”

In reading, HISD fourth-graders performed better than roughly half of the 21 participating districts. In the eighth-grade, performance was unchanged from previous years but below the national and large-city averages. Comparing 2007 averages to 2013 averages, the scores were flat for both grade levels.

“We know we need to improve the literacy of every student in Houston and that we have to address with great intensity our lowest achieving students,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Daniel Gohl. “The superintendent and HISD Board of Education are committed to the evaluation of program effectiveness, tutoring, and additional instructional time at our lowest-performing schools.”

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school, the Board of Education approved a budget that included funds allocated for intensive interventions at low-performing schools. Among those interventions:

  • Daily Reading Schedule: Elementary schools that performed in the bottom 30 percent as measured by data within the Board Monitoring System are required to adopt a standardized minimum amount of time each day to teach reading — a 135-minute reading block which includes 20 minutes of ‘independent reading’ and word analysis for vocabulary building.
  • Directed Reading: Our lowest performing elementary schools will be required to use a direct instruction reading program and an accompanying intervention program.
  • Longer School Days/Guided Tutoring: Funding was allocated for the extension of the school day at schools not meeting the state’s accountability standard or trending toward low performance. In addition, these schools have been provided funding to establish one-on-three tutoring to help struggling students in math and/or reading.