Achieve 180 teachers didn’t let Wednesday’s cold front stop the festivities as they prepared for their biggest challenge outside of the classroom — determining which campus had the best chili.
The district invited nearly 1,400 teachers from the turnaround program to a first-ever, pep-rally-style Achieve 180 Tailgate as a celebration of the teachers’ efforts to transform some of the district’s most undeserved campuses and critical student populations.
“This is our way of saying thank you for always making our students a priority,” Achieve 180 Area Superintendent Felicia Adams said. “Whether it’s arriving early, staying late, (or) constantly attending professional development opportunities, none of our achievements would have been possible with you.”
As the saying goes, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” and that’s just how Area Superintendent Felicia Adams chooses to lead the district’s turnaround program, Achieve 180.
“My leadership style is a hands-on modeling approach where I lead from the inside rather than the outside,” Adams said. “I am big on modeling and showing administrators what the work looks like to move a campus forward.”
A 25-plus year educator and former principal with her own accolades, Adams knows firsthand how to support the Achieve 180 campus leaders in gaining distinctions and closing achievement gaps within literacy and mathematics among the district’s most underserved populations.
From a sprawling mural featuring famous politicians and educators to students laughing as they head to their next class, it’s hard to imagine Houston’s Fifth Ward community without Wheatley High School, the campus that has served many residents as a gateway to adulthood.
There’s the feeling of perseverance and reassurance when you step foot onto the Wheatley campus. Plagued with the “improvement Required” label since 2012, the district learned in August 2019 that Wheatley wouldn’t meet standard for the 2018-2019 school year.
Despite Wheatley High School demonstrating tremendous academic progress and earning a passing grade of D this year with a calculated score of 63, they earned an overall rating of 59 due to a provision introduced into TEA’s 2018 Accountability Manual.
Houston Independent School District experts took center stage along with community leaders, social service experts, and child advocates at a nationally televised town hall broadcast Tuesday evening by NBC News Learn, the educational division of NBC News.
The broadcast event, which was held at the University of Houston-Downtown, included a one-on-one interview with HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, who discussed the current state of HISD schools, as well as the future of Wheatley High School.
“Wheatley High School is open and has an outstanding principal, teachers, parents and students that are ready for the challenge,” Lathan said during the broadcast. “Wheatley will exit Improvement Required status by the end of this school year.”
Principal Reginald Bush knew it was “challenge accepted” when he was named principal at Kashmere High School, an Achieve 180 campus, prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
On a typical school day at Kashmere, you can find Bush in his signature military-style fatigues, mingling with students in the halls and checking in with teachers and staff to monitor the ongoing instruction happening in classrooms.
“From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I knew that I needed to focus on supporting the teachers, building their toolkits and modeling effective practices that would quickly move the data,” Bush said. “I built the campus’ culture on the idea of ‘No Teacher Left Behind,’ and I wanted to make sure we kept the human element at the forefront of everything we did with our faculty and students.”
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
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.”
HISD’s Achieve 180 program finished strong for the 2018-2019 school year, holding two of its biggest end-of-the-year meetings with district staff and campus principals to discuss best practices, modifications, and next steps.
“As we start preparing for the 2019-2020 school year, we still have a great amount of work in outlining more progressive solutions and assessing the program’s strengths and weaknesses that will better support our students and campuses,” Achieve 180 Area Superintendent Felicia Adams said. “As we look to redefine our approach through the program’s academic and supportive services, it is my hope that we exceed the even greater expectations set for next school year.”
The Achieve 180 cross-functional team, which includes district administrators, teacher development specialists, nurses, and wraparound specialists, received the first round of positive news as it relates to the turnaround program’s student performance.
With the end of school year around the corner, preparations for the 2019-20 school year are under way for the Achieve 180 program and will continue with principals and administration conducting planning sessions over the summer.
One of the major events that will assist school leaders is the district’s annual Professional Learning Series (PLS), which is scheduled for June 17-19 at Kingdom Builders’ Center. The event is an opportunity for district leadership and principals to begin drafting their school improvement plans, also known as SIPS.
The Secondary Principal of the Year kicked off the school year learning that her campus was removed from the Improvement Required list—a notable accomplishment in just one year as principal at the campus.
As part of the Achieve 180 program, it takes an all-hands-on deck approach from the district to ensure a campus yields positive results. Whether it’s members from Special Education or Interventions, support is needed from nearly all district-level departments for a school to experience a complete turnaround.
Two roles in particular—Teacher Development Specialists (TDS) and Data Driven Instructional Specialists (DDIS) play a significant role in helping transform student achievement outcomes within the classroom at Achieve 180 campuses.
“it’s important that we have both a TDS and DDIS at each of our Achieve 180 campuses as they build capacity inside and outside the classroom with teachers and campus administrators,” Assistant Superintendent Felicia Adams said. Continue reading →