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Working to Step Up Recruitment, Rigor, and the Transition to 21st Century Learning

2013 October 3
by HISD Communications

We had a lot to celebrate at this week’s principals’ meeting after winning the Broad Prize for Urban Education – for the second time. By working together, we’ve improved our reading scores over the past four years twice as much as any other urban school district in the country. We’ve raised graduation rates, lowered dropout rates, and increased SAT and AP test participation. This effort involves every single person on Team HISD, but our principals work every day championing change and progress in our schools, and they deserve sincere thanks for all that they do.

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When we met on Wednesday, we talked about several ways the district is going to build on our momentum – by stepping up our recruitment and development efforts, by increasing rigor in the classroom, and by continuing to implement 21st century learning.

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Nothing is more important than having a great teacher in every classroom, and we’re focusing on hiring better teachers and doing everything we can to develop and reward the talent we already have. As for rigor in the classroom, it’s the foundation of everything we do — students need it, teachers want it, and parents know their children have got to have it to be successful in the future. We want our students to be engaged by great lesson plans and project-based learning, and a laser-like focus on rigor can help us get there.

In addition, HISD is moving forward rapidly in the transition to 21st century learning. We’re training teachers to effectively integrate laptops into their classrooms, because in the next few years, every HISD high school student is going to have one. After that, we plan to give students in grades 3-8 laptops as well, while every K-2 classroom will have at least 10 computers. We’re living in an increasingly high-tech world, and we have to equip our kids to both survive and thrive in it.

I’m thrilled we won the 2013 Broad Prize, but now I want to make sure we keep our standing as America’s top urban school district. I want to see HISD become the first district to win the prize three times, but getting there means continuing to improve what we’re doing.

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