About 200,000 Houston Independent School District students are expected to return to school for the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 27. Students from five middle schools and four high schools in the district’s Apollo 20 school turnaround program will get a one-week head start on Aug. 20 when their school year begins.
Related: Houston Back-To-School Guide
The 2012-2013 school year brings many exciting improvements to Houston schools as HISD continues its work to offer a consistently rigorous education in a safe learning environment at all 279 campuses.
Four new school buildings funded by the 2007 voter-approved bond program will open on the first day of school.
- Carnegie Vanguard High School– (1101 Taft) – The Carnegie Vanguard Magnet program serves students who have been identified as gifted and talented in intellectual ability. In 2002, the Vanguard school moved to the former Carnegie Elementary campus which was originally built in 1963. The new building is located adjacent to the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center.
- Billy Reagan K-8 Education Center-(4842 Anderson Road) – The school will offer a two-way dual English and Spanish language program to its kindergarten class in an effort to develop full bilingualism and bi-literacy for all students. The center will implement this program in one of the kindergarten classes during the 2012-2013 academic year and will add one grade per year until there is a complete two-way dual language program in grades K-8.
- Lockhart Elementary School – (3501 Southmore) – The replacement school will now serve pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Students from the former Lockhart and Turner Elementary schools will attend the new campus.
- Neff Elementary School – (8301 Neff Street) – The replacement campus will serve students in grades 2-5. The former Neff campus is being converted into an early childhood campus for students in pre-kindergarten through first grade.
Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School – (6300 Avenue B, Bellaire) This is HISD’s first Mandarin Chinese language immersion school. The school will initially serve students in kindergarten through second grade, with additional grades to be added in subsequent years. Core subjects including language arts, math, science, and social studies will be taught primarily in Mandarin Chinese with a certain amount of English language development instruction incorporated each day.
Houston Innovative Learning Zone program- Students at six HISD campuses (Furr, Kashmere, Scarborough, Sterling, and Booker T. Washington high schools and Long middle school) will have the chance to earn associate’s degrees and career training in high-demand technical fields. The HILZ program was created in partnership with Houston Community College. In addition to taking the standard core credits required of all high school students, HILZ students will take courses taught by college professors using a blend of face-to-face and online instruction. In addition, credits earned by HILZ graduates will transfer to any public Texas university.
More Tools for Principals and Teachers
Curriculum Changes- HISD has a new and improved curriculum designed with the input of thousands of teachers. The new curriculum is aligned with state and national standards and will prepare students for the rigor of STAAR and other standardized tests. The new curriculum also places an emphasis on every child reading at or above grade level.
- New literacy plan- The new literacy plan serves as a guide for teachers and leaders as they prepare students to be proficient readers, independent thinkers, and effective communicators. The plan is called CLASS (Curriculum and instruction, Leadership, Assessment, Support for families and communities, and Sustainability).
- Revamped K-5 English Language Arts curriculum: The curriculum was designed in partnership with teachers and training provided by the Neuhaus Education Center. Teachers at all grade levels have received Neuhaus training on literacy intervention strategies. In the 2012-2013 school year, sixth and ninth- grade students who are reading below grade level will receive an extra daily class period of reading instruction using a specially designed curriculum from Neuhaus.
- Continuing Leadership Training for Principals: HISD has formed new partnerships with Rice University, the University of Texas, and St. Thomas University to help develop skills of current principals and to help train new talent. New and aspiring principals can attend an intensive four-week Emerging Leaders Institute. Ongoing monthly training is available for first-and second-year principals and assistant principals. There are also six new courses for principals related to decision-making in the area of staffing.
Bond Election Proposal in November
Houston voters will decide in November whether to approve a proposition to build modern high schools in neighborhoods across Houston, and improve safety and technology district-wide. The $1.89 billion plan would address facility needs in 38 schools. For a complete overview of the proposal and the schools that would be rebuilt or renovated, click here.