Nearly 200,000 HISD students headed back to class Monday morning and some have big changes at their schools.
Students from five middle schools and four high schools in the district's Apollo 20 school turnaround program received a one-week head start when their school year started on Aug. 20.
Four new school buildings opened Monday for the first day of school. They include Carnegie Vanguard High School, Billy Reagan K-8 Education Center, Lockhart Elementary School and Neff Elementary School.
The Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School at 6300 Avenue B in Bellaire is also new this year. This is HISD's first Mandarin Chinese language immersion school. The school will initially serve students in kindergarten through second grade. Additional grades will be added later. Core subjects will be taught primarily in Mandarin Chinese with a certain amount of English language development instruction incorporated each day.
HISD is also offering students at six campuses the chance to earn associate's degrees and career training in high-demand technical fields. The Houston Innovative Learning Zone program (HILZ) was created in partnership with Houston Community College. The schools include Furr, Kashmere, Scarborough, Sterling, and Booker T. Washington high schools and Long Middle School.
HILZ students will take courses taught by college professors. Any credits students earn will transfer to any public Texas university.
This school year, HISD has a new and improved curriculum. It is aligned with state and national standards and will prepare students for the rigor of STAAR and other standardized tests.
Other changes for teachers and principals include, a new literacy plan, a revamped K-5 English language arts curriculum, and continuing leadership training for principals.
Law enforcement officials remind drivers to follow school zone signs and slow down, and allow extra time to get to your destination.