• Category 2

    Selected in 2019

  • Grades: 9 - 12
    School Setting: urban
    Town Population: 2,325,502
    Student Enrollment: 485
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 10%
    White/Caucasian: 0%
    Hispanic: 89.5%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0.5%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:23
    % Reduced Lunch: 83%
    % ELL Learners: 9.2%
    Founded: 2008
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Brian Gaston
  • CONTACT:
    8001 Fulton St., Bldg. C
    Houston, TX 77022
    713-696-6168
    bgaston1@houstonisd.org
North Houston Early College High School
Houston, TX
“Creating and maintaining a culture to attract the best educators is pivotal to the work we do increasing educational opportunities for our students."
Describe the most successful activity your school has initiated to strengthen ties to your community.
One of the unique aspects of our school is the requirement for each student to complete 400 hours of community service by the time he/she graduates. A myriad of these hours come from the senior research project. The project is chosen at the beginning of the senior year and students are assigned a group in which to work. This group researches a problem and collaborates on the best way to make an impact on the problem. Thus, students spend countless hours feeding the hungry at pantries, churches, and food banks; clothing people at volunteer shelters, churches, and schools; tutoring children at elementary schools; cleaning stalls and cages at the SPCA, and even comforting children who are occupants of the local Ronald McDonald House. They all have a research question that must be answered within the scope of the project. The culmination of this project is the presentation to school administrators, senior sponsors, community members, and parents.
Describe your school culture and explain changes you’ve taken to improve it.
Our mission is to deliver the highest quality educational experience by maintaining a college culture within a diverse, supportive, public high school. As a result, we intentionally and strategically implement policies and systems to foster a college-like atmosphere for our students and staff. For example, the learning spaces around campus are equipped with computers, TV monitors, charging stations, cozy conference rooms, and materials necessary for successful teaching and learning. There is a patio on the second floor which can be transformed into an outdoor classroom, and a student lounge called “The Nest” designed to provide a “cool” space for student social and learning interaction. In keeping with the college structure, our school does not utilize bells to move students from one class or activity to another. For those taking online dual-credit classes, a study period is built into their schedule so they can have consistent time on task in that course.
Describe how data is used to improve student achievement and inform decision making.
The “data dive” is one of the most important functions of our weekly professional learning communities as it drives the instruction of the teachers. Results are examined holistically, as teachers use multiple data sources and real-time assessment feedback to draw conclusions on next steps. Additionally, students own their learning by tracking their own data and submitting reflections to their teachers. Teams of teachers complete an error analysis on the assessments to see which objectives have been mastered and which ones need to be revisited. This leads to targeted tutorials and re-teaching which is germane to the problems the students experience within the assessment and/or the curriculum. Students who show a trend of poor performance, are placed into targeted intervention classes and/or specialty programs designed to improve the skills in which they are not proficient. A progress monitoring system is in place to evaluate growth at numerous points throughout the year.
Describe the program or initiative that has had the greatest positive effect on student achievement, including closing achievement or opportunity gaps, if applicable.
At the beginning of the school year, our principal ensures every faculty member fully understands all aspects of state accountability and uses the data to set our yearly goals. Each faculty member receives data from the previous school year, including comparative data of similar schools and high performing schools. During this goal-setting session, we comb through all the accountability indicators, including state testing results, academic growth index, Advanced Placement exam scores, SAT scores, advanced/dual-credit course completion rates, and even attendance rates. Each of these areas are analyzed through the lens of each sub-population group while discussing each teacher’s alignment to a specific indicator. Following the data analysis protocol, the faculty brainstorms school-wide SMART goals for the year. Together, we narrow the list down to our top five goals. Through this process we gain buy-in from every faculty member to work towards expanding opportunities for students.
Explain how ESEA federal funds are used to support your improvement efforts.
A large portion of our ESEA federal funds is used to fund our parent engagement representative position and Communities in Schools (CIS). Our parent engagement representative plays a critical role in ensuring our families and community are valuable stakeholders within the school. CIS provides wraparound services for our students, including emotional support, counseling, and resources to help economically disadvantaged students. Additionally, we use ESEA federal funds to purchase resources to support instruction, fund after-school and weekend tutorials, professional development, interventions, credit recovery, and our extended year program.
Describe your philosophy of school change or improvement.
There’s an adage that uses an analogy of getting people on the bus in the right seat to describe the way to move an organization forward towards positive outcomes. We expand this analogy to say in order to continuously increase the effectiveness of our school, we need to get the right people on the bus in the right seat, keep them on the bus, and ensure the bus is going in the right direction. As a result, we prioritize hiring, retaining, and building capacity amongst the right people in order to improve our school. Creating and maintaining a culture to attract the best educators is pivotal to the work we do increasing educational opportunities for our students.
Identify the critical professional development activities you use to improve teaching and student learning.
The life of a teacher at NHECHS is as involved and important as that of a student. In fact, the teacher becomes a student each week in the Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting. Grade level teachers and departments have common planning periods and meet to discuss best practices for teaching students at the specified grade level. During these meetings, the Dean of Instruction assigns professional reading material and after a discussion of various strategies, asks for exemplars of specified instructional practices. Teachers present the successes and the failures to others in the group for feedback and suggestions. Twice a month, teachers participate in learning walks through classrooms to observe diverse strategies and practices. At least once per month the PLC participates in a “data dive” to analyze and reflect on the current performance of their students.
Describe specific programs in place to ensure that families are involved in the success of your school and students.
We are proud to share our accomplishment of being a Platinum Certified Family-Friendly School, the highest honor you can receive from our school district for building and improving relationships with families and communities. Our parent engagement representative plays a critical role in ensuring our families are involved in the success of our school and students. Their position is dedicated to guaranteeing parents and the community are active participants within our school, linking family events to learning, supporting parent advocacy, and honoring families. Throughout the year, we host various learning workshops for our parents including topics on two-way communication, cyberbullying and digital conflict, vaping, and understanding academic content. Additionally, we hold parent teambuilding functions, operate a parent center, and conduct school climate surveys for families.
What is the single most important factor in the success of your school that others could replicate?
Our organizational structure is such a critical part of our success. It ensures every office, classroom, and department’s functions are aligned to the vision of the school. The roles, duties, and expectations of every staff member are clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders to ensure accountability, efficiency, and high productivity. Each leader is an expert in his/her field and is given autonomy to develop operating systems for their area. Systems are in place to ensure each area is aware of how their roles work in conjunction with others and communication breakdowns are few. Students understand there is a structure, which must be followed to ensure their success. The NHECHS creed reminds students they are responsible for their own learning. These structures assist them as they seek to be so. As a result, we have seen a positive increase in student outcomes and received zero complaints to the district office.
What are your school’s top two goals for the next year?
Goal 1: Increase the percentage of graduates enrolled in a post-secondary institution within one year of high school.
Goal 2: Increase our overall average SAT scores and percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams.
Stats
  • Category 2

    Selected in 2019

  • Grades: 9 - 12
    School Setting: urban
    Town Population: 2,325,502
    Student Enrollment: 485
    Student Demographics:

    Black/African American: 10%
    White/Caucasian: 0%
    Hispanic: 89.5%
    Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0%
    Asian: 0.5%
    Native American: 0%
    Other: 0%

    Teacher/Student Ratio: 1:23
    % Reduced Lunch: 83%
    % ELL Learners: 9.2%
    Founded: 2008
  • PRINCIPAL:
    Brian Gaston
  • CONTACT:
    8001 Fulton St., Bldg. C
    Houston, TX 77022
    713-696-6168
    bgaston1@houstonisd.org