Incredible Things Are Happening In HISD

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 8/18/2017, 8 a.m.
“I am proud to report that HISD continues to make academic progress district wide,” said a pleased Houston ISD Superintendent ...
Houston ISD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza surround by school principals and board trustees

“I am proud to report that HISD continues to make academic progress district wide,” said a pleased Houston ISD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza as he bragged on the district that has been under his administration for the last 12 months. The Texas Education Agency (TEA), a branch of the state government responsible for overseeing public education, recently released their accountability ratings for school campuses for the 2016-2017 school year and Houston ISD scored well. In fact, Houston ISD had its highest ratings in the last five years with 90% of all campuses meeting on exceeding the state’s minimum requirements. This is significant since TEA’s revamped the accountability system with a stricter, rising bar scale.

In their evaluation of Houston ISD, TEA looked at the success rate of students on the STAAR test, students’ progress with each grade level, closing performance gaps, and postsecondary readiness. Carranza was most proud of the 18 schools that improved to the point that they were no longer on the “improvement requirement” list, but were now on the “met standard” list, many of which that had the IR designation for several years. During the district recent press conference, Kashmere Gardens Elementary School principal Reginald Bush said he was able to turn things around at his school with his team by focusing on three fundamental principles – believing in children, eliminating every excuse, and staying laser focused. The later of three seems to be a repeating universal theme throughout the district.

 Reginald Bush, principal at Kashmere Gardens Elementary School

Reginald Bush, principal at Kashmere Gardens Elementary School

Carranza echoed the “laser focus” mantra when speaking about the ten schools still in danger of being taken over by the state for their low performance ratings. He is confident that those schools will remain under Houston ISD control. “The Board of Education and this administration is laser focus on providing the supports, the resources, the capacity building through an equity lens to ensure that those ten campuses will not have to face the sanctions under HB 1842,” said Carranza. And he can back that up since last year the district had 38 campuses listed under the IR rating and this year only has 27 campuses listed as IR.

A consist and steady pace of improvement is the goal of Superintendent Carranza and Team HISD. He laid out his plan for the new school year to HISD administrators that included two bold initiatives called Every Community, Every School and Achieve 180. According to the district’s website, Every Community, Every School, will connect schools with community resources and wraparound services. With the support from the city of Houston and the Houston Endowment, Houston ISD will address students’ nonacademic needs such as mental and physical health, food insecurity, lack of stable housing, violence, incarceration of a parent and a host of other challenges that could prevent students from doing well in the classroom. The program will be launched in phases with twenty-four schools being part of the initial group. Achieve 180 is a research-based action plan to serve the district’s underserved and underperforming schools. Under this program, the best practices of successful schools would be incorporated into the plans of underserved and underperforming schools to increase student performance and teaching excellence among other variables under a six pillar plan.

Both initiatives feed directly into the sense of team spirit and family with the belief that it takes everyone and every entity to help a child succeed. And Houston ISD is not holding back on their support or resources for students, teachers, or any one person needing assistance on Team HISD.

Special education and a new secondary disciplinary alternative education program will also go into effect this school year. “This will be a transformative year in terms of how we meet the needs of our students, especially for our special education students,” Carranza said.

Houston ISD has a lot to be proud of but still has a lot on their plate to continue to be the best of the best. Superintendent Carranza has an action plan and willing team to implement it to continue to make incredible things happen for Houston ISD.