With 10 Failing Schools, Houston ISD Works To Avoid The State’s ‘Nuclear Option’

Tough school accountability rules recently passed by the legislature mean Houston ISD must quickly bring underperforming schools up to state standards or face their closure.

By Jill AmentAugust 17, 2017 1:13 pm, , ,

The state has issued its annual report card for public schools, giving each one of two grades: “Met Standard” or “Improvement Required.” The state says some 95 percent of school districts and charter schools across Texas received a Met Standard rating. The number of schools receiving Improvement Required ratings is on the decline.

Laura Isensee, who covers education for Houston Public Media, says the grades only tell part of the story. Despite the high number of schools with passing grades, Houston ISD also has a number of “chronically failing” schools, which are at risk for being shut down. Local, elected school boards could also be replaced.

A law passed during the 2015 legislative session gives failing schools a short timeline for making required changes.

“If a school has missed those state standards for five or more years, it triggers either those schools shutting down, or the Texas Education Commissioner puts in a board of managers,” Isensee says.

In Houston, 10 schools must achieve a passing rating from the state next year, or they face state sanctions.

Isensee says Houston ISD officials are working to support the troubled schools by adding staff as well as community assistance for students living in poverty or with health issues.

Most of the poorly performing schools in Houston are in high-poverty areas.

Isensee says Houston ISD officials see the possibility of the state stepping in as troubling, and that it likely wouldn’t bring positive changes to the schools that are failing. They refer to it as the “nuclear option.”


Written by Shelly Brisbin.