Houston ISD dropout rate hits historic low
According to the Texas Education Agency, new records for graduation and dropout rates have been achieved by the Houston Independent School District.
The district's latest dropout rate of 11.8 percent and four-year graduation rate of 78.5 percent are the highest achieved by the district under Texas’ accountability system, established in 2007. Annual graduation rates for the district rose from 6,978 graduates in 2007 to 9,070 graduates in 2011, a 30 percent increase in four years.
“Houston students are proving they are willing, and more than able, to achieve academically when we show faith in them and put them in a position to succeed,” said Michael Lunceford, trustee and president of the HISD Board of Education, in a press release. “We all know the dropout rate remains a critical problem in our city, but we are making strong progress. The students, with help from the school administrators and teachers, have made a concerted effort to stem the tide of dropouts.”
The graduation rate increase coincides with HISD’s launch of Grad Labs in January 2010. The computer-based credit recovery initiative allows students who have fallen behind academically make up courses at their own pace under the guidance of graduation coaches. Nearly 20 percent of HISD’s 2011 graduates took a course through Grad Labs.
“The board of education and administration come up with the initiatives to drive student achievement,” Terry Grier, HISD superintendent, said in the press release. “But it takes strong professional educators in the schools and classrooms to make these plans work and produce the kinds of results we are seeing in HISD.”
Other initiatives by the district to reduce the dropout rate include Dropout Recovery, Intervention and Prevention committees, student case workers assigned to specific at-risk students and computer-generated Dropout Prevention Early Warning reports using student data to alert schools when students exhibit risk factors that could lead to becoming dropouts.
HISD teachers at all grade levels have also received training on literacy intervention strategies. Starting this fall, sixth- and ninth-grade students reading below grade level will receive an extra daily class period of reading instruction using a specially designed curriculum.
The district's academic performance led to it being named among only four national finalists for the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The winning district will be announced in October.
For more information on the district and its program, visit houstonisd.org.
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