HISD superintendent says jobs of 117 principals were never threatened for low performance scores

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Monday, March 18, 2024
HISD says jobs of 117 principals were never threatened
HISD Superintendent Mike Miles held a press conference on Monday to provide an update about principals' performance scores.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Thousands of Houston ISD students are returning to class after spring break, and it comes amid uncertainty about some of the district's principals.

HISD Superintendent Mike Miles held a press conference Monday morning to provide an update about the principals' performance scores after 117 of them were reportedly told last week they could be fired if there's no improvement. That's nearly half of the district's principals.

However, during Monday's press conference, Miles said he never threatened the jobs of 117 HISD principals for underperforming school scores. Instead, he said the messaging was that the specific group of principals was told they needed to continue making progress. ABC13 learned that the message came through a meeting and via email, one Miles confirmed was an internal email leaked to the media.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Over 100 HISD principals at risk of losing jobs if they don't improve school performance scores

Superintendent Mike Miles sent a notice to over 100 principals in HISD, saying that they would be let go if their school's scores don't improve.

According to ABC13's partners at the Houston Chronicle, the names of the educators on the list range from those with years of experience to those who were newly hired by Miles.

According to documents obtained by the Chronicle, Miles made this correspondence after receiving the results of their mid-year proficiency screenings, which focuses on two things. "Quality of instruction" was determined by an independent review team that conducted classroom observations. "Student achievement" was based on mid-year Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and interim State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results.

An independent review will be happening in the coming weeks and it's expected that the principals that land in the bottom 10% of performance will likely not return next year.

Those notifications are expected to come in early May, but Miles reiterated that no principals were threatened with termination.

"By the way, we never used words like, 'They didn't make the cut. They failed. They better shape up. They've been put on notice.' We never said that - that's not in writing," Miles said on Monday. "One hundred and twenty-four are already above the proficiency bar and then the 117 are the ones who we said, 'You're making good progress. You need to continue to make progress.' That's it."

HISD shared a statement with the Chronicle that reads in-part:

"One hundred and twenty principals learned that they are making good progress and that if they continue to work hard, focus on strong instructional leadership, and demonstrate their ability to support student success, they will achieve the level of proficiency necessary to return in the next school year. We are confident most of our instructional leaders will meet our performance expectations and return to HISD in the 2024-2025 school year."

This comes after dozens of principals have already left the district since the state takeover of HISD due to resignation or termination. Ruth Kravetz, who leads Community Voices for Public Education, worries how the district will fill those vacancies if more principals leave.

RELATED: Principal firings and reassignments grow under HISD superintendent: 'The district is in upheaval'

Houston ISD has been firing and reassigning more principals than ever before under Superintendent Mike Miles. ABC13 dug into the data to find out why.

"When you replace principals over and over again, what you do is you reduce student graduation rates, you reduce student learning, you reduce student well-being, you reduce a child's belief that they can be successful in college career and life," Kravetz, who is a former HISD parent, teacher, and administrator said. "Principals are now afraid. Teachers are afraid. This is not the kind of environment that we want for our children."

Kravetz questions whether some of the principals may be facing retaliation for opting out of joining the district's new school reform program, New Education System (NES).

"Principals who are known by communities as extraordinary school leaders are being rated low for reasons that nobody understands," Kravetz said. "I think what Mike Miles is peddling is junk science. He's created a perverse principal evaluation system that nobody understands."

On Monday, Miles said the NES program was "on track, and running hard."

The superintendent emphasized there will be about 4,500 teacher positions available in the 130 NES schools planned for next year. "So far, 5,494 HISD teachers have signed up to be considered for those 4,500 positions," Miles said. "That's almost 1,000 more teachers signed up than we have positions for."

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