HISD’s Report Card: 92 percent of schools earn passing grade on state accountability system 

Kashmere High School rewrites history by earning passing grade

The Houston Independent School District earned an overall high “B” rating by the Texas Education Agency under the state accountability system for the 2018-2019 academic year, exiting nine campuses from the state’s “Improvement Required” list. The district earned a grade of 88.

According to the ratings released by TEA, 92 percent of HISD schools (250 out of 271 rated campuses) earned a passing grade. For the first time, all HISD schools received a letter grade under the state’s new A-F rating system, which was implemented in 2018. Fifty-seven HISD campuses earned A’s, 78 earned B’s, 86 earned C’s and 29 earned D’s. A minimum grade of “D” is required for a school to receive a passing rating.

“We are extremely proud of all of our teachers, principals, school support officers, and area superintendents for working diligently to help our students succeed,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “Our students demonstrated significant gains, and we are committed to empowering them to thrive academically.”

After being on TEA’s struggling list of schools for eight consecutive years, Kashmere High School earned a passing grade and was removed from IR status. The campus received a “C” rating from TEA for the 2018-2019 school year.

“We are rewriting history at Kashmere High, one teacher, one student, one community at a time,” Lathan said. “We never gave up on our students, and with the right support and strategic plan in place, we have changed the narrative.”

Kicking off the celebration at Kashmere on Thursday, student emcee and rising senior Samaj Cager expressed her pride in how far her campus has come in a short amount of time.

“The students, faculty and administration have worked extremely hard to get us to this day,” Cager told the jubliant crowd of Kashmere alumni, parents and students in the school’s auditorium. “The diligent work exhibited by everyone who played a part in the rise of Kashmere High School has finally paid off.”

Kashmere Principal Reginald Bush, a 20-year veteran leader who previously led Kashmere Gardens Elementary School out of IR status, said the work will continue on his campus to improve academic achievement.

“We are not going to take our foot off the gas just because we have met and surpassed the goal of getting out of IR,” said Kashmere Principal Reginald Bush. “We will continue onward and upward until we earn an ‘A.’”

The additional eight HISD campuses that successfully exited the IR list after earning passing grades from TEA are: Codwell, Highland Heights, Marshall and Sherman elementary schools; Attucks and Henry middle schools; and North Forest and Washington high schools. A total of nine out of the 11 HISD campuses on IR status earned passing grades.

Some HISD IR campuses, along with other academically struggling campuses, are designated as Achieve 180 schools, receiving additional resources and support to make a 180-degree turnaround. 

“A small army of people has worked extremely hard to bring our children up to the level where we know they should be,” Achieve 180 Area Superintendent Felicia Adams said. “Having these campuses out of IR is wonderful news, and our ultimate goal is to have zero schools with that label.”

Under the A-F system, campuses must receive a grade of “D” or better in order to meet state accountability standards. Based on TEA’s accountability system, 21 HISD schools received an “F” rating for the 2018-2019 school year, including: Ashford, Isaacs, C. Martinez, Northline, Osborne, Robinson, Rucker, Seguin, Smith, Whidby and Young elementary schools; Deady, Edison, E-STEM Central, Fleming, High School Ahead Academy, Key, Sugar Grove, Thomas and Williams middle schools; and Wheatley High School.

If not for the provision introduced into TEA’s 2018 Accountability Manual, HISD would have 6 fewer “F” campuses. The provision states that “if a campus receives an ‘F’ in three of the four domain calculations (Student Achievement, Academic Growth, Relative Performance, Closing the Gaps), the highest scaled score a campus can receive for the overall rating is a 59.” This indicates that the highest that Osborne and Ashford elementary schools, Deady, E-STEM Central, and Edison middle schools and Wheatley High School could earn is a 59, an “F” rating, which puts them in IR status.

Wheatley High School demonstrated tremendous academic progress and earned a passing grade of D this year. with a calculated score of 63. But based on the provision, the school could only obtain a maximum score allowed of 59. The district is implementing strategies to ensure Wheatley exits IR in the 2019-2020 school year with a minimum grade of “C.”

Measures include, but are not limited to, employing rigorous coaching and training exercises for teachers, utilizing robust reading intervention programs for students, implementing a campus-wide writing initiative, creating routine campus-wide speaking and listening opportunities for students who are English Language Learners, and increasing opportunities for students to earn industry certifications in Auto Repair, Information Technology and Culinary Arts. 

A handful of HISD campuses are not rated by TEA due to special student populations that do not take STAAR exams or do not take the tests in large enough numbers to be rated.

“Being here today gives me an extra boost of confidence for the things that are going to happen at Kashmere next school year,” Parent LaGasha Coleman said before the press conference at Kashmere. “I can definitely tell Mr. Bush is working hard to change the culture here at the campus.”