Gates Foundation Helps HISD Fund New Data System

A $4.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help the Houston School District implement and use a new data-collection system that will track student progress. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams has the story.

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The grant will be spread out over three years and will help the district train teachers and staff on how to use the ASPIRE system, a way for HISD to measure learning growth over a period of time. Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra says the system is a new way to use data to improve student performance.

"Our new APSIRE system will help us to measure how every single child grows academically every single year, from year to year. With this amazing new data from our value-added system, we will be able to see which kids are really excelling and need to be challenged even more and which students are in danger of not doing well enough and need some intervention."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest in the world, with an endowment of close to $35 billion. Steve Seleznow is the program director for education with the Gates Foundation and says Houston was a perfect fit for the grant.

"Houston has always been seen as a city willing to push the edges of change and to lead the nation in education reform. This is another case where Houston is a leader in this nation about improving the performance of all kids. Houston being one of the largest and most important school districts in the country and certainly in Texas was a great place for our staff to come and our foundation to be a partner."ξξξξ

With the new ASPIRE system, HISD will harvest data from the TAKS and Stanford tests and compile reports that show precisely how much each student has improved over a period of time. Carla Stevens is HISD's Assistant Superintendent for Research and Accountability.

"We can show on this in a real simple way using a stoplight system of green, yellow and red the type of growth that the students are getting on the TAKS and or the Stanford test compared to the growth or the expected growth for those students based on a state standard. This is a really powerful tool and it gives us a lot more information than just the standards that we have that shows the growth students are making across time and across subjects."ξξξ

You can find out more about ASPIRE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through a link on our website, KUHF.org.

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