Once again, HISD is threatening parents and misrepresenting information. The district cannot mandate summer school for a student who has failed or missed a STAAR test. That decision can only be made by the grade placement committee comprised of a parent, a teacher and an administrator.
Yet, many HISD parents whose child failed or was absent from a STAAR reading test this spring received a computer-generated message on their child's report card on the last day of school.
The report card indicated that their child would be retained and that their child must attend summer school in order to be promoted. This is a misrepresentation of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Code and the Student Success Initiative (SSI) and HISD KNOWS that. Read the HISD STAAR FAQ here
No district can mandate summer school for a student who has failed or missed the STAAR test. The HISD report card misrepresented the TEA code.
The grade placement committee (GPC), not the school district, makes promotion decisions. The committee comprised of a parent, a teacher and an administrator looks at the student's entire academic record, not just the STAAR, and makes an individualized decision regarding the appropriate form, content and timing of accelerated instruction if any. Accelerated instruction can take many forms from summer school to a parent reading to his/her child. This is determined by what is in the best interest of the child.
Which scenario applies to you?
- If your child has good grades and attendance, the GPC committee can move forward with promotion without summer school.
If your child's academic record shows academic gaps, then the GPC committee can recommend summer school. It can also recommend an alternative form of additional instruction such as reading with a parent every evening or tutoring. The instruction should be whatever is in your child’s best interest.
Bring the following with you to the GPC: All of your child's report cards and all the work he/she has done- homework, written assignments, classroom tests, projects, etc. everything! Be sure to bring the final report card of the year.If your child has had a low test score or other indication of academic performance that might merit retention in grade, the school - starting with the teacher, is supposed to initiate those discussions several weeks before the end of the school year so the child's progress can be monitored, learning supported, giving a fuller picture of how he's doing before any decision is made.
- If your child failed his/her classes or has unexcused absences beyond that which is required by the school district, the child must attend summer school.
All of the children whose parents opted out of both reading and math (in CVPE) were promoted to the next grade without incident. Due to the combined efforts of Community Voices for Public Education and the 80 parents who opted out of at least one STAAR test this year, HISD complied with state law. We are thankful to the 45 HISD parents from nineteen HISD schools and another 40 from ten Houston area school districts whose act of civil disobedience will help all children in the long run. As a result of these efforts, HISD retracted its original heavy-handed letter and sent a more factually-accurate letter three days later to opt out parents. HISD has since posted a STAAR FAQ stating that-
- “when a student doesn’t meet all district and state promotion requirements, he/she is referred to a school-based Grade Placement Committee prior to the start of summer school for a formal review of grades, attendance records and other assessments. The Grade Placement Committee is made up of a student’s parents, teachers and campus administrators. After the review, the Grade Placement Committee makes an initial determination: to move forward with promotion or require the student to receive additional instruction during summer school.”
Note that this year, there are no state or federal performance or participation requirements for the STAAR math this year and the state has a temporary waiver for reading performance and participation.
However, HISD's message on the report card did not indicate anything about the parent right to participate in a grade placement committee. The computer-generated note from HISD stated only that “your student has been retained. Once your student successfully completes all program requirements during summer school, your student will be enrolled at SCHOOL's NAME for the 2015-16 school year. If you feel this is incorrect, contact your student's current school and verify his/her status."
When will HISD decide to WORK WITH PARENTS to ensure that students receive the best education possible? Parents are the school district’s natural allies.
Students hurt most by HISD’s unwillingness to “communicate more effectively are parents-many poor and working two jobs-who do not know how to navigate the system. Children, many with extraordinary grades, will be threatened into attending unnecessary summer school due to HISD’s misrepresentation of their rights in its letter to parents and message on the report card..
HISD Trustees, you are our elected representatives. Are you listening?