Sharpstown High Will Join the New Education System. Neff Elementary Could Too

Sharpstown High Will Join the New Education System. Neff Elementary Could Too
Signs outside Sharpstown High School (left) and Pat Neff Elementary (right) on January 25, 2024

HISD announced Tuesday that 26 schools, including Sharpstown High, will be joining Superintendent Mike Miles’ New Education System (NES) this fall. Another 24 schools, including Sharpstown’s Neff Elementary, “have the option to be considered for the NES.”

NES schools follow a radically different model of classroom instruction, using daily post-lesson quizzes to sort students between a re-teach and a “Team Center.” Teachers at next year’s NES schools will also have to pass a “proficiency screening,” according to the Houston Landing.

HISD selected this new group of 50 schools based on individual school ratings for the 2022-23 school year. Schools receiving accountability ratings of 64 and under (low Ds and Fs) are required to join the NES. Schools receiving high Ds (65-69) have the option to join.

Sharpstown High received an accountability rating of 50 (an F), tying for the 12th lowest out of 268 schools in the district. Neff Elementary received a rating of 67.

The ratings, based on metrics like standardized tests, graduation rates, and more, were calculated in-house by HISD. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) did not release school ratings for 2022-23 because of a lawsuit brought by several school districts. So HISD took the data and methodology provided by the TEA and calculated the ratings itself.

Both schools have a history of low STAAR scores. For example, on Sharpstown High’s English I STAAR test last spring, only 22% of students scored at “Meets Grade Level or Above.”

But Sharpstown High and Neff Elementary face challenges that many schools across HISD do not. Many students, classified as Emergent Bilinguals, are recent immigrants who are still learning basic English. Many are also classified as “Economically Disadvantaged” and live in less-than-ideal apartment complexes.

In 2022, 75.7% of Neff students and 55.6% of Sharpstown students were Emergent Bilinguals—and 95.1% of Neff students and 83.4% of Sharpstown students were "Economically Disadvantaged," according to the TEA.

Sharpstown High’s new principal, T.J. Cotter, has already been making changes, such as requiring school uniforms and implementing more classroom observations.

Will Neff join the NES too?

HISD directed the principals of high-D schools like Neff to “gather input from staff, families, and members of their Shared Decision Making Committees” and notify the district of their choices by February 7.

Neff Principal Amanda Wingard, who was HISD’s 2023 Elementary Principal of the Year, has not yet responded to the Sharpener's request for comment.

To learn what it's like inside a local NES school, read about the Sharpener's visit to Sugar Grove Academy.