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Education News

School Rankings Show Gap In Houston Between Educational ‘Haves’ And ‘Have-Nots’

Children at Risk’s new report reveals few Houston ISD schools get a “C” grade: most are doing either well or poorly.


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Bob Sanborn
Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk

The report from the advocacy group Children at Risk began with high schools in the Houston region, but now assesses every school in the state. Schools are ranked in the elementary, middle and high school categories, and each one gets a letter grade, A through F.  The assessment takes into account test scores, graduation rates, and year-to-year progress. Demographics are also taken into consideration, which allows a school in a high-poverty area to earn a good grade if it’s improving overall compared to similarly-situated schools.

Bob Sanborn, the president and CEO of Children at Risk, said what’s important about the data are the trends. In Houston ISD, for example, he sees a big divide between clusters of good and bad schools.

“Forty-two percent of Houston ISD students go to an A or B school, 42 percent go to a D or F school and about 16 percent are at a C school,” he explained.

Sanborn said that reflects the income inequality of the city overall.

Many of the worst schools in Houston are in high-poverty neighborhoods that lack the resources found in more affluent areas, he added.

“You want to be able to think that any time you send a kid to our public schools, great thing are going to happen,” Sanborn said. “But unfortunately we live in a time when if you’re a poor kid and you get sent to the local school, the chances are that you aren’t going to be as successful because things aren’t going well in those schools.”

But the data can also reveal encouraging outliers, such as 27 Houston grade schools that are considered “high-poverty” and yet doing a great job with educating kids.

Sanborn called those “gold ribbon schools.”

They all share common characteristics, such as a focus on pre-K preparation and using data to make decisions for each and every child.

“Teachers and principals are saying let’s follow the data, and the minute that we see the data turn on the kid, let’s figure it out and intervene,” he said.

But for every one of those schools that excel despite poverty, there are five other grade schools in Houston that don’t, he added.  

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