HISD Board To Consider Outside Review Of Apollo Program

Over the last three years, the Houston Independent School District has invested more than $50 million dollars in public and private money to improve struggling schools. It's called the Apollo program. Some board members want an outside evaluation to see how it’s working.

In academic circles, researchers often review their colleagues’ work.

That’s what HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche wants for the Apollo program.

“Often times you need a fresh pair of eyes to assist you in evaluating your own programs.”

There have already been reports on the program by its architect, Roland Fryer at Harvard University.

But Stipeche wants an outside, unbiased review.

“We would hope that Dr. Roland Fryer’s Apollo program in the way it’s implemented in HISD is held the same academic standards that Harvard University would expect of him.

Superintendent Terry Grier doesn’t think an outside look is necessary. Fryer has already given two reports to the HISD board.

“But if board members, all or some or one, are not comfortable with that, and they want a researcher from Rice or anywhere else to review the study, it’s fine with me.”

The board will consider an outside review of Apollo at its meeting this week.

Meanwhile, one of the program’s major private funders is waiting on data from last school year.

The Houston Endowment is withholding $3 million dollars until it receives that. President Ann Stern says it’s part of their grant contract.

“We’re just anxious to see how the program’s doing. And we’re very hopeful and expect that when we see the data, you know, we’ll be able to fund that final installment on the grant.”

Stern says they would be happy with a report from Roland Fryer, not an external one.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...