CONTINUED FROM 1
Financial equity: Per-pupil spending, including Title I and grants
Student supports: Counseling, social/ emotional resources
WHAT WILL BE STUDIED? HOW WILL THE EQUITY PROJECT WORK?
PLANS FOR PROGRESS
APPROACHING EQUITY The Equity Project will attempt to marshall data and insights to guide the district’s short- and long-range strategies for closing educational gaps.
1. Researchers meet with HISD ocials. Specic research questions, data needs, and a theory of action will be developed to guide the use of study ndings.
2. Research briefs are compiled. Depending on the topic, research can include briefs, one- page summaries and presentations.
HISD HAS PROGRESSED The district has confronted inequities on several
The ndings on the rst few topics are expected to be released this fall. More will be released throughout the year with major completion by summer 2021. 3. The results of each study are shared publicly. Findings will be shared on the Equity Project’s website: www.houstonisd.org/equityproject .
fronts, from pre-K to college readiness and most recently COVID-19.
Ensuring that all students receive the resources, supports, and opportunities they need to achieve success in school, career, and life. SOURCE: HOUSTON ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
HOW IS HISD DEFINING ‘EQUITY’?
HISD looking toundoendemic inequalities outcome-based data that said, ‘OK, if I take this decision, this is what it’s going to achieve for my students.’” Inprogress BY MATT DULIN & HUNTER MARROW
ideally you have everyone thinking about it, and some- one who takes ownership at a high level to keep equity top of mind come budget season and other key decisions.” For example, the district could oer additional fund- ing for targeting equity goals, said Catherine Horn, the chair of the University of Houston’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. “The healthiest district eco- systems are those that create wonderful interactive eco- systems that have the most up-to-date information on what teachers and parents are experiencing,” Horn said. Ultimately, the data from the studies will inform mul- tiple strategies, Sung said. In the short term, the study will also attempt to address the eects of COVID-19. “Everyone wants the one thing—the quick x,” Sung said. “The reality is we need to do many things really well to make a dierence. ... If it was an easy solution, we would have done it already.” Acollectivecall HISD ocials also said they hope the study can prompt wider community participation. “We don’t want this just to be some obscure study. We want the community engaged,” Cruz said. The challenge will be gal- vanizing a vision for what
struggle to reach higher state ratings, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made economic gaps glaringly obvious. These mounting challenges have prompted the district’s Equity Project, a comprehen- sive eort to understand how it can meet the needs of stu- dents and improve outcomes. It was formally approved in February. The project will in some ways represent a culmina- tion of eorts with the Hous- ton Education Research Consortium, a longtime dis- trict collaborator based at Rice University, said Rick Cruz, HISD’s superintendent for strategy and innovation. The HERC has already conducted studies looking at closing edu- cational gaps. “What we want to do is bring it all together into a cohesive framework so we truly understand what needs to happen,” Cruz said. Theneed From racial and ethnic dis- parities to socioeconomic forces to special education needs, the district faces chal- lenges that exist throughout the state, only magnied. About 8 out of every 10 HISD students are econom- ically disadvantaged—eligi- ble for free or reduced-price lunch—far above the state
average of about 6 in 10. Put another way, all but 30 out of 280 schools have a majority of its students fac- ing economic disadvantages before they even enter the classroom. Despite receiving an over- all B rating under the state’s accountability system in 2018- 19, more than half of HISD students, including 60% of its high schoolers, attended a school rated C or lower. The district’s graduation rate also lags behind the state—about 85% compared to 92%. And even though the dis- trict has reduced the number of schools failing to meet state standards every year since 2012—thanks in large part to a program called Achieve 180—the performance of one school in 2019 put HISD in the throes of a possible state take- over. A lawsuit in response to the takeover is pending in an appeals court. On the campus level, school leaders struggle with charting the best course of action to address their students’ needs each year. “You would take decisions, budgetary or even otherwise, thinking that that’s what equity is,” said Jyoti Malhan, a former principal who is helping lead the equity proj- ect for the district. “But then there was no evidence or
For an hour, sometimes more, Ariel Batiste rode the bus to Lamar High School each morning. There, she had a packed schedule with International Baccalaureate courses, marching band and other after-school activities. Then she was back on the bus to her home in North Houston. “It was rough. …Therewere some 16-hour days,” Batiste said. “And my younger sister was with me. It was a family operation.” At Lamar, she was selected to apply to participate in Emerge, a college-readiness accelerator targeting students based on academic perfor- mance and economic status. Agraduate of Lamar, Batiste went on to get a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, and she is now attending Howard Uni- versity for a law degree. She is one of hundreds of students given a chance at life-chang- ing success through Emerge, which is one of a constellation of programs HISD has oered to deliver better outcomes for its students. But despite these eorts, thousands of students do not graduate high school in four or six years, half of its schools
At least 10 consortium researchers will work on the project, said Erin Baumgart- ner, the HERC’s associate director for HISD research and relations. The HERC’s previous research with HISD will be reviewed and compiled along with wholly new studies, Baumgartner said. The goal is to havemost of this work com- pleted by 2021, but the work will not stop there. “The study we’re doing right now is not the be-all and end-all,” she said. “It’s a start- ing point. We’re focusing on a handful of topic areas in the rst year while recognizing that this is something that’ll be going on past this year.” Findings for pre-K educa- tion will be among the rst to be released as part of the project, along with ndings on school discipline and a deep dive into the characteristics of teachers within the district. Turning reports into action- able plans in a decentralized school district, which grants autonomy to school principals, could prove to be a challenge. “Ideally, you set expecta- tions, provide resources and hold principals accountable for their outcomes,” HISD trustee Anne Sung said. “And
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
Powered by FlippingBook