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For over a year, the Houston Independent School District has been under the threat of a state takeover, and the release of the 2019 academic accountability ratings on August 15 have made a takeover increasingly likely. According to a 2015 state law, if a school has been on the “improvement required” list for five or more consecutive years, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has to either close the school or replace the district’s school board. HISD had four schools on the list going into the 2018-19 school year that could have triggered the takeover, and all but one - Whatley High School - recently came off the list. Now all eyes are on the TEA as they determine next steps. What would the potential state takeover mean for HISD, and what’s being done to support the students and teachers in these schools?
Though much of the focus has been on the four schools that may prompt the HISD takeover, there are 280 schools in HISD alone, and 900,000 students in Harris County. What’s more, according to local education nonprofit Good Reason Houston, 65 percent of jobs require some kind of education beyond high school, but only 21 percent of students in the area earn a postsecondary credential.
However, there are a number of efforts underway by the education, nonprofit and business communities to improve these numbers. What does the research and evidence say about the best school environment and tactics to enable student success, and how can we apply that to the reality on the ground, which often involves limited resources and budgets? What factors truly need to be in place in order to improve outcomes for all students and prepare them for the workforce - not just in struggling schools, but all across the area?
Many of the challenges these schools are facing are not unique to Houston, and various school improvement strategies have been tested throughout the country. Are there lessons from other cities facing similar issues that can be applied to Houston schools?
This panel will address the potential state takeover, and will also examine efforts throughout the area to give all students a quality education. We’ll look at some bright spots where improvement efforts have been successful, as well as what it takes to both help increase the quality of schools and support and engage students along the way.
This discussion will be featured in the “NBC News Learn Presents: Education Now” live event in Houston, TX on September 24. The full event will be livestreamed here - stay tuned for updates.