Education • Rod Paige

Thanks to this energetic superintendent, Houston schools are finally making the grade.

Rod Paige is not happy. The 67-year-old superintendent of the Houston Independent School District is brandishing that morning’s Houston Chronicle, and his voice is full of heat. “Seventy-one percent of our students are classified as low income compared with twenty-nine percent across the nation,” he says to an aide. “Yet our students are performing at the national average on test scores. That’s phenomenal, and they missed the whole damn thing.” He is so exasperated he repeats himself: “They missed the whole damn thing.” The cause of Paige’s ire is a front-page story that emphasizes the poor reading and math scores among Houston middle school students on the Stanford Achievement Test. He argues that of the eleven grades tested, seven improved in language and reading and all but one improved in math. “You can’t find that in the other big cities. All we want is for people to recognize the victories we achieve. But if they don’t, that’s fine. We’ll keep shoving success at them until it chokes them.”

Since Paige took over the state’s largest public

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