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Wheatley High is one of 13 schools in the Houston district that the state says are "chronically underperforming"

Houston district faces state takeover if schools don't improve

Texas Education Agency has identified 13 schools in Houston that need to improve their performance

Texas education officials have warned the Houston school district that it could be placed under the jurisdiction of state-appointed managers as early as next year if 13 of its schools don't show improvement.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas Education Agency (TEA) officials told state legislators that if even one of the district's 13 schools that has struggled for at least the past three years receives failing accountability marks in 2017 and again in 2018, it could trigger state oversight of the entire district. Alternatively, the state agency could take over individual, chronically failing campuses. 

Houston is among 46 school districts in Texas that could face state invention because of a law passed in 2015 that targets schools that have been in "improvement required" status for five or more years as of the 2018-19 school year.

The district released a statement that it "is aware of major concerns the Texas Education Agency has expressed regarding several of our schools considered 'chronically underperforming.'"

District leaders says they are working closely with TEA "to ensure every student receives an excellent education."

The Houston district is the seventh-largest district in the nation; it has more than 210,000 students and more than 280 schools.

Houston officials say they expect some schools to break their "improvement required" streak in 2017. They declined to specify how many. 

Several other large school districts — Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Waco — also have multiple struggling campuses that could fall into "improvement required" status again this year and in 2018, 

The TEA declined to say whether it is planning to take over any part of the Houston system, but says it will release a list of low-performing schools on Aug. 15.

The new law is part of Texas' changing school accountability system, which aims to measure and hold schools and districts accountable for how well students perform on standardized tests, among other factors. 

State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., of Houston says he could support a state takeover because he doesn't have enough confidence in the district to turn around schools that have been continually identified as failing.

"We have almost 15,000 kids in failing schools in Texas," Dutton says. "I'm tired of that. Most of them are in my district. Most of them are black and brown schools."

Superintendent Richard Carranza has been busy instituting changes since he took the job in September.

In April, he announced a campus turnaround plan at 32 Houston schools called "Achieve 180." The schools targeted by the initiative include the 13 campuses that could trigger a state takeover in 2018. It aims to improve student performance by bolstering school leadership, teaching and instruction, school design, social supports for students, and relationships with families and communities.

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