New Houston ISD Superintendent evaluates first day of school for the district

On this first day of school for Houston ISD, it’s also the first time for school to be in session under the state takeover. With the new leadership, teachers were instructed to begin teaching on the first day and that's exactly what happened.   

"We need 185 student-teacher contact days of good quality instruction to close the achievement gap," explains HISD Superintendent Mike Miles.

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HISD now has a state appointed Superintendent and Board of Managers, and they have put a few changes in place. For instance, students started learning on this first day of school, which included instruction from the new teaching model at HISD’s New Eductiation System schools.

"Students get direct instruction for 45 minutes. Then they take a quick mini-quiz for 10 minutes. We call it a demonstration of learning. Then they get separated into different groups," Miles says.

Students will take that mini-quiz daily and those who need more instruction remain in the classroom while those who grasp what’s being taught will continue learning in the team center.     

Teachers will also have to get used to new rules. 

"We have to teach with our doors open, and I feel that’s kind of like a safety concern because I usually have my door closed and locked," says HISD middle school teacher Norberto Gracia.

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Most parents we spoke with say state appointed or locally elected their top priority is, "We want everything to be safe," says Aracely Duarte.          

Superintendent Miles says he believes schools will be safer with classroom doors open. He says enrollment is up this year to 186,400 students compared to 184,000 last year.

HISD is beginning the school year fully staffed with teachers, transportation workers, and HISD police officers. Although, Miles says they plan to hire even more officers.

About 130 staff members from HISD headquarters have been moved into schools to work as support staff.    

All principals will have the same evaluation system that requires them to be in classrooms providing instructional feedback and coaching. There are also Teacher Apprentices for the NES schools, one for every 100 kids and there are learning coaches, one for every 75 students.

"We are doing a staff audit over the next month of every school to make sure we got the staffing right. Today is not the finish line, it’s the starting line…and our starting point looks pretty solid," says Miles, who says there were a few snags on the first day back to school including 91 buildings with mechanical issues, such as air conditioning units in need of repair. 50 technicians began working on the issues at 4 a.m. to service the schools and get everything running properly again.

40 buses, out of 517, dropped kids off at school late, but overall Superintendent Miles says he gives the first day an A-.