Focus on Fleming: HISD looks to reduce achievement gap between students

HOUSTON – Thousands of families in Houston started the new school year under new leadership, after the Texas Education Agency appointed a new superintendent and board of managers to oversee the largest district in Texas.

The change has been met with mixed emotions and some controversy.

Houston ISD’s Fleming Middle School is one of the 28 schools the state has labeled a high-priority campus. It will operate this school year under a reform program under Superintendent Mike Miles called the New Education System - or NES.

This school year, KPRC 2 is embarking on a project to chronicle a year inside Fleming Middle School. Reporter Candace Burns will spend the year telling the stories of the students, staff and families that make up the Fleming community, as they undergo reform.

Fleming Middle School, located on Houston’s northside near Fifth Ward, sits in what is called an underserved community. That means the people who live here often face barriers to important resources like sufficient employment, adequate food, and healthcare.

Out of the 380 students who are enrolled at Fleming - 60% are Black, 38% are Hispanic, and 1% of the student body is white.

The school holds a “B” rating from the Texas Education Agency, but the campus is still undergoing what Miles calls “systematic wholescale reform.”

Instruction, curriculum, libraries and school hours will all operate differently this year at Fleming because of the reform.

Miles has dedicated his first year to overhauling 28 schools that feed into three of Houston ISD’s lowest performing high schools.

Fleming Middle School students traditionally transition to Phillis Wheatly, a historically underperforming high school. Wheatley was at the epicenter of the issues that eventually led to the Texas Education Agency’s decision to take over the state’s largest school district reorganize Houston ISD.

Sup. Miles said the ultimate goal of the reform plan is to reduce the achievement gap between Black, brown, and white students in Houston schools and to make sure every student has the opportunity to have a successful future.

About the Author:

Candace Burns is committed to helping keep her community informed, and loves sharing inspiring stories about people who make the world a better place.