Houston an Exception to High Turnover Rates of Urban Superintendents

HISD superintendent Terry Grier has held his position since September of 2009 – five years. In that time, he has implemented the Apollo 20 program to help the district’s lowest performing schools; he has implemented stricter regulations on magnet status eligibility for schools; and he has presided over considerable upgrades to facilities and digital infrastructure funded by the largest school bond program the state of Texas has ever seen. During Grier’s tenure, HISD has won the Broad Prize for Urban Education, and the superintendent himself has won the Green-Garner Award for urban education leadership.

As a recent NPR story pointed out, many urban superintendents do not have the time to implement and follow through on long-term strategies as Grier’s administration is doing. The average tenure of an urban superintendent is 3.5 years. With such rapid turnover, it can be difficult for district administrators to remain focused on long-term strategies for improving the quality of education.

So what does Grier’s longer-than-average tenure mean for Houston students? Well, while it doesn’t guarantee anything, it is likely to result in long-term follow-through on initiatives like Apollo 20, which will make these programs more likely to be effective.

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