HISD using international assessment to ensure students are globally competitive

District and campus leaders gather to review OECD results and share best practices

District and campus leaders from more than a dozen HISD high schools gathered with school administrators from across the state this week to discuss the importance of making sure Texas students are globally competitive.  Much of the gathering focused on the analysis of an international assessment given to a select group of students from more than 500 schools throughout the world, including several HISD high schools.

The international exam, known as the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Test for Schools, was administered last year to a random sampling of 15-year-olds at 15 HISD high schools to assess student performance in math, science, and reading, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving. Unlike state standardized tests that measure mastery of curriculum, the OECD measures how effectively students apply what they know to solve problems.

“While the results showed that some of our schools have students who are outperforming their peers from around world, we have other campuses that are struggling,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Dan Gohl. “The goal of this week’s convening is to learn from our results, share best practices, and make changes that will contribute to improved student outcomes throughout our district.”

The gathering, held on Jan. 27, 2015, at the Asia Society of Texas, was co-hosted and facilitated by the America Achieves’ Global Learning Network, a learning community for schools that take the OECD exam.

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“Taking an assessment that compares your school to international standards is a scary thing, so we want to recognize HISD’s leadership and support them as well,” said Carolyn Trager Kliman, Senior Director of the Global Learning Network at American Achieves. “Each HISD school that administered the OECD assessment gets a report that is more than 160 pages long, so today we are helping schools wade through all that data and understand the results.”

Besides administering the OECD assessment, HISD is taking multiple steps to ensure students receive a global education. The district currently leads the state when it comes to dual-language and immersion programs. HISD offers Spanish dual-language programs at more than two dozen campuses and isplanning an expansion that will nearly double that number by fall 2015.

In addition, the district has recently hired Farhan Shah as director of Global Education, a new district department that serves as an umbrella for the growing number of international initiatives designed to make HISD students part of the solutions and innovations needed on this interdependent planet.