Tough Leadership and Early Signs of Success
Key’s state accountability ratings fluctuated between “Improvement Required” and “Meets Standard” before the new A-F accountability ratings were implemented. Under the latest report card from the Texas Education Agency (2018-19), Key Middle School received an “F” rating. Houston ISD recruited Carter – who demonstrated success in turning around her previous campus, Betsey Ross Elementary – to coach and improve student learning at Key.
Carter had to make some serious changes to the campus culture. “I came in January of 2018. I helped and supported about 10 to 12 people to move on [to other work] because they weren’t what was best for this community and these kids. That is part of the work that had to happen in order for my vision for Key to come to fruition. Then spending some time coaching up those who were in place and overcoming obstacles.”
Now a year into her new leadership role, Carter is seeing some leading indicators of success.
“The culture has changed significantly on our campus in the past year, significantly,” Carter says. “At this time last year, I believe we had, I want to say 33 fights. This year, we’ve had three. I think that speaks to the work we’ve put in, and the support that we put in place for our kids.”
Other numbers reflect positive momentum. Compared with the previous year, in-school suspensions (ISS) are down 80 percent. Out-of-school suspensions are down by 70 percent.
There are consistent and clear expectations for everyone on campus – leadership team, teachers, support staff, and students.
Carter describes her vision for turning Key around: “It’s perfectly clear in my head. I have no doubt whatsoever that we won’t be in F school next year. This level of clarity allows me to be much more specific in my coaching and feedback with my Tier Two leadership, with my teachers, and with my students. Every single person is understanding of what’s expected of them, including the students.”
Carter’s staff members are now believers in her work as well. Though she still has a long road ahead, she is leading a team – and they are following.
“As long as she’s here, I’m here,” says Cortney Jonhson, who was about to leave Key before Carter arrived. “Wherever she goes I will follow. If she ends up at Barnes and Noble, I’ll be there with her.”