Superintendent outlines priorities at ‘Welcome Back’ event 

Achieve 180, wraparound services, and restorative justice practices are priorities for 2017-2018 school year 

Superintendent Richard Carranza outlined HISD’s top priorities for the 2017-2018 school year to school and district leaders at the annual “Welcome Back” back event on August 11.

Nearly 1,200 principals, deans, assistant principals, and district leaders packed Delmar Fieldhouse to hear Carranza’s message, which celebrated the successes of the previous year and outlined goals, initiatives, and challenges for the coming year.

New initiatives launching in 2017-2018 include Every Community, Every School, which will connect schools to community resources and wraparound services, and Achieve 180, a research-based action plan to serve the district’s underserved and underperforming schools. Achieve 180 will operate under six guiding pillars including teacher excellence, leadership excellence, instructional excellence, school design, social and emotional learning support, and family and community empowerment.”

“Achieve180 will use the best practices that we know are currently working for our most successful schools and we’ll use those ideas to rally around our underserved schools,” Carranza said. “It’s not the cure for cancer, but it will provide services, support, and resources to our students and schools that are struggling because their needs have gone unmet.”

Also launching during the 2017-2018 school year is the district’s in-house Secondary Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP), which will allow the district to align academic and behavioral interventions among campuses. Moving the DAEP in house furthers Carranza’s commitment to shift to a restorative justice approach to discipline, which focuses on building relationships with students and less on suspensions and punitive damages. Schools are already seeing improvement because of the change, including Sam Houston High School and McReynolds Middle Schools, both of which were featured in a video Carranza showed at the event.

Carranza also stressed the district’s commitment to taking a closer looking at how to better provide special education services and supports for students, parents, and schools. The commitment includes a third party consultant, American Institutes for Research (AIR), which is currently conducting a districtwide evaluation of special education practices across the district.  In the coming weeks, a parent survey and employee survey will be going out, and in late September and October AIR will be conducting visits to schools.

“This will be a transformative year in terms of how we meet the needs of our students, especially for our special education students,” Carranza said.

New principals, staff updates for 2017-2018 school year

The superintendent also took time out to recognize and congratulate the district’s first-year principals and welcome those who are new to the district. Attendees also got a chance to hear from Dr. Christopher Emdin, a social critic whose commentary on issues of race, culture, and inequality in education have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.