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Setting higher standards…for everyone

2013 January 25
by HISD Communications

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how the HISD Board of Education is committed to holding its members and the district as a whole to the very highest standards. In last week’s entry, I talked about the high expectations we have for every child in our schools, no matter what their circumstances.

And this week, I want to talk about how we apply that same expectation to our teachers.

On Jan. 23, HISD distributed $17.6 million worth of ASPIRE Awards to 7,201 employees for helping students succeed during the 2011–2012 school year. More than 75 percent of those recipients—or three out of every four—were classroom teachers. This is about half the amount of overall money that HISD has paid out in ASPIRE Awards in past years, because we raised the bar for educators to meet in order to qualify. Significant cuts in state education funding also played a role in the decreased award payout.

We eliminated awards based on state accountability ratings and TAKS writing standards, and began awarding campus progress and campus achievement awards to the top 20 percent of schools rather than the top half, to name just a few of the changes.

The goal of the ASPIRE Awards was never to give something to everyone; it was to recognize and reward the teachers whose students showed the most growth or the most value-added measures each year in relation to their peers.

I want to congratulate all of those who earned an ASPIRE award for their hard work toward raising student achievement. You deserve every penny of your award, and then some. I also want to encourage those who missed the mark this year. We know that the tough selection criteria impacted many strong teachers who are doing great work in the classroom. All of you bring real value to your students, and I am grateful to have you on Team HISD.

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