Broad Prize Committee Visits J.P. Henderson Elementary

Researchers kick off tour of six schools as part of evaluation process for 2012 award

May 23, 2012

Broad Prize Evaluation Committee members on Wednesday got an up-close look at the high level of rigorous education being provided to students in HISD.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation named HISD as one of four finalists for the 2012 Broad Prize. This will mark the second time in a decade that the district has been a candidate for this prestigious honor, which is the largest education prize in the country.

• Read Dr. Grier's PowerPoint presentation (.pdf)
• See photos from the Broad visit on the HISD News blog

Broad Prize Committee Visits J.P. Henderson Elementary (05/23/12)
Broad Committee Arrives at HISD to See District’s Progress (05/22/12)
Houston ISD Named a Finalist for Largest Education Prize in the Country (04/04/12)

The committee visited J.P. Henderson Elementary School , one of six HISD schools the team of researchers is visiting this week to evaluate the district as a finalist for the 2012 Broad Prize—the largest education award in the country given to school districts.

Henderson Principal Herlinda Garcia led a tour of the school, including its data room, which is used to track students' academic progress in a highly methodical, organized fashion and as a centralized location to plan instruction for the coming school year.

"Tracking is very important," Garcia said. "Tracking is not only about tracking students, but tracking instruction—and that is very critical."

At a press conference following the tour, Broad Foundation Senior Communications Director Erica Lepping said the group will publish its findings and share HISD's successes with other districts across the nation.

"We think the rest of the country … should be coming to districts like yours to learn what you are doing here that led to the gains that others aren't showing," Lepping said. "I want to commend you because the student gains happening here in Houston—it's remarkable."

Committee members had a chance to visit a variety of classrooms and grade levels, where all students were engaged in lessons with their teachers. ESL teacher Jacqueline Chappuis had her fourth-grade students working in groups of four or five on a language assignment, checking in with each group's progress and offering guidance.

Shelley Billig, lead researcher for the Broad Prize, said she was impressed with the level of instruction being provided to students.

"What we saw were a lot of kids who were highly engaged in learning," she said. "They were curious, they were persistent (and) operating at a level of rigor that we like to see for all students."

"I want to commend you because the student gains happening here in Houston ... it's remarkable."
-- Erica Lepping,
Broad Foundation

Among the reasons HISD was selected as a Broad finalist:

- Steady gains in graduation rates among African-American and Hispanic students.

- Increased participation rates for African-American and Hispanic students on SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement exams.

- Notable gains on math and science state assessments among Hispanic middle and high school students.

HISD's achievement during the evaluated school years was supported by data-driven transformations in three key areas: human capital, access to rigor, and building a "no excuses" culture. (See PowerPoint from Dr. Grier's presentation to the Broad committee outlining those transformations.) The other finalists this year are: Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and The School District of Palm Beach County, Fla. 

The winner of the 2012 Broad Prize will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 23, in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art.