HISD College Readiness Department Offers Official SAT Practice Camp at TSU

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For the first time ever, HISD College Readiness offered an SAT® Practice Camp, in collaboration with TSU and the Greater Houston All-Star Band. Student musicians took full-advantage of Official SAT® Practice on Khan Academy, which is FREE, online, and personalized. Camp participants enhanced their skills in reading, math, and writing, while also learning about the importance of high PSAT and SAT scores. Research shows that high PSAT and SAT scores increase a student’s access to scholarship dollars and college options, and Khan Academy is one of many resources we have to ensure that every student is set up for success.

A recent study by CollegeBoard found that students who spend just 20 hours on Official SAT® Practice see an average score increase of 115 points (CollegeBoard, 2017). The HISD Department of College Readiness is committed to providing these resources to students throughout HISD; to learn more about Khan Academy, visit http://houstonisd.org/khanacademy.

HISD announces school winners of ‘We Khan Do It’ Challenge

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To boost college readiness across the district, HISD in mid-January challenged the district’s schools to compete for the most students using Khan Academy before the SAT test – and the results are in.

The three high schools with the most usage will receive financial support to enhance their college centers and/or support for college visits. Because college readiness starts early, elementary and middle schools were also part of the challenge. As part of a photo competition challenge, elementary and middle schools also arranged college visits for students and then tweeted pictures of those events. 

The winners in the three categories are:

Khan usage in larger 9-12 high schools

  • First place: Austin High School
  • Second place: Sharpstown High School
  • Third place: Westside High School

Khan usage in smaller 9-12 high schools

  • First place: Challenge High School
  • Second place: Energy Institute
  • Third place: North Houston Early College

Khan usage in 6-12 schools

  • First place: Young Women’s College Prep
  • Second place: Jane Long Academy
  • Third place: Mickey Leland College Prep

Winners of the elementary/middle school photo competition

  • Elementary schools: Ross, Anderson, and Bruce
  • Middle schools: Holland, Lawson, and Hartman

According to the CollegeBoard, 20 hours spent by students on the free official SAT practice on Khan Academy results in an average score gain of 115 points, compared to students who don’t use Khan.

Free personalized SAT practice is available for all HISD students at KhanAcademy.org/SAT.

Story Written by HISD Office of Communications

Jack Yates HS Senior Showcase, students present culminating, capstone projects

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Earlier this week, seniors at Jack Yates HS presented their culminating, capstone projects at a Career Readiness Portfolio Showcase. This is where Yates seniors, who have studied in the school’s Communication & Maritime Academy, highlight four years of development and training in the fields of commercial photography, printing technology, film-making, radio journalism, and maritime studies.

Community and industry partners were invited to attend the Showcase, to evaluate student portfolios. Partners who observe particularly exceptional projects are highly inclined to offer students scholarships, internships, part-time jobs, or even observations from the observer’s company, that help the student grow and develop in their field of interest.

Check out some of the highlights from this event below, and if you have any questions or would like to support Yates in this effort next school year, contact the campus’ Magnet Program at YatesMagnet@HoustonISD.org / 713-748-5400 ext. 344.

Get To Know Us! CCR Spotlight Jhanne Hooker

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Meet Jhanne Hooker, College Success Advisor (CSA) for the HISD Office of College & Career Readiness. Jhanne supports college access efforts at three different HISD campuses: Carnegie Vanguard, Jane Long Academy, and Liberty High School. She comes to HISD from the Texas A&M AdviseTX Corps, where she served as a college guidance advisor in Aldine ISD. Jhanne knows that every student is capable of achieving the extraordinary, and continues to emphasize the importance of effective advocacy on the part of the advisor, as well as self-advocacy on the part of the student.

I can allow neither past nor present preconceptions to determine students’ futures. My job as an advocate is to encourage my students, instill confidence, and maximize the opportunities available to them. In my interactions, I hope to help them achieve their desired goals, preparing them to be change agents and civic leaders within their communities in the process.

One of Jhanne’s biggest push efforts this school year was ensuring that each student at her campuses utilized Khan Academy, to prepare for the PSAT and SAT. Though colleges and universities review student applications holistically, test scores play a major factor, especially when a student’s financial aid award is being packaged. Students have several free, high-impact resources at their disposal, and effectively utilizing these resources can change their college and career trajectory immensely.

Working at Carnegie Vanguard helped me realize the urgency in making sure students have access, and are using all resources available to them; this is a key factor in maximizing their opportunities. I cannot be satisfied with a student’s performance, simply because they are above the school’s average. Instead, I must challenge all students to compete amongst America’s best. Now, I see major improvements among the students at all of my campuses.

It’s no secret that schools today experience a shortage of counselors; the counselor-to-student ratio is 465:1 in the State of Texas (American School Counselor Association, Student-to-School Counselor Ratio). After counselors assist students with students’ academic, emotional, and social well-being, little room is left to focus on college and career goals. College Success Advisors like Jhanne fulfill this critical need, challenging students to think beyond high school graduation. They encourage students to stay on a positive track, finding a gateway to better, more sustainable financial futures, and ultimately allowing students to become more actively-engaged global community leaders.

In the midst of her hectic schedule, Jhanne always finds time for her students. Sometimes, however, she has to get creative, in an effort to ensure that every student receives the personalized attention and support needed to succeed.

Technology drives the way we communicate with others— with this in mind, I diversify, keeping up with my students through a variety of different and engaging ways (e.g. email, text messages and face-to-face meetings). This allows me to assign tasks and follow up with students effectively and efficiently. I also learned that I must consistently hold my students accountable to the college readiness tasks I assign.

Academic Signing Days Happening Throughout HISD, Seniors Commit to Post-Graduation Plans

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Signing Day

Throughout HISD, high school seniors are announcing and committing to their plans post-graduation. Our college and career access staff have assisted, counseled, supported, and worked with these students year-round, to ensure that each individual graduating senior has the tools necessary for success when they walk across the stage to celebrate this culminating moment.

Many of our students will attend a 2- or 4-year institution of higher learning in the Fall, pursue a technical certification, or serve in the Armed Forces. As Academic Signing Days continue at campuses throughout HISD, we ask that you continue to tag us on Twitter @HISD2College, using #DecisionDayHISD.

Check out some of the AMAZING activities happening at campuses to congratulate these students:

Booker T. Washington

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Energy Institute

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Jane Long Academy

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North Houston Early College

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HISD Students Provide Testimonials On Why CTE Is Important

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On Wednesday, May 10, HISD’s Office of College & Career Readiness recognized two exceptional high school seniors: Jalesha Bass (Yates HS) and Jesus Cortina (Barbara Jordan HS). The students provided testimonials on why Career and Technical Education (CTE) course offerings are important for HISD students. Jesus Cortina has this to say:

My welding instructor really motivated me to persist, pursuing welding after graduation from high school. But more than that, he taught me the importance of setting life goals in general. I truly believe I can make a career out of this pathway, and am grateful to have had his support along the way.

Jesus will attend HCC in the Fall to pursue a technical certification in welding, and Jalesha will attend the University of Texas at Austin– while at Yates HS, Jalesha studied both Communications and Maritime. She was also a dual credit student, who completed the Logistics & Global Supply Chain Management Specialist certificate at Houston Community College (18 semester credit hours).

Both Jesus and Jalesha were surprised with a $500 scholarship, to support them as they begin their academic careers.

Eastwood Academy Engineering Seniors apply what they have learned in-class

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On Friday, April 28, Eastwood Academy engineering seniors applied what they have learned in-class, presenting capstone projects to guest judges and industry partners. The Senior Capstone is the culminating project completed by all senior Engineers during the final year of the pathway. Students will have spent the previous year and a half completing smaller scale projects, to prepare them for the level of workload and research needed to complete the Capstone.

Seniors are asked, during the spring semester, to come up with an idea for a project such as identifying a real-world problem in the industry, community, or the school and developing innovative solutions for the problem. The student is responsible for researching the problem including the history, impact on the world/community, and the attempts at resolution thus far. Students propose their ideas and topics to Ms. Conflitti, the Engineering teacher, and she consults with students individually or in groups to determine the validity of the project and whether it meets the expectations of rigor for the pathway.

The student is then asked to develop a prototype to respond to the problem in their own unique way. Prototypes can consist of actual physical models, items created from scrap materials, refurbished objects, or simply a well-developed typed proposal. The joys of innovation are left entirely up to the student. Once a prototype is developed, the student and teacher consult once more to work out how the prototype needs to be re-engineered to meet the needs of the project solution. At this point in the semester, Ms. Conflitti schedules makerspace hours for students to come in and work on their capstone projects. These hours are usually scheduled after school and on Saturday afternoons. The students present their final projects to an audience consisting of industry partners, district administrators, and campus administration. Other teachers on campus are also encouraged to bring in their classes of underclassmen to observe the level of quality of presentations. In total, Engineering students have approximately 3 months from start to finish to work on their capstones.

Eastwood Academy’s Principal, Brandi Lira, had this to say:

Eastwood Academy’s educational philosophy is founded on the belief that schools must address the whole student rather than simply meeting minimum standards on exams. Eastwood is committed to fostering an ability to produce and disseminate information, to hold dialogue in ways that are reflective of our 21st Century opportunities, and to thrive in college and a career in this ever-changing global society. Allowing our students to take part in Capstone Projects affords them the opportunity to master the content through exploration and real world experiences. Students use critical thinking skills, synthesize information to formulate responses, and provide concrete experiential evidence to support these responses. Capstone Projects are aligned with the demands of the complex environments our students will enter once their leave our classrooms. At Eastwood, we ensure our students are ready for that setting.

You can check out some of the inventive and unique Engineering capstone projects below: