HISD Test Scores Arrive With a Big But

Categories: Education

Let the spin begin.
The news that Houston ISD's number of exemplary schools dropped from 101 in 2010 to 59 in 2011, according to the Texas Education Agency's figures just released at 1 p.m. today, could only add more fuel to the fire of critics who are certain Superintendent Terry Grier is destroying HISD.

Except that if the now discarded and discredited Texas Projection Measure (a method of giving extra points to schools by predicting that certain kids who failed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills actually would pass in the next year) was removed from last year's results, and other new "accountability measures" were factored in, according to HISD, then in 2010 there were 46 HISD schools that were really exemplary.

Which would make this year -- at least in the exemplary category -- an improvement. And Terry Grier a hero (or at least not a complete goat)?

Elsewhere in the annual ratings, the number of HISD's academically recognized schools in 2011 was 106 (107 last year with the TPM), and academically acceptable increased to 79 (from 49 with TPM).

The number of academically unacceptable schools soared to 21 from last year's 7 -- but HISD's recalculation of last year's effort says it would have been 23 -- so hey, put another one in the win column.

Some of the schools in the highly financed turnaround project known as Apollo 20 were among the unacceptable: Jones and Kashmere high schools and Attucks and Ryan middle schools. Kashmere, in fact, made the state's list for the third year in a row and Jones for the second consecutive year.

In the upcoming 2011-12 school year, 11 elementaries will be added to the Apollo program: Blackshear, Davila, Frost, Grimes, Highland Heights, Isaacs, Kelso, Robinson, Scarborough, Tinsley and Walnut Bend.

Of these, Blackshear and Frost were judged academically unacceptable this year.

Other HISD schools judged academically unacceptable were Booker T. Washington, Wheatley, Worthing and Yates high schools. Among the middle schools: Woodson, Smith Education Center, Harper Alternative and Texas Connections Academy. And at the elementary level: Bonham, Woodrow Wilson Montessori, E.O. Smith, Gregory-Lincoln, Garcia, Dominion Academy and Kandy (with a K! really?) Stripe Academy. Four of the district's alternative schools were judged academically unacceptable: Pro Vision School, Contemporary Learning Center, Vision Academy and HS Ahead Academy.

In a press release today, HISD pointed out that districts across the state saw a drop in their ratings. Other factors were a 5-point increase in the minimum needed to pass the math and science exams for a school to be rated academically acceptable.

Also, a school has "to have at least 25 percent of all students and 25 percent of all economically disadvantaged students reach the TAKS 'commended' level in order to be rated exemplary, or at least 15 percent for a 'recognized' rating."

Another, much harped upon major factor is that for the first time the scores of special education students are factored in.

Grier issued this statement: "HISD principals and teachers helped students throughout the district make great strides last school year, and we celebrate that today. But we will not be satisfied until all children attending all Houston schools are achieving at the highest levels. It is unacceptable for Houston to have any unacceptable schools. As Houston schools rise to meet our ambitious, but attainable, goal of preparing every child for college and a meaningful career, it's more critical than ever that we follow through on our promise to give every child a great teacher and a school led by a quality principal."

Overall, HISD received an Academically Acceptable rating with 91 percent of its schools avoiding the unacceptable tag.

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Why is a school like Walnut Bend, rated recognized, becoming an Apollo school?  It seems like there are a lot of schools in much worse shape in need of the extra resources.

Anthony Smith
Anthony Smith

It's unfortunate that HISD's $10 million P.R. department is playing this trick from their deck. Yes, things look good in never-never land where reality is anything we want it to be. Strip away TPM from last year's results then compare where the district is. For all the havoc, threats, repopulating of schools involving both teachers and students, and unpaid debt Grier made by taking money out of general funds to support his Apollo experiment, HISD had to produce stellar results. The 2011 accountability results reveal a more desperate picture. In the real world, TPM cannot be used because it no longer exists. Perhaps HISD should ask its teachers why they think scores turned out as they did - asking the question, of course, and not threatening rebuke and termination to those who tell the truth. That would be something new in the Grier regime. www.houstonisdwatch.com

A mouthful to digest
A mouthful to digest

  I have to say that I was quite pleased with our school's performance when you factor in all the student categories that are factored in this year and take into account there is no TPM.   Since I am new to teaching (9 years) compared to many of my colleagues I have always been confused as to why all students were not counted in the past. Are we not in the business to educate all students? I still have reservations when I look at schools that have high minority populations, but the numbers of students taking the tests are much lower than those attending those grade levels. It would be interesting to look at these numbers. Let let the record be known. If we are to truly use these numbers to rate teachers then we need to make sure it is an even playing field and also if we use this to determine funding we need to have as accurate as possible data.   As far as who receives credit, make sure we do not forget who is acutally in the classroom. If teachers are to held accountable for the things that can go wrong make sure they get credit when things go right.   I do belive that if administration is behind doing their part in supporting teachers then there will be improvement using the new evaluation process. But that includes making sure students follow rules that are in place to allow teachers to do there jobs. How many schools have problems with tardies, attendance, distractions from electronic devices, etc. that teachers cannot control/    One last note on the data used- please make sure all teachers are made aware of how the data will be used. I honestly believe the district has not done as well of a job as central administration believes it has. Poll the teachers and listen to their comments. I for one am very capable of "crunching the numbers'. The problem is that I do not know which numbers to look at. An example- Stanford tests from last year. We gave the test in October instead of the spring. My school and many other school gave the test in one day instead of two. This did not allow for the extra time that HISD mandates students may have for each test. So if the test scores will be used, how are they valid and how you rate one school versus another if they did not follow the same rules. Can you believe my teachers told me I use run on sentences?

Marcus Ran
Marcus Ran

thag Texas connections academy is the virtual school aimed at replacing traditional schools. My daughter went there last year and though a few of the teachers were good (not great) I can tell you principal lockhard is unethical and lies to families without hesitation. Dr. Grief is doing a good job, but he needs to get a handle on the quality of the charter schools.


Will Terry Grier and Paula Harris accept responsibility for destroying Attucks Middle School?Last summer, they drove off about a dozen successful veteran teachers. This year, the new principal, Pat Brown, harassed the remaining veteran teachers into transfers or retirements.Irony of ironies : Attucks dropped in all five major testing categories. Principal Brown resigned and the school will have three new administrators on campus for the 2011-2012 school year.In essence, the students lost an entire year of instruction while Grier and others tried to figure out just where in the heck things went wrong. Students shoud not be treated like lab rats, but I blame the parents as much as I blame Grier and the board. This is just one school - what are the stories on the other campuses?


She is terrier! She does lis, beware.

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