Mar 22, 2024 - Education

HISD backtracks on principal evaluation plan

Illustration of a pattern of apples and stacks of textbooks.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

After outrage by educators and parents, Houston ISD superintendent Mike Miles has backtracked on a plan to fire or discipline more than 100 principals who don't meet the standards of the district's new rating system.

Why it matters: Miles' tenure has been met with protests and calls for his removal after he implemented a new principal proficiency screening program.

  • Miles was appointed to head the district by the Texas Education Agency, which took oversight of the troubled district last year.

State of play: On March 8, the Houston Chronicle published a list of 117 principals who had been informed by the district that they failed to meet the proficiency job standards.

  • At a news conference last week, Miles said the emails putting nearly half of the district's principals on notice didn't mean they were going to be fired, but he acknowledged that 10% to 20% could face removal.
  • The Houston Association of School Administrators (HASA) called this level of turnover "unacceptable" and "unsatisfactory."

Between the lines: The district no longer offers strong mentorship to new principals, but it expects first-time leaders to perform as well as veterans, HASA executive director Shannon Verrett told Axios.

  • After the district hired at least 830 uncertified teachers this school year, campuses are unable to meet Miles' proficiency goals, Verrett said.

What they're saying: Parents yelled at Miles during a recent school board meeting.

  • "Trust has been repeatedly broken, and we are hurting," said resident Stacy Anderson.

Friction point: 150 community members registered to speak at the meeting. Many students and parents came from Carnegie Vanguard High School, whose principal was one of the 117 marked as underperforming.

  • Many argued that Ramon Moss, the Vanguard principal for 20 years, built the magnet school into one ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 35th best public high school in the country and the fifth best in Texas.
  • "My principal knows my name and everyone else's, and my teachers are concerned about my education and about me," HISD seventh grader Brynn Cabe said at the meeting. "Our school was like this before you came to our district, and I hope it can withstand your policies."
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