Houston, Texas (KTRK) – Recent test scores released by the Houston Independent School District (HISD) indicate signs of improvement, but a critical assessment from nonprofit organization Children at Risk suggests a drop in overall district performance during the last school year.
According to Children at Risk, over 75% of Houston Independent School District ranked lower last school year compared to the previous year. The nonprofit’s assessment considers various metrics, including student performance relative to the poverty level. Children at Risk President and CEO Bob Sanborn highlighted the impact of the pandemic and state legislature on this decline, particularly for low-income students.
Slow Growth of Kids Doing Better
“In the two decades of doing this, we’ve always seen slow growth of kids doing better and better, especially in those high-poverty areas. This year, it didn’t happen. So, there was more of a stop this year (and) more of a plateau. The pandemic was a part of that, but the other part of that is our state legislature,” said Sanborn.
The nonprofit’s findings raise concerns about the educational challenges faced by low-income students, who make up 70% of the Houston Independent School District student population.
Contrastingly, data from recent Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) exams shared by Houston Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles presents a more optimistic view. The NWEA results indicate that 60% of students at New Education System (NES) schools met their targets, with 55% meeting them at non-NES schools.
Superintendent Miles sees the positive test scores as evidence that the New Education System model is effective, emphasizing the success of both students and teachers.
“The headline for me and the staff is that the kids did great, and when kids do well, that means teachers stepped up. So, overall, the NWEA is a national test, so we did well above average for the nation’s NWEA scores,” stated Miles.
Houston Independent School District (HISD) touts improving scores, but performance dropped, nonprofit says
Need for Caution in Interpreting the Results
Despite the positive outlook, both Sanborn and Miles acknowledge the need for caution in interpreting the results. While celebrating the achievements of students and teachers, Miles emphasized that one set of data does not establish a trend and that there is still a long way to go in improving overall district performance.
“We’ve got a long way to go. A lot of celebrations for the kids and teachers this week, right, as a district. (But) we’ve got a long way to go,” said Miles.
The contrasting perspectives from Children at Risk and Houston Independent School District officials highlight the ongoing challenges in education, especially concerning the impact of external factors such as legislative decisions and the lingering effects of the pandemic on student performance.