--REPORT Office Board FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT of Superintendent Meeting of Schools 17, 1998 CLARIFYING LEARNING NO ACTION



of September




Board policy 610.000 requires a well-balanced, challenging, districtwide curriculum that encompasses and goes beyond state requirements. The State of Texas has developed the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which form the foundation for our objectives. The TEKS must be implemented in every Texas school district beginning in school year 1998-99. The changes in the TEKS required major revision of our curriculum objectives. However, even with.a well-written, well-developed set of curriculum objectives, objectives are open to interpretation. In order to clarify district expectations for student learning, a new tool is needed. Project CLEAR

Project CLEAR-Clarifying Learning to Enhance Achievement Results-was developed to be an instructional planning tool for teachers. It clarifies in detail what is to be taught and assessed. It establishes uniform standards across the district by subject and grade. It thus clarifies the TEKS and the HISD Scope and Sequence. This enables teachers to focus their planning time and professional conversations on how best to teach the knowledge and skills so that all students master the objectives. Project CLEAR not only provides detailed information on what is to be taught, it also indicates how it is to be assessed. It lists prerequisite knowledge for each objective and indicates how one objective is linked to other objectives to reinforce learning and build concepts. Instructional considerations are provided to support teachers in their planning, but teachers determine the instructional activities and strategies best suited to enabling their students to reach the desired objectives. Today's students need both traditional knowledge and skills and the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for a rapidly changing, technological world. Project CLEAR ensures that the curriculum includes these components. Teachers and administrators have praised these new materials for their clarity and ease of use. Page 1 of A-1 3

---Content Areas


Project CLEAR is being developed in four academic content areas over a threeyear period. This school year, Project CLEAR materials are available for English and Spanish Language Arts Writing (K-8), mathematics (K-8), and science (6-8). This painstaking work requires over eight hours of development time per objective to ensure that concepts develop across grade levels, that TAAS and StanfordjAprenda objectives are included, and that the content specified can be taught within the time span of the school year. To our knowledge, no other school district has curriculum documents developed to this level of specificity. Implementation In July, lead teachers from each school were involved in five full days of staff development held at Revere Middle School. These teachers explored the materials in depth. In turn, they will be presenting modules to their co-workers with support from their district offices, as needed. Language Arts Writing presentations are divided into four modules; mathematics has three modules; and science has two modules. Each school will determine how best to present the modules. Many are using grade-level meetings or vertical-team meetings. A reporting form will keep administrative-district staff members aware of schoollevel plans and implementation of the specific modules. Principals had an overview of the materials in June and will have additional staff development in September and throughout the school year. The district-office staff has had two full days of inservice and will assist lead teachers. Other central-office departments including Special Education, Reading, and Technology have also attended inservice sessions. During school year 1998-99, Project CLEAR materials will be revised through input from teachers and administrators in focus-group meetings and from on-line and written comments sent to the Curriculum Department. Project CLEAR documents will be posted on-line, and a Web site will be established on the Intranet. 1998-99 Development

During school year 1998-99, Project

materials will be developed for high-

school Language Arts Writing and for the TEKS strand of "Viewing and Representing." This new strand is of great importance in an age where so much information comes to us through the media. We need districtwide understanding of what must specifically be taught. Page 2 of 3


Science for grades K-5 will be developed to provide clear direction for elementary science instruction districtwide. Social studies will concentrate on content specifications for each objective K-9. This level of specificity will require consensus-building throughout the district. Eventually, all core curriculum courses will be clarified through Project CLEAR. When Project CLEAR is completed, every teacher, parent, and student will know exactly what learning is expected in our district. We have taken a very real step forward in ensuring equity of access to a high quality, challenging curriculum that will prepare students for success. Page 3 of 3



Houston Independent School Districtwide Improvement






The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest school system in Texas and the sev largest school system in America. HISD's annual budget is more than one billion dollars. We have students and 290 schools spread out over more than 300 square miles. We operate a fleet of 1,400 buses and transport 45,000 students to and from school every day. We have more than 30,000 employees, and we manage 23 million square feet of space at our various campuses. Our student population is 52 percent Hispanic, 34 percent African-American, 11 percent white, an percent Asian and other minorities. Houston is a diverse, international city, and 60 different 1 spoken in HISD, 14 at Piney Point Elementary School alone. Because we are a large urban school d we have more special-education and limited-English-proficiency students than other districts in In addition, 65 percent of our students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and are thus c economically disadvantaged. But our economically disadvantaged students are not academically disadvantaged. On the TAAS test they strongly outscore similar students in Fort Bend, Spring Bra Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, sometimes by nearly 13 percentage points. We have done a lot to achieve the goals of a focus on teaching and learning, performance rather than compliance, and a core curriculum for all students. We have decentralized individual communities.
. .


the district,


13 administrative


to better


Parents can now decide where they want to send their children to school. We ended exemptions from the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills
We ended "social promotion" and require students to earn advancement to higher grade level


We have created project CLEAR (Clarifying Learning to Enhance Achievement Results) to help
should be taught, plan how to teach it, and determine how well students have

teachers know what learned it.

We have created a new program to get disruptive students out of the classroom.
companies to repair and maintain our buildings and manage au

We have moved to hire private food-service operations.

We are streamlining by decentralizing our facilities" hundreds of positions, including many high-level management

maintenance jobs.


and eliminati

We have established 31

parent centers where parents can meet,
with teachers.

get information



and interact

We have created tax reinvestment zones so we could build two new high schools our student overcrowding problems on the east and west sides of town. Another of HISD's initiatives to make New Beginning," a five-point blueprint school competition, decentralization, involvement. These efforts are helping district's progress, reward employees efforts, give schools greater control the education of Houston's children.

to help solv

the district a leaner, more efficient, even better school for HISD's future based on accountability, best efforts, and expanded parental and community HISD to increase efficiency and student achievement, trac for excellence and creativity, assist schools in their imp over matters that affect them, and enlist parents and the

At the classroom level, HISD is leading the nation in the campaign to teach children to read as possible. The district is determined that Houston's children learn to read on grade level by the so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives. The Reading Initiative and the companion Mathematics Initiative are major components of HISD's q academic excellence. Our students are learning better than ever, and in many of our schools they

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