Houston ISD is set to make major strides when it comes to instructor accountability in Texas K-12 education.

According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle entitled “HISD Looks at How to Grade Teachers“, 99% of teachers in the Houston ISD system receive outstanding job performance reviews in the current evaluation process, with “students’ academic success barely playing a factor.” Ninety-nine percent employee excellence would be unusual bordering on impossible for any corporation or agency, let alone one the size of Houston ISD. The administration is attempting to implement change that would work student performance into the metric, thereby incentivizing strong results from their teachers.

Naturally, there is pushback from those comfortable with the status quo. Chuck Robinson, head of the district’s second largest teacher group, says the problem isn’t with the current evaluation system, but rather those applying it. Its the way its applied and used and the kinds of instructional leadership you have in a building, he said, adding that there is fear from teachers that the new system will lead to firings.

However, it should be noted that even the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest national teacher unions, is on board with Houston’s new approach. AFT president Randi Weingarten has encouraged Houston teacher unions find a way to make a system work in which student academic performance factors into teacher performance.

The primary concern of anyone in the education business should be the best interest of the students. An evaluative metric that doesn’t take student academic performance into account fails to adequately measure whether an instructor is effectively teaching their students, which is the very core of their profession.

Whether or not the local teacher unions shoot down the reform efforts, Houston ISD should be praised for their efforts to increase accountability for their teachers. Other Texas school districts should take note.

– James Golsan