This year, in nearly 200 classrooms at nine HISD elementary schools, parents are experiencing a new kind of parent-teacher conference that gives them the tools both to expand their children’s learning and to monitor their progress.
Schools in their second or third years of implementing the Academy Parent-Teacher Teams (APTT) program are continuing to perfect and expand the new model of meetings to empower parents to help their children learn outside of school.
The model replaces traditional parent-teacher conferences with three 75-minute group meetings involving all parents in the class, and one 30-minute individual session with the student, teacher, and parents. During group meetings, teachers share student performance data and expectations for the class, review skills, and model hands-on activities parents can do at home to help their children master skills. Parents practice the activities at home with their kids over a 60-day period until their next meeting, when they can again review the data and see how their child has progressed. Continue reading →
From left, Shadowbriar ES Principal Mark Samuel, Davis HS Principal Julissa Alcantar-Martinez, and HISD Chief Student Support Officer Mark Smith at the White House.
HISD representatives traveled to the White House on July 22 to participate in “Rethink School Discipline,” a convening on how to improve school discipline policies and practices. HISD Chief Student Support Officer Mark Smith, Davis High School Principal Julissa Alcantar-Martinez, and Shadowbriar Elementary School Principal Mark Samuel attended the conference.
Across the country, there is concern that zero-tolerance policies in schools are resulting in more student suspensions and expulsions, which places students on the streets when they should be learning in school. According to the Civil Rights Data Collection, more than 3 million students across the country are suspended or expelled every year.
“The convening was a great starting place to discuss the need for a change to the zero-tolerance approach to discipline,” Dr. Alcantar-Martinez said. “They prompted us to re-evaluate our code of conduct and to work with students to include their insight into discipline options at all levels. We plan to share with our peers and work toward exploring alternatives that keep kids in school, thus reducing suspensions.”
It’s never too early to get students excited about college. Shadowbriar and Mading elementary schools took fourth-grade students on college visits recently. Close to 150 Shadowbriar students, teachers, and staff, as well as some alumni parents, traveled to Texas A&M University (TAMU), and 55 Mading students went to University of Texas at Austin (UT).
The Houston Independent School District is working to readjust attendance boundaries at almost two dozen schools in an effort to reduce classroom overcrowding.
The move is in response to a directive from the Texas Education Agency, which requires kindergarten through fourth-grade classes to have no more than 22 students per classroom. Classes that exceed that number must request a state waiver.
September is Attendance Awareness Month, and HISD schools have worked hard to make sure students are in class. Some schools have used incentives, such as parties, to increase attendance.
Students at Shadowbriar ES donned their favorite pajamas on Fri., Sept. 27 – everything from Hello Kitty and Sonic the Hedgehog to the Buc-ee’s beaver – for a party to celebrate achieving a 98-percent attendance rate. Principal Stephanie Davis said the 74 percent of students who had perfect attendance will get another treat – a popsicle party where they can win prizes.
From friendly campus competitions to going door to door in their communities, HISD schools are getting creative in ways to increase student attendance. September is Attendance Awareness Month, and HISD is joining school districts around the nation to deliver the message that attendance matters for success in school and in life, and that too many absences can easily add up to academic trouble.
At the monthly HISD principals’ meeting on September 4, school leaders shared what they are doing to reward students who come to school every day, and how they are reaching out to those who are having attendance issues.