HISD makes the grade - What's Your Point?

Houston Independent School District has met the state's accountability standard, according to new rankings released on Wednesday by the Texas Education Agency. Houston ISD also had the least amount of schools that received an "Improvement Required" rating since 2012. 

With this new ranking, not only will HISD avoid state sanctions, but the district's locally-elected school board will not be replaced by the TEA. Campuses that failed to meet state academic standards will also not be closed. 

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and her colleagues are celebrating after the rankings released by the TEA revealed 251 campuses, 91 percent of the district's schools, met the state's standards during the last school year.

A total of 275 campuses in HISD were rated in the 2017-2018 school year. In the last three years, HISD has reduced the amount of campuses labeled "Improvement Required (IR)" from 58 to seven. 

HISD Board of Education president Rhonda Skillern-Jones said it's a significant stride, especially considering the district's size. 

"The magnitude of 91 percent of 281 schools should not go unaddressed," said Jones during a news conference on Wednesday. 

The rankings are part of the new TEA accountability rating system, which grades a school district's academic performance on an "A through F" letter grade system.

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath said the system is familiar and easy for all parents to understand. 

"This is clearly the fairest accountability system in the history of the state of Texas, in terms of giving districts the credit for school progress or student achievement, which has never been done before," said Morath. 

The TEA issues grades based on the following three criteria:

  • student achievement
  • school progress 
  • closing performance gaps

The calculation behind the letter grades are complicated. 70 percent is based on 'Student Achievement' and 'School Progress,' which is how well students in the district perform on the state's standardized STAAR test, and their improvement year to year. 

How prepared students are for college, the military or their future careers is also taken into consideration, as well as a district's graduation rates. 

Thirty percent is based on how well a district "Closes Performance Gaps" that could affect students' learning, such as disability, income and race. 

In years past, Texas went by a pass or fail system, but the new TEA new accountability system has left many school districts like HISD with questions. 

"We have concerns as it relates to utilizing one test, one day in time, one moment in time, to rate our schools because you don't know the true story of a campus," said Lathan. 

HISD was one of several school districts in Texas that did not receive an official ranking due to Hurricane Harvey exemptions. However, if it were ranked, Jones said the district would have received a "B" rating this year, according to data calculations. 

Individual schools in Texas were still ranked on "Met Standard" or "Improvement Required" this year, but will begin receiving letter grades starting August of 2019. 

For a list of Texas Education Agency ratings by southeast Texas county and district, visit https://t.co/cZHAQu3r4k.