It's not a good report card state-wide. The number of failing schools, according to the TEA, has almost doubled in the last year. Then again, they're quick to point out that the ranking systems have changed.
Across the state, 892 schools are on the 2013 list, with 53 of those schools in HISD. By comparison, there were 456 schools statewide on the 2012 list.
The criteria used by the TEA involves an analysis of testing results, and whether schools meet the minimum standard for passing scores on those standardized tests.
HISD is the largest school district in the state, and students come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. School district administrators and board members say the schools are working to meet the challenge of getting all the students up to par.
"Is disappointment the correct word to use? I just think that the strategies that we've been using in the past may be not working the way that we thought they should be working," said newly elected HISD board member Wanda Adams. "We need to look at the testing overall, and look at our schools to see who has been low performing in the last two to three years."
Parent Jay Aiyer said, "I think HISD has some wonderful schools and is doing some wonderful things. I think any time you change the standards, you're going to have problems meeting those standards."
Aiyer has two kids in HISD schools, and still has full faith in the district. But both parents and school board members agree, a lot of work remains to be done.
"What they're trying to do is implement strategies to be able to put into those lower performing schools," Adams said. "But it's up to the principals as well to hire good and qualified teachers to bring up some of these schools."
Adams says a number of factors, including a large school district, and more rigorous stands, may contribute to having 53 schools on the list.
Students admit, there's no magic formula to turn those numbers around.
"It takes time and patience with children," said student Marsha Jordan. "That's all. That's basically what we need."
HISD issued the following statement:
The number of HISD schools on the recently released Public Education Grant list increased as a result of changes made to the state's school accountability ratings system. HISD is supportive of the new, higher accountability standards and is very committed to having all schools meet the state's standard. Aggressive interventions are well underway at those schools that were identified as falling short.
Elementary schools will be required to:
- Ensure students will receive at least 145 minutes of daily literacy instruction, nearly an hour more per day than the typical elementary school student receives.
- Implement specific, research-based reading and math interventions and dedicate time during the school day for students to receive the interventions.
- Send teachers and administrators to specialized professional development focused on increasing effectiveness of literacy instruction.
Secondary schools will be required to:
- Expand the current Secondary Reading Initiative from grades 6 and 9 to also include grades 7 and 10. Students reading below grade level will receive an extra class period in reading/English language arts.
- Implement specific, research-based reading and math interventions, including intensive tutoring.
- High schools will be required to offer a College Readiness Course to juniors and seniors.
- High schools must use the district Advanced Placement curriculum and send teachers to required training in four AP courses: English Literature and Composition, US History, World History, and Calculus.
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