HISD gives final approval to teacher dismissal plan

HISD Superintendent Terry Grier has gotten approval from the HISD Board of Trustees to implement a plan that would allow for the dismissal of teachers whose students don’t make enough progress on standardized tests.

Data provided by HISD show that, over the last three years, 421 teachers have gotten far lower-than-expected progress from their students on standardized tests. That represents about 12 percent of the teachers the policy could affect and 3 percent of all teachers in the district.

“Don’t forget that we have approximately 13,000 teachers in HISD,” Grier said. “The vast majority are doing a good job.”

Some of the teachers may have poor scores in one subject but rate highly in another. In those cases, Grier has suggested that principals could switch teaching assignments instead of turning to termination.


The district only tracks the individual performance of teachers in grades three through 8 in the subjects of math, science, social studies and language arts. These 3,500 or so teachers would be the ones affected by HISD’s plan to include so-called value-added scores in formal job evaluations and as a potential reason for dismissal.

Standardized test data is not available for teachers of lower grades or elective classes. High school teachers get rated on the performance of their entire department, such as math or science.

More here and here. The unions object to this for a variety of reasons, including a lack of clarity about how the policy is to be applied; principals, who would be responsible for recommending that a teacher be fired, are also concerned about that. I certainly agree that at the very least, the process needs to be very specific about what conditions can lead to termination, and what remediating steps can be taken and must be taken to head it off. I confess, while I agree with this idea in principle, I have problems with basing it all on standardized test scores. There is, or at least there should be, more to education and evaluating teachers than that, not to mention the fact that it seems unfair to subject only a fraction of the teacher population to this condition. Of course, moving evaluations away from standardized test scores necessarily makes them more subjective, and thus harder to quantify and codify as processes. I don’t know what if any method would be best, but I do hope we intend to evaluate the process itself on a yearly basis, to see if it actually works as intended, and I hope we have the courage to admit it and do something about it if it does not. School Zone has more, and be sure to see this FAQ posted by HISD about the “Value Added” scores.

UPDATE: Hair Balls has more.

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5 Responses to HISD gives final approval to teacher dismissal plan

  1. Doug Coffee says:

    My wife teaches math at a high school in the Houston area. She complains to me about one of her classes having several kids that are very disruptive and difficult to control. She writes them up and sends them to the principle. Nothing happens to them and the same kids continue to be a problem. Are administrators being evaluated also? Why doesn’t the school group students according to acedemic performance? Good performers with good performers and bad with bad? Not everyone learns at the same pace and some kids need to be left behind so that the other students can go on. She also complains about students that were past to the next level of math just because they went to summer school not because they mastered the material. You can not expect a student to learn algebra when they have not mastered addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and FRACTIONS!

  2. Interested Person says:

    What are the steps to applying to become a candidate for the board of education?

  3. Bella says:

    I am a middle school teacher in Houston as well. I, too, work in a building where there is no discipline. HISD is all about who you know not what you know. Our principal is new as an administrator. This is her second year and unfortunately not doing a good job. Probably because she has never even been an Assistant Principal or any held any type of administrative title. Because of her lack of experience, the students basically run the school running around in the hallways cursing and hitting teachers just to name a few. Please explain to me how I am supposed to help a child pass a test when they are free to roam and do whatever they want? The students already know they are going to be promoted no matter how they perform on any test because the schools don’t want to look bad or lose money by retaining children.

    Education is all about money, not the children. True, some teachers are not doing a good job, but no one is preparing teachers to work in urban schools. We don’t even have a library or computers for the students!!!

    I could go on and on, but it would require too much time and effort when it doesn’t even matter anyway. All I can is, for all those people who agree with the board’s decision, just wait and see. You have no idea what you have done.

  4. Jerry Hinds says:

    They are CHILDREN!!!! Not widgets, what makes a great educational experience and how can we help teachers? Get all of enourmously important grossly neglected work off the teacher’s plate, such as Counseling.

    If the district really, really wants to improve the scores of all children, why are there NO counselors in elementary schools? So, Oscar’s dad who just got laid off or worse arrested, or Sarah’s mom who’s addicted to drugs, or Belle, who’s being raised by a grandmother with Alzheimer’s has someone to turn to…there’s no food in the house, they’re living in the car, the list goes on….because right now, the ONLY PERSON who is consistently available in the district is the TEACHER. NOT THE SCOREKEEPER, the TEACHER.

    Get a clue, if we expect students to care about themselves, we should CARE about more than their test scores and put priorities first…their mental well-being affects their learning and their scores. If you change the teacher’s primary focus off the wel-being of the whole child and place it on a test score, YOU have FAILED NOT THE TEACHER!

    Every time I hear an official of the school district or board share an view about what children need, I want to throw-up because I know they are doing NOTHING to get the counselors back in elementary schools, they give most of the money to their executive management and mid-management staff in pay and bonuses.

    Probably most teachers are shaking their heads about this entire fiasco, Rome is burning and the new staff has decided to go after the foot-soldiers who have been keeping things afloat. It is a LIE to say that this will only affect the lowest/worse teachers. All teachers will feel some anxiety from these additional measures and pressure and I doubt the benefit is worth the intensely negative atmosphere, but this I am sure until we the public stand up and say, NO MORE CRAP HISD get some help for the teachers, because good or bad whatever, whenever children need help. It is 99% coming from the teacher…noone else is there, everyone else is measuring WIDGET PERFORMANCE or talking about HUMAN CAPITAL!

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