Category Archives: Apollo 20

HISD highlighted in Politico Magazine’s ‘What Works’ series

HISD is known for being one of the most innovative school districts in the country—and that visionary spirit is what has earned it a feature in an edition of Politico Magazine.

The district is the subject of a May 21 article in the magazine’s “What Works” series, which is designed to highlight innovative practices and how they spread across America.  Continue reading

Houston Endowment to release remaining $3 million in Apollo funds to HISD

Houston Endowment informed the Houston Independent School District this week that it will release a $3 million payment for the district’s Apollo school turnaround program in January.

The Foundation deferred the final payment on its three-year, $6 million grant to the HISD Foundation pending its review of the project’s third year report by Dr. Roland Fryer of Harvard University.

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HISD School Turnaround Effort Closing Math Achievement Gap

Dr. Roland Fryer

Students taking part in the Houston Independent School District’s three-year effort to turn around struggling schools have achieved academic gains similar to students enrolled in America’s highest-performing charter schools, according to Harvard University Economics Professor Roland Fryer’s research.

Dr. Fryer presented his research findings Wednesday to the HISD Board of Education and representatives from non-profit and business organizations. Launched in 2010-2011, the Apollo 20 program has received $16.8 million in donations to offset costs. Key findings from Dr. Fryer’s research include:

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Chase Continues Support for Apollo 20 Program

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Sharpstown HS student Scorpia Taban started the 2013–2014 school year on Monday missing some crucial school supplies. But now, thanks to a generous donation by Chase, the freshman is equipped with all she needs for a successful year. “This is great, because this morning I didn’t have a backpack,” Taban said. “This really helps me out, and I am very grateful.”

Taban and all freshmen on the Apollo 20 campus received new backpacks filled with school supplies, while students in grades 10-12 received pens, highlighters, spiral notebooks, binders, and more. The donation was made possible through a partnership between Chase and World Vision, an organization dedicated to working with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.

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U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Coming to HISD to Discuss Apollo 20 Turnaround Program

Who: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, HISD Board of Education President Anna Eastman, Superintendent Terry Grier, and Lee High School students, parents, teachers, tutors, and administration

What: Secretary Duncan is visiting Lee High School to learn about HISD’s innovative Apollo 20 school turnaround program.  HISD partnered with Harvard EdLabs to launch Apollo 20 at Lee and eight other secondary schools during the 2010-2011 school year.  The program, which now includes 11 elementary schools, employs research-based best practices inspired by America’s top charter schools.  By emphasizing effective teaching and campus leadership, high-dosage tutoring, data-driven instruction, extended learning time, and a no-excuses culture, Apollo 20 schools are providing a roadmap for other urban school districts in need of a reliable turnaround model for persistently struggling schools.  The project is funded in large part by $16.8 million from private donations.  More information about Apollo 20 is available here.
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Donors Step up to Fund Apollo 20 School Turnaround Effort

Contributions benefitting HISD’s innovative effort to transform 20 struggling schools total $16.8 million

The most ambitious private fund raising effort in HISD history has successfully concluded with the recent $1 million donation from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to the district’s Apollo 20 school turnaround program.  This donation brings the total amount given to Apollo 20 by the rodeo to $2 million.

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Walnut Bend blogs about journey to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals

Students from Walnut Bend Elementary School earned honors at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Ames, Iowa. Walnut Bend, an Apollo 20 campus, competed against 800 teams along with seven other HISD schools: Bellaire High School, Pin Oak Middle School, and Horn, Poe, River Oaks, Roberts, and West University Elementary Schools. The student-driven problem-solving competition emphasizes teamwork and creativity.

From the Walnut Bend blog: Pictured is coach Michelle Dahlquist apprising the fourth-grade team of how they did on their long-term problem.

Along the way, the team chronicled the adventure on the Walnut Bend Odyssey of the Mind team blog.

Walnut Bend Principal Susan Shenker watched a live video stream of the awards ceremony on Saturday, May 26. “I am so very proud of our amazing, hard-working students and their incomparable coach, Michele Dahlquist,” Shenker said. “Competitions such as this are a reminder that real learning is about creating and problem-solving and that these types of experiences should be available to all learners.”

Walnut Bend earned third-place honors in the “You Make the Call” category, in which students were required to “design and build a structure made of only balsa wood and glue that will support as much weight as possible.” The school also ranked fourth in the “Ooh-Motional Vehicles” category, which required students to “design, build, and drive a vehicle that will travel a course where it will encounter three different situations. The vehicle will display a different human emotion for each encounter and one will cause it to travel in reverse.”

Education leaders tour Apollo 20 campuses to see how HISD is incorporating technology

Some of America’s most innovative education leaders gathered at the Houston Independent School District’s headquarters on March 19 for the second meeting of the League of Innovative Schools.

Fondren Middle School Principal Charles Foust (far left) explains to members of the League of Innovative Schools how his campus is using technology to drive instruction.

Designed to give educators a chance to dramatically increase student achievement through the wise use of technology, the league was launched by President Barack Obama in 2011 in tandem with Digital Promise, a new national education center created by the Congress and the U.S. Department of Education.

Superintendents from across the country attended the Houston meeting, where they—along with dozens of respected researchers and entrepreneurs—adopted the league’s membership charter, took part in break-out sessions on various topics, and toured one of five Apollo 20 campuses to see how HISD is using technology to drive instruction.

“Mr. McNairy, one of our history teachers, can get instant assessments and download data to his grade book immediately using the Classroom Performance System,” explained Fondren Middle School Principal Charles Foust, “while Ms. Perry can be anywhere in the classroom and her writing will appear on the SMART Board up front.”

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