Houston ISD touts Kashmere High School turnaround, but district still faces takeover threat

Houston ISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan addresses the community on Aug. 15 at Kashmere High School.

Houston ISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan addresses the community on Aug. 15 at Kashmere High School.

Houston ISD officials celebrated Kashmere High School in north Houston on Aug. 15, using its turnaround after eight years of underperforming as a symbol of what the district can accomplish.

"With the right support, we have changed the narrative," interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said.

The school gained 29 points in its annual Texas Education Agency accountability score, earning a passing grade of 78 after eight consecutive years of underperforming. Another nine of 11 schools targeted for Improvement Required, or IR, earned passing grades. The district reached an overall score of 88, improving over last year and outperforming large urban districts such as San Antonio ISD and Dallas ISD.

Despite the gains, the TEA is required under state law to intervene because another school targeted for improvement, Wheatley High School in the Fifth Ward area, did not have similar success.

A total of 21 schools received failing grades, though six of them, including Wheatley, earned enough for a D rating, but a state rule required them to be assigned an F.

"We know we still have a lot of work to do," Lathan said.

Schools under IR status have been receiving additional support under the district's Achieve 180 program.

"This is about getting the resources that our leaders and teachers and students need, all the necessary resources to have success," Achieve 180 Area Superintendent Felicia Adams said.

Officials credited the additional social and academic supports, as well as customizing curriculum and teaching methods to get students to engage.

"We really had to work this as a team, at every level, and continue to do that," said Adams, who described the turnaround team as a "small army" of educators. "We are here to provide whatever it takes for our kids."

The TEA has the option to close Wheatley or to order a board of managers to oversee the
district.

In addition to the threat of a takeover because of school performance, the board is also being recommended for replacement after a TEA investigation, though a final decision has not been made.
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By Matt Dulin

Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


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