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Houston – 2019

2021 City Studies

Summary of Findings

This summary highlights major findings about students’ academic performance in public K-12 schools in Houston, Texas.1 Performance is measured by one-year learning gains or growth students made from one school year to the next. We benchmark Houston students’ growth against the state average growth and then compare the progress of charter and magnet school students with that of similar non-magnet district school (abbreviated as district school) students within Houston, accounting for student characteristics. 


Overall:

Students in Houston exhibited similar growth in reading in the school years of 2015-16 and 2017-18 and greater reading gains in 2016-17 compared to the statewide average student. In math, Houston students posted weaker growth in 2015-16 and greater progress in 2016-17 and 2017-18. 2

Sector:

In both reading and math, Houston charter school students made stronger growth than the state average in all three years. Houston magnet school students showed greater learning gains in reading and similar growth in math compared to the state average in all three years. District school students in Houston posted weaker growth in 2015-16 and 2017-18 and made greater progress in 2016-17 in reading. In math, Houston district school students underperformed the state average in 2015-16 and demonstrated stronger growth in the next two years.

Within Houston, charter schools exhibited stronger growth than district schools in both reading and math in all three years. Houston magnet schools posted greater growth than Houston district schools in reading in all three years while indicating no significant difference in math in any year. Relative to the Houston magnet school students, Houston charter school students showed weaker growth in reading in 2016-17 and stronger gains in math in 2017-18.

A deeper dive into Houston student growth for the period ending in Spring 2018 reveals the following findings:

Charter School Type:

Houston charter schools make greater progress than the state average in both reading and math, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a Charter Management Organization (CMO) or independent charter schools. There is no significant difference in gains between CMOs and independent charter schools within the Houston charter sector in either subject.

Race/Ethnicity:

Houston black students overall show similar growth in reading and stronger learning gains in math compared to the average black student in the state. Black students attending Houston charter schools outgrow the average back students statewide in both subjects. Black students from Houston magnet schools make greater progress in reading and similar math gains than the statewide average black student. Houston black students in district schools register less gains in reading and similar growth in math compared to the state average of black students. Within Houston, charter school black students exhibit stronger growth than district school black students in both reading and math; magnet school black students outperform district school black students in reading.

Hispanic students in Houston do not perform differently in reading and make greater progress in math compared to the average Hispanic student in the state. Breakout analyses reveal different patterns by school sector: Houston charter school Hispanic students show greater learning gains in both reading and math than the state average of Hispanic students. Houston magnet school Hispanic students outperform the average Hispanic student statewide in reading and do not grow differently in math. Hispanic students enrolled in Houston district schools post weaker growth in reading and greater gains in math relative to the average Hispanic student in the state. Within Houston, charter school Hispanic students outgrow district school Hispanic students in both subjects; magnet school Hispanic students make greater progress than district school Hispanic students in reading.

Poverty, ELL, and Special Education:

Poverty, ELL, and Special Education: Houston students living in poverty overall are on par with the average student in poverty in the state in reading and make greater learning gains in math. The patterns differ by the sector of schools. Houston charter school students in poverty exhibit stronger performance in both subjects. Houston magnet school students in poverty outpace the average student in poverty statewide in reading and do not significantly differ in math. Houston district school students living in poverty show weaker growth in reading and greater progress in math relative to the average student in poverty in the state. Within Houston, charter school students living in poverty outperform district school students living in poverty in both subjects; magnet school students in poverty make stronger learning gains than district school students in poverty in reading.

English Language Learners (ELLs) in Houston, overall and particularly those from district schools, lag behind the state average of ELLs in reading and perform similarly in math. ELL students attending Houston charter schools grow similarly in reading and make greater progress in math compared to the average ELL in the state. ELL students in Houston magnet schools are on par with the average ELL stateside in reading and post weaker gains in math. Comparisons of sectors within Houston indicate that ELLs in charter schools outgrow their peers in district schools in both reading and math, while ELLs’ attendance in magnet school does not make a significant difference in reading growth and is associated with weaker math gains compared to district school ELLs.

Houston students receiving special education services make similar growth in reading and greater learning gains in math compared to the state average of special education students. The same pattern is particularly found among special education students served by Houston district schools. Houston charter school students with special education designations surpass the average special education student in the state in both reading and math growth. Special education students attending Houston magnet schools are on par with the state average special education student in both subjects. Cross-sector comparisons within Houston indicate that special education students in charter schools make greater learning gains in both reading and math than special education students in district schools. Special education students attending magnet or district schools in Houston do not differ from each other in terms of growth in either subject.

Gender:

Both male and female students in Houston overall post similar gains in reading and stronger growth in math compared to the average student of the same gender in the state. Sector breakout analyses demonstrate similar patterns across genders for Houston charter and magnet school students. To be specific, male and female students studying in Houston charter schools exhibit stronger growth than the average student of the same gender in the state in both reading and math. Students of each gender enrolled in Houston magnet schools make greater progress in reading and grow similarly in math relative to the state average of the same gender group. Male students’ attendance of in Houston district schools is associated with similar reading growth and greater progress in math compared to the state average of male students. Female students in Houston district schools exhibit weaker gains in reading and stronger growth in math than the average female student statewide.

Within Houston, male and female students in charter schools make greater gains in both reading and math than the students of the same gender in district schools. Both male and female students in Houston magnet schools outgrow their peers in Houston district schools in reading and do not perform differently in math.

1The conclusions of this research do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official position of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Workforce Commission or the State of Texas.

2The Texas Education Agency changed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) from the school year 2015-16 to the school year 2016-17.


Presentation of Findings

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