Annual Children At Risk school rankings show declines in many Houston area schools

The organization said many students are still behind because of the pandemic, and the state has yet to give additional funding to public schools.

Children at Risk President and CEO Bob Sanborn unveils the nonprofit's latest Growing Up In Houston report on March 28, 2023.
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media
FILE: Children at Risk President and CEO Bob Sanborn unveils the nonprofit’s latest Growing Up In Houston report on March 28, 2023.


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New rankings from Children at Risk show many schools in the Houston region took a step back in the past school year.

The non-profit determines the rankings based on STAAR test scores, growth from year to year, performances based on comparison of other schools with similar poverty levels, and for high school, college readiness.

Dr. Bob Sanborn, President and CEO of Children at Risk said on Houston Matters on Wednesday that this year's progress was not what they expected compared to the 2021-2022 rankings. He said the organization didn't see improvement, and in some cases, a plateau; in many cases, it dropped.

"We basically look at two things, maybe for the cause of that. There was a change in the STAAR test. That might've been part of that," he said. "But the two things that we are looking at: the pandemic is a big part of this. How are the kids emerging from the pandemic? We are absolutely seeing pandemic learning loss and kids having to spend a lot of time getting their lives back together. The second thing is our state legislature and our state leaders really in many ways did not pay attention to pandemic learning loss."

Texas lawmakers hit a record-breaking surplus of $33 billion to cover the state priorities. Sanborn says that it wasn't used in public education and that is a reason for the decline of results.

"We came into the last legislative session, a $33 billion surplus. They didn't spend it on public education at all. They didn't even really talk about pandemic learning loss," he said. "They even put off the idea of giving teachers raises."

Sanborn's solution to the results from the 2022-23 school year is a better-elected school board and superintendent.

"Do I wish we had a dually elected school board who has chosen some sort of superstar superintendent? Absolutely, but in the meantime, if we want to get our kids back on track, we have to try some different things."

For the past 19 years, this nonprofit has helped parents, educators, and the community understand how campuses are doing academically and where there needs to be improvement. The comprehensive report also includes the top public schools in the Greater Houston Area.

Carnegie Vanguard in Houston ISD was the number one ranked high school in the Houston area again, followed by Young Women’s College Prep Academy, Alief Early College High School, Eastwood Academy and Challenge Early College High School.

The greater Houston area has 1,311 public schools, including 786 elementary schools, 326 middle schools, and 199 high schools. The organization ranked its top five elementary, middle, and elementary schools.

The Children At Risk ratings are completely separate from the Texas Education Agency's school ratings. The remaining rankings are:

Top 5 Middle Schools

  1. TH Rogers – Houston ISD
  2. Mandarin Immersion Magnet School – Houston ISD
  3. Cornerstone Academy – Spring Branch ISD
  4. Briarmeadow Charter – Houston ISD
  5. Beckendorff JH – Katy ISD

Top 5 Elementary Schools

  1. Commonwealth Elementary – Fort Bend ISD
  2. Bess Campbell Elementary – Lamar CISD
  3. Stafford Stem Magnet Academy – Stafford ISD
  4. Griffin Elementary – Katy ISD
  5. TH Rogers – Houston ISD

Top Gold Ribbon Middle Schools

  1. Austin Middle School – Galveston ISD
  2. Edward Roberson Middle School – Spring ISD

Top 5 Gold Ribbon Elementary Schools

  1. Pleasantville Elementary – Houston ISD
  2. Nitsch Elementary – Klein ISD
  3. Reaves Elementary – Conroe ISD
  4. Moreno Elementary – Houston ISD
  5. Southside Elementary – Angleton ISD