Poor ratings for some HISD schools

August 6, 2010 2:56:55 PM PDT
If your child goes to one of HISD's schools, you may be concerned about the latest ratings from the federal government. They show the district failed to meet certain standards for the third year in a row and now changes are coming for some schools. HISD failed to make adequate progress toward standards created under the No Child Left Behind law. HISD insists the law calculates those standards unfairly, not accurately taking into account its eight percent special education population.

HISD officials says it failed to show adequate yearly progress of students because too many children took modified TAKS tests meant just for those with disabilities. Federal guidelines only allow three percent of a student population to take those tests, and district officials say about five and a half percent did.

Carla Stevens with HISD explained, "If we exceed three percent, which we did, then those kids in the accountability system are counted as artificial failures. Even though they passed their assessment, they are counted as failures, and it makes our passing rate lower."

About 91 percent of HISD campuses made adequate yearly progress. But 25 campuses, including Lee and Worthing high schools missed the same mark at least two years in a row and will face sanctions now, offering private tutoring or replacing teachers or principals. Some parents say it's frustrating that he district isn't doing better.

Mother Tina Sullivan said, "Yes, it's difficult to hear that they're not meeting the standards."

Sullivan says success is as much on the parents as the school. But she's glad to hear the district has plans to make things better.

HISD says it has identified 39 schools now where special education students performed the worst. They want to increase their improvement. It's ironic, some say, since the district just last week eliminated 100 special education positions. Special ed teachers who until now didn't know what might happen to their jobs, will be reassigned for the next year to those schools with lowest performing special ed students.

"We're looking to use their talents and their skills to assist students and schools that have a large population of kids with disabilities that are not able to meet standards," said HISD's Sowmya Kumar.

It is worth noting now that if HISD fails to make adequate gains for one more year, parents can then yank their students out of their home schools and put them in any other districts of their choosing, and transportation to those schools would be funded by HISD.


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