HISD Board of Education approves special education program review

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday approved a proposal to select American Institutes for Research to implement a comprehensive Special Education Program Review.

In preparation for the 2017-18 school year, and in response to feedback from the community and HISD staff, HISD is re-evaluating how it delivers special education services to students and families. The Special Education Program Review will help the district’s efforts to improve special education services.

The review will identify how the district is providing proactive intervention for struggling students, offer suggestions on the evaluation referral process, and examine the process for identifying students with disabilities. The review will also evaluate the development of the individualized education program (IEP).

“This review is a step in the right direction for HISD,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Grenita Lathan. “Our primary goal is to ensure every student who needs special education services receives the assistance needed.”

An internal review has begun under the direction of an ad hoc committee chaired by Board of Education Trustee Anne Sung.

The district is also hosting special education forums where parents can address concerns or meet one-on-one with district leadership. Parents will be able to submit questions electronically at computer stations on site at the meetings, email questions in advance to SpecialEducation@HoustonISD.org, or submit questions through an online form at HoustonISD.org/SpecialEducation. Parents can also ask their child’s school for a special education comment card, fill it out, and return it to the school’s front office.

There are two more opportunities to attend:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
8:30 to 10 a.m.
HISD East Field Office
1102 Telephone Road, Houston 77023

*(Spanish interpretations available)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
6 to 7:30 p.m.
HISD South Field Office
4040 W. Fuqua St., Houston 77045

*(Spanish interpretations available)

In March, the Board accepted the resignation of Sowmya Kumar, assistant superintendent of special education. Dr. Joan Anderson will serve as the interim assistant superintendent for special education. Dr. Anderson recently served as senior manager of special education programs. Prior to joining HISD, she was executive director of special education services for Boston (Mass.) Public Schools and senior director of special education for Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools.

The HISD Board of Education also approved the district’s goals to be met by Superintendent Richard Carranza. The board established three primary goals after hosting three board workshops this year.

The first goal is to increase the percentage of students reading and writing at or above grade level from third grade through high school English II by 3 percentage points annually between spring 2017 and spring 2022. The second goal to be met by Superintendent Carranza is to increase the number of graduates meeting the Global Graduate standards by 3 percentage points annually from 2017 up to 85 percent by 2022. The third goal is to help students who exhibit below-satisfactory performance on state assessments. The percentage of students who demonstrate at least one year of academic growth will increase 3 percentage points annually in reading and in math between spring 2017 and spring 2022.