Making the grades
HOUSTON – The Houston School Board received a mid-year update on where each school in the district is on reaching goals and teaching students this school year.
Principals from the district’s five schools set goals at the beginning of the school year in an effort to bring Houston School up from the “D” rating it received from the state last summer.
“The administrators and teachers we have here right now are squeezing lemons in an effort to improve their schools,” said Dr. Steve Coker, Superintendent of Houston Schools. “Based on what they are doing if we don’t see improvement this year it’s not because we aren’t putting it out there for the students.”
Coker said he has been pleased with initial reports and feels progress is being made at all schools.
“The way things are shaping up I feel this will be one of our best academic years ever,” he added.
Each principal was given about five minutes to updates the board.
Houston High School
Principal Buz Boyer said his schools is using screeners in algebra, English and history to determine where students are failing and to pin point which students need additional help.
Boyer said high school teachers are assessing on a weekly basis how what they are teaching and testing students is similar to state testing.
“We are trying to identify those students who need help and then get them help to master that subject,” said Boyer. “I feel good about where we are but we won’t know exactly until July.”
Houston Middle School
Principal Tony Horton said his school’s goal is to be a Star School next summer.
“Every student is taking reading this year which is something we have not done before,” said Horton. “We also have our school open and offer tutoring to students from 7:30 to 8 a.m. every morning.”
Horton said teachers are being observed daily on an informal and formal basis to determine what is happening in the classroom.
“Our common assessment numbers, actual numbers, look promising,” said Horton.
Houston Upper Elementary
Principal John Ellison said his school’s Quality Distribution Index (QDI) was 187 in January and on track for the school’s goal for the year.
“We have implemented a number of incentives for our students to perform at a higher level,” said Ellison. “We are seeing results.”
Ellison said the school has also seen discipline referrals drop to an average of 2.5 a day.
Houston Lower Elementary
Principal Emily Speck said a new math program has brought about a lot of changes and teachers are adjusting to the new curriculum.
“We’re working with both staff and parents,” said Speck. “Our teachers are becoming more confident with this curriculum and I feel it will produce results.”
Speck said 72-percent of kindergarteners are reading at their grade level, with first graders at 90-percent and second graders at 83-percent. She said the goal is 85-percent.
Houston School of Science and Technology
Director Beverly James said the days of the old vo-tech center teaching students job skills are gone and have been replaced by courses that force students to work on academics.
“We have made our programs more accessible to students,” said James. “We also have opened it up so they earn academic credits. We also have courses that allow them to earn national certifications.”
James said students are also being urged to participate in more clubs and organizations and community service projects.
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