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Posts under ‘School days’

Two truths about testing

Lisa Falkenberg boils it down. While there’s no doubt standardized tests are an important part of student assessment, somewhere along the way, they became too important. We’ve tethered them to everything from student promotion to teacher pay to school reputation. And it’s not just the test days that take away from meaningful learning but the […]

SBOE does something OK

I know, I’m as surprised as you are. Instead of making Mexican-American studies an official high school course, the Texas State Board of Education has settled on a tentative compromise that would allow school districts to decide whether to offer the course. “It wasn’t necessarily what we were hoping, with a stand-alone course for Mexican-American […]

HISD board votes for Mexican-American studies class

You would think this wouldn’t be a big deal. The Houston school board, representing the largest district in Texas, threw its support Thursday behind the creation of a Mexican-American studies course in Texas public schools. The 9-0 vote followed some debate over whether the district would appear to be favoring one culture over another. “Unanimous […]

The new North Forest High School

I’m really rooting for them to succeed. It’s not going to be easy. While most schools measure progress by test scores and scholarship dollars, North Forest High School students point to the lack of bathroom fires as a sign that their campus is improving. They also boast that they now have access to soap, toilet […]

Calculator apps

This seems reasonable to me. Despite concerns about test security, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced Thursday that he would allow some students to use calculator “apps” on state exams next school year. Under current rules students may use only traditional calculators. But with more districts giving students iPads or other tablets, some school officials […]

Makeup days

Sorry, kids. Houston area schools are facing possible cuts in state funding, and a bruising in the court of public opinion, by making up days missed earlier this year because of icy roads. With little fat built into the spring school calendar and several days of mandatory state testing, Houston schools have little choice but […]

Let them sleep

Jilly Dos Santos is a hero to teenagers everywhere. Jilly Dos Santos really did try to get to school on time. She set three successive alarms on her phone. Skipped breakfast. Hastily applied makeup while her fuming father drove. But last year she rarely made it into the frantic scrum at the doors of Rock […]

Dodson to be closed, Jones to be revamped

In the end, only one school was closed by HISD, but a lot of people are still upset about the whole thing. During a rowdy meeting where police had to quiet shouting protestors, the Houston school board narrowly agreed Thursday to close Dodson Elementary but accepted a compromise plan that would turn the long-struggling Jones […]

Last stand against school closures

Last chance, too. Community activists called Tuesday for HISD to spare two schools from closure in a last-ditch effort that included filing a federal civil-rights complaint alleging racial discrimination. Charles X. White, president of the city’s South Park Super Neighborhood group, said he had asked federal authorities to investigate HISD’s proposal to close schools in […]

Three of five schools escape closure

For now, at least. The other two are still on the block. Three small schools will be spared from closure at the urging of Houston school board president Juliet Stipeche, but Jones High and Dodson Elementary remain on the potential chopping block. Facing mounting community pressure against Superintendent Terry Grier’s closure proposal, Stipeche eliminated Fleming […]

The state of HISD

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier assesses the district in his State of the Schools address. While not mentioning the closure controversy Wednesday, Grier touted the district’s progress – being named the nation’s top urban school district in 2013, for example – while conceding he has more work to do in the two years left on his […]

On schools and neighborhoods

Efforts to revitalize neighborhoods in the Fifth Ward are running into HISD’s proposal to close five schools. Nearly half the students who attend Nathaniel Q. Henderson Elementary School live steps away from campus in an aging, rundown apartment complex. The neighborhood, in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward, is at a crossroads. The city is seeking a […]

Help HISD review its design plans

HISD would like your input in determining the designs for the schools to be built or rebuilt with the 2012 bond money. The Houston Independent School District is hosting another series of community meetings for the first 17 schools slated for construction in the 2012 bond program to give participants a chance to review designs […]

Tracking diplomas

From the Texas Tribune: Among young Texans who started eighth grade in 2001, less than one-fifth went on to earn a higher education credential within six years of their high school graduation. And rates were even lower among African-American and Hispanic students and those who were economically disadvantaged, according to data analyzed by two state […]

HISD gets more diverse

Which in this case means it’s getting a little whiter. After decades of free fall, Houston ISD’s white enrollment is inching upward, suggesting that more families with the resources to choose are selecting Houston public schools. Enrollment of non-Hispanic white students in the Houston Independent School District bottomed out in 2010 at 15,340 students, or […]

Lots of pushback on HISD’s school closure proposal

People don’t like it when schools get closed. With the temperature near freezing, Maria Salazar bundled her three young children in jackets on Tuesday and walked them eight blocks to Port Houston Elementary School. She dropped off Joaquin, 7, and Arianna, 5, and then hiked home with her 2-year-old son on her hip. She doesn’t […]

KIPP departs Galveston

I have two things to say about this. The popular KIPP charter school chain is pulling out of Galveston, where it operates two campuses with about 900 students combined under a contract with the school district. Because of statewide school funding cuts, Galveston ISD superintendent Larry Nichols said, the district has dipped into savings over […]

HISD on HB5

Good information on the changes made to school curricula and graduation requirements. With most details of the state’s new reform of public education – known as House Bill 5 – settled only last week, HISD is ready with a multimedia toolbox to assist students, families, and support staff in making the most of the guidelines […]

HISD proposes closing five schools

Not sure about this. Houston ISD officials are proposing to close five small schools at the end of this academic year, a move likely to set off protests from parents and alumni. Some on the school board – which ultimately must approve the plan – already are expressing concerns about the closures, which would affect […]

School districts deal with ACA paperwork

The headline for this story says that Texas school districts are “struggling” to deal with requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but there’s not much evidence of actual struggles in the story itself. Texas school districts are scrambling to meet an Affordable Care Act provision that requires them to offer health insurance to thousands of […]

Teaching creationism in Texas

Zack Kopplin reports on some unconstitutional behavior by a national charter school operator that has several campuses in Texas. When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is “sketchy.” That evolution is “dogma” and an “unproved theory” with no experimental basis. They will […]

HISD gives final approval to revised mascot/nickname policy

That’s that. Four HISD campuses will have to adopt new mascots after the school board gave final approval Thursday to a policy banning certain nicknames, such as the Redskins. The proposal from Superintendent Terry Grier drew some debate among students, alumni and community members, but the change puts the school district in line with others […]

Rolling out the laptops

I look forward to seeing how this goes. Tens of thousands of local students will receive taxpayer-funded laptops or tablets this month as the Houston and Clear Creek school districts join the national movement toward digital education. School leaders say dispatching the devices can help bridge the gap between rich and poor families and lead […]

New accountability standards, more schools on the failing list

Not a good headline. The number of officially faltering public schools in Texas almost doubled last year, in part because of higher accountability standards imposed by state education policy. The Texas Education Agency released Thursday a list of 892 schools that fell short of minimum standards and which have been placed on the Public Education […]

The Marshall legacy

The Chron has a story that looks back on the long career of outgoing HISD Trustee Larry Marshall. No question, Marshall was a star as an educator, and left an indelible mark on HISD thanks to the well-regarded magnet school program that he helped create. He should be riding off into the sunset amid hosannas […]

What can we do to improve reading skills in HISD?

I wish I knew. HISD students continue to struggle with reading while matching or exceeding their peers’ math performance in other big cities, according to national test data released Wednesday. Reading scores for the district’s fourth- and eighth-graders have stagnated for six years. In math, however, the middle-school results have improved over time, and HISD […]

Grier editorializes for HISD policy change on school mascots and nicknames

Here’s HISD Superintendent Terry Grier’s op-ed in the Chron about the likely forthcoming change in HISD policy on school mascots and nicknames. HISD must retire, respectfully, school symbols that no longer reflect the values of who we are – proudly diverse, inclusive, forward-thinking and committed to instilling character and social awareness in our youngsters. The […]

Rest of Larry Marshall lawsuit dismissed

That’s that. The three-year legal drama involving HISD trustee Larry Marshall has ended after a federal judge again ruled against a construction contractor alleging it was harmed by a bribery scheme. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison agreed last week to dismiss two companies being sued along with Marshall. The decision essentially closes the case, barring […]

SBOE backs down on Algebra 2

So much for that. Only high school students who pursue an honors plan or a diploma specializing in math and science will have to take algebra II under recommendations that the Texas State Board of Education preliminarily approved Thursday. Despite an initial proposal that had included the advanced math course in all five new diploma […]

Federal lawsuit against HISD and Trustee Larry Marshall dismissed

Good, I guess. A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a three-year-old bribery lawsuit against the Houston school district and trustee Larry Marshall, ending the prospect of a high-profile jury trial. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled in part that the construction contractor that sued lacked standing because the company did not prove it suffered financially. […]

Are we going to require Algebra 2 or not?

Apparently, despite what happened in the last Legislature, it’s still an open question. The State Board of Education has proposed toughening high school graduation requirements despite the Legislature’s clear intent last spring to provide more flexibility. The board’s draft plan – up for debate and a preliminary vote this week – would require most students […]

More on the Fort Bend ISD iPad failure

The Observer presents a good overview of the disastrous iPad experiment at the Fort Bend Independent School District. An audit of Fort Bend ISD’s iAchieve program released last month, details the ways the effort was cursed. (You can read the report below.) In short, Fort Bend ISD expected too much from its program too soon. It […]

Magnet reprieve

This was unexpected. HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has reversed course and decided to give 20 struggling magnet programs another year before eliminating all their extra funding. The sudden switch from the plan he unveiled last month comes after some parents and school officials expressed surprise their programs were on the chopping block. Under Grier’s new […]

Mostly good news for Apollo

That’s the story so far. A three-year, multimillion-dollar experiment to improve 20 struggling HISD schools yielded big gains in math and limited progress in reading, according to partial results of a study released Wednesday. Now, Superintendent Terry Grier and the school board face decisions over what, if any, changes to make to the district’s nationally […]