Backed by a cohort of Houston ISD principals who were able to get their schools off the state’s Improvement Required list, superintendent Richard Carranza headed up a press conference Tuesday, assuring the media and staff members that this kind of turnaround can and will be done by others.
And now they have until August 15 of next year to see if he’s right.
As expected, the Texas Education Agency released its accountability ratings Tuesday for the 2016-17 school year and ten of HISD’s schools (HISD had a total of 27 schools with the IR tag this go round as compared to 38 last year) have been stuck on the Improvement Required list for four years or longer. At five years a state law (House Bill 1842) kicks in that authorizes TEA to shut down the schools or bring in its own board of managers to run things – and booting the elected school board in the process.
Trustees Anne Sung and Holly Villaseca were on hand to signal their determination that with plans already in place, HISD should be able reverse course in the ten schools that will be on the chopping block next year if by August 15, 2018 they aren’t off the state’s bad list.
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The schools on the countdown include: Blackshear Elementary, Dogan Elementary, Highland Heights Elementary, Mading Elementary, Wesley Elementary, Woodson PK-8, Henry Middle School, Kashmere High, Wheatley High and Worthing High.
Carraza remained upbeat, a self-described glass half full kind of guy. He pointed out that "90 percent of our campuses in HISD have met or exceeded the state's standards. That is the highest percentage of HISD schools in the last five years." And later: "Twenty-one of our schools exited IR."
He also said that several schools just missed making standards. "In a number of these that are in IR they missed making the academic mark by points, literally by one number."
At the same time that HISD is trying to avoid at state takeover of schools with some of its poorest students, the district is having to return $162 million to the state in recapture funds because Texas has declared Houston a property-rich district, despite the widespread need of many of its students, Carranza said.