Houston ISD Board Agenda Highlights 03.21.24

Houston ISD Agenda Highlights

This Thursday, the Houston ISD Board will host their regular monthly meeting. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Students at New Education System (NES) campuses have seen a slightly higher growth in reading and math than their peers at other campuses by middle of year in grades 3-8 and across most student groups. 

  • While this growth is promising, groups of students who face educational barriers experience stark achievement gaps in 3rd grade. We encourage deeper reflection on supports in pre-K through 2nd grade and a closer look at individual student groups.

  • The District remains highly focused on instructional quality with agenda items covering high quality instructional materials, teacher pipeline, and college and career readiness pathways.

Key agenda items we’re watching:

  • Student Outcome Monitoring – New Education System 3rd Grade Reading and Math: This month, the HISD school board will be monitoring the progress of 3rd grade reading and math outcomes for New Education System and Aligned campuses (NES/A) based on a nationally comparable assessment, NWEA MAP. These campuses have been targeted for intervention based on student need and the report reflects middle-of-year (MOY) results in each subject. 

All student groups showed growth by MOY and the District is currently on track to meet their end-of-year (EOY). This is the first year the District has used the MAP assessment, so this year will act as a baseline for comparison moving forward. 

Notably, while it is too soon to draw concrete conclusions from the data, NES/A campuses are showing slightly higher levels of growth in both reading and math for most groups of students. The supplemental data show this is true for grades 3 – 8. Given the historically low outcomes students at NES/A have faced compared to their peers, this initial trend is promising.

Sustaining higher levels of growth on NES/A campuses is critical to closing achievement gaps students of color and economically disadvantaged students face in HISD. A comparison of proficiency underscores the need to concentrate resources to support these populations of students. In 3rd grade reading, only 21% of Latino students and 29% of Black students are reading on grade level by MOY compared to 67% of their White peers. For 3rd grade math, only 25% of Latino students and 18% of Black students are meeting grade level compared to 65% of their White peers. 

The District plans to continue a focus on quality of instruction and high-quality materials. This has been echoed consistently in monitoring reports. We believe tying high quality instructional materials with rigorous professional development is a great foundation for instruction. Through the board discussion on Thursday, we hope to hear more specific information about how the District continues to develop these components and differentiate instruction for diverse student groups.

Worthy of closer look, students with disabilities continue to experience lower growth than all other student groups. Considering special education is one of the exit criteria for the state intervention, this is an area to watch. Upcoming monitoring reports will focus more closely on special education compliance and student outcomes. 

We do appreciate the District for including additional data and information about the need for student support before 3rd grade. Research shows the impact that pre-K can have for students who face educational barriers. The District plans to increase enrollment in pre-k and continue to ensure NES/A early education classrooms have low student-to-teacher ratios. We encourage the District to continue to provide this context and delve deeper into the support that is being provided in early education. 

    • State Board of Education Adopted Instructional Materials: The Board will consider granting authority for the District to select instructional materials for science, economics, and career and technical education from a list of materials approved by the State Board of Education. These materials have been compared to the state requirements for student learning to ensure they cover all of the content objectives. As the state works to refine the definition of high quality instructional materials, the District should continue to align their curriculum with these researched-backed best-practices.

    • Teach for America Partnership: The Board will consider renewing the District’s partnership with Teach for America (TFA). Across the Houston region, teacher turnover is at an alltime high. HISD must continue to prioritize pathways for effective educators. TFA has a long track record of recruiting and placing teachers in high-need positions and continuing this partnership will ensure HISD has access to this pipeline of educators.

    • Excused Absences for College and Career Visits: The District is updating their policy to provide students with additional opportunities to visit colleges and professional workplaces in line with new state law and HISD’s District of Innovation (DOI) plan. 

    • Healthcare Program of Study Practicum: The District is looking to partner with the HCA Women’s Hospital of Texas for a work-based practicum in health science. Students would receive clinical learning experience in hospital facilities as part of their program of study, which supports career readiness in the District.

    • Construction Maintenance Program of Study Practicum: The District is also looking to partner with Construction Maintenance Education Foundation to support students looking to obtain their National Center for Construction Education and Research certification, opening up another career-ready pathway for students.

    • March Budget Amendment: The Board will consider an amendment to the District budget. While the changes do not increase the overall budget, around $14.2 million dollars is being redistributed from instruction, instructional materials, and curriculum. Most of this is going to support instructional leadership. The District does have a history of storing funding in the instruction bucket only to move it later in the year. This funding appears to be staying focused on instruction, but we would like some additional insight into these changes. 


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