HISD earns “Met Standard” rating from state for the 2014-2015 school year

Almost 80 percent of HISD campuses also receive “Met Standard” designation.

The Houston Independent School District earned an overall “Met Standard” rating, according to 2015 state accountability data released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.

The district received the rating — the highest offered under the state’s current accountability system — despite increasing performance targets on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, test.

In addition to the district, 217 HISD schools — or almost 80 percent of the district’s 275 rated campuses — earned the distinction of having “Met Standard.” Included on that list are 15 campuses that improved enough to boost their rating and come off the list of schools designated last year as requiring improvement.

Those campuses include: Furr, Madison, Westbury and Booker T. Washington high schools, Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center, Jones Futures Academy, Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, Billy Reagan K-8 Educational Center, Jackson Middle School, Las Americas Newcomer School, Energized for STEM and Long academies, Atherton and Fondren elementary schools, and Reach Charter School.

HISD also saw an increase in the number of campuses rated by the TEA, with the total number jumping from 264 last year to 275 this year. Last year, the state ordered HISD to assume control of the neighboring North Forest school district, but did not rate the seven former North Forest campuses or the two nearby that took in a significant percentage of North Forest students.

Five of the nine schools that previously were not rated because they had a significant number of North Forest students didn’t meet state standards this year.

“I know how hard so many of our students, teachers and administrators worked to ensure teaching and learning was happening in every classroom, every day. I’m proud of them for helping us to continue to meet the state standard,” HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said. “Of course, we still have more work to do and areas in which we need to improve, and that’s exactly where we are focused.”

Overall, HISD surpassed the performance targets set for each of the four key accountability indexes:

 

Index

State Target HISD Score
Index 1 – Student Achievement

60

68

Index 2 – Student Progress

20

39

Index 3 – Closing Performance Gap

28

37

Index 4 – Post Secondary Readiness 57

76

Many HISD campuses that were rated as having “Met Standard” also received distinctions for top level performance:

2015 HISD Distinction Designations

# Eligible HISD Campuses # Awarded Distinction

% Awarded Distinction

Top 25% Student Progress

254

78

31

Academic Achievement in Reading/ELA

254

83

33

Academic Achievement in Mathematics

89 (Algebra I Only)

45

51

Academic Achievement in Science

251

83

33

Academic Achievement in Social Studies

87

32

37

Top 25% Closing Performance Gaps

254

68

27

Postsecondary Readiness

254

82

32

Administrators attributed some of the district’s success to a bump — slightly higher than the state average — in third-grade reading scores. The increase coincides with the launch of the Literacy by 3 initiative, which calls for all students to be reading and writing fluently by the third grade.

As part of the program, all kindergarten through third-grade classrooms were provided last year with leveled libraries, a special collection of books designed for students at varied reading levels. By providing materials at differing levels, teachers are better able to meet the needs of all students.

Generally, the ratings in Houston seem to mirror those of the state, with a majority of schools doing well and some still falling short. According to the 2015 data, 58 HISD schools did not meet state standards and were designated “Improvement Required.”

District officials already have begun studying data and implementing measures designed to ensure struggling schools have they support they need to be successful. The HISD Schools Office has been restructured, allowing low performing “transformation” campuses to be grouped together and assigned to veteran administrators with experience in turning schools around. These administrators have fewer schools to oversee, allowing them to dedicate more time to schools and principals who need extra support.

The secondary curriculum office also underwent a reorganization designed to help improve instruction with technological integration at the secondary level. The office also hired a director of secondary literacy who is tasked with determining how to build upon Literacy By 3 efforts once students are in upper grade levels.

In addition to restructuring, HISD has placed a strong emphasis on recruiting and retaining the very best teachers and principals. Starting teacher salaries have been boosted to $51,500, which makes them more competitive and aids in recruiting efforts. Middle and high school principals also will see salary increases that bring them more in line with their counterparts in surrounding districts.

Salaries have been increased the most for principals at high school campuses deemed “hard-to-fill.” Principals at these 13 schools — more than half of which were rated this year as “Improvement Required” — now make $130,000 a year, as well as a $20,000 annual signing and retention bonus.

The district also has been working with principals and teachers over the summer to ensure they have the training and resources needed to offer differentiated, small-group instruction designed to meet the needs of students on varying levels. The multilingual and curriculum departments also have been providing specialized training for English Language Learner teachers.

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