Houston ISD Agenda Highlights

November 9, 2023

This Thursday, the HISD Board of Managers will host their regular monthly meeting. Here are the key agenda items to watch for:

  • Board Goals and Constraints: The HISD Board of Managers has been engaged in a months-long process for setting five year goals and constraints for the district. They are posted to consider the adoption of these goals to policy. Setting appropriate student outcome goals for the district is one of the most critical jobs of a school board. The National School Board Association has identified characteristics of effective school boards. Notably, several of these identified traits align with the goal setting process, including:
  1. high expectations for student achievement

  2. a shared belief that all students, regardless of circumstances, can achieve at high levels, if provided the right support;

  3. an accountability-driven mindset; and

  4. a public focus on monitoring student outcome data.

Overall, the proposed goals the board has discussed at their November 2 and October 19 workshops are ambitious, equitable, and student focused. Houston GPS has provided specific recommendations to the Board of Managers, which you can read in full on our blog. We look forward to the adoption of strong board goals and upcoming student outcome monitoring.

  • Teacher Pipeline: The Board of Managers will consider authorizing partnerships with Texas institutions of higher education to continue HISD’s student teacher placements. This is one of many methods HISD can continue to utilize to build a strong pipeline of highly effective educators. School districts in the greater Houston area are struggling now more than ever with recruiting and retaining educators, making partnerships to support future educators critical.
  • Class Size Waivers: Each year the board must approve any class size waivers required for grades pre-K through 4. Historically, HISD has sought waivers each year and this agenda item includes a detailed breakdown of those waivers over time and by campus. 


Considering the importance of appropriate class sizes in early education, an important part of this presentation to note is the average number of students for classes where HISD is seeking a waiver. The standard size for early education classrooms is a 22:1 student-teacher ratio. The data provided show that on average, waiver classrooms do not exceed a 25:1 ratio. 


Also worthy of noting, HISD is in the process of seeking District of Innovation status, which allows the district to exempt itself from certain state policies. A current draft of the plan is currently being considered by the District Advisory Committee. One of the exemptions included is for class size, which would not only reduce the administrative burden of seeking individual waivers each year, but also put clear limits on the maximum student-teacher ratio. This would ensure the district could not exceed specific rations per grade level for any individual classroom and set a bright line standard. Individual waivers through the TEA do not have this limit.


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