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04 September 2013 Written by  Forward Times Staff

Yates High School is removed from AYP Stage 5 & Academically Unacceptable Lists

marla mcneal sheppardFor as much negative news that gets reported about African American schools in Houston, this was one worthy to be highlighted.

Yates High School had held an “Academically Unacceptable” rating and was in Stage 5 (the final stage) of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) amongst schools in Texas.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Marla McNeal-Sheppard, who did not return to Jack Yates High School as principal for the 2013-2014 school year, Yates has been removed from both lists.

This is exciting news and a huge “feather in the cap” for the school and the former Yates principal.

McNeal Sheppard recently left Houston Independent School District (H.I.S.D.) to become an Assistant Superintendent in Fort Bend ISD, but is excited about the results at Yates.

“It is truly bittersweet!,” says McNeal-Sheppard.  “Although I never really knew how long I would stay, I continued to have the goal of leaving the school better than I received it. When I came to Jack Yates on June 9, 2011, I understood that the task was huge, but, tirelessly, my administrative staff and I came in and rolled up our sleeves and gave Yates our all.”

When you look at the following lists of accomplishments that McNeal-Sheppard and her administration made together, it is pretty safe to assume that the mission was accomplished.

Under her administration:

  • Yates grew 22% in math from 2011-2012 and TEA issued an “Academic Distinction” in math for the student achievement in the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Algebra I and Algebra II scores beat the district average.
  • Yates met the TEA Accountability standard for the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Chemistry scores beat the district average at an amazing 82% passing.
  • Attendance increased over the past two years from 90.2% to 94.3% (the greatest increase of all schools)
  • Scholarship amounts for the past two years have gone well beyond $5 million dollars.
  • Facilities have been painted and classrooms have been painted and updated.
  • School of Communications is receiving a brand new radio broadcasting studio and television broadcasting studio (currently being built).
  • School has two beautiful new weight rooms for boys and girls athletic programs.
  • School has installed a new Indoor Batting Cage for the Baseball team equipped with pitching machines.
  • Completion rate increased by 9% to 90.3% (the highest increase in the district).
  • Established a new partnership with the University of Houston Hilton for their new Hotel and Restaurant Management program.
  • School has garnered a $600,000 grant in collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and Texas Southern University for college readiness.

Houston ISD officials appointed McNeal-Sheppard the principal of Yates High School mcneal sheppard football teamafter her tenure at Fleming Middle School, where she was named HISD’s middle school principal of the year for 2011.  McNeal-Sheppard replaced Samuel Coleman, a recruit from HISD Superintendent Terry Grier’s former school district, San Diego Unified, who resigned after five months on the job. McNeal-Sheppard was the first female principal in the history of Jack Yates High.

“I wish this community well and hope for nothing but the best,” says McNeal-Sheppard. “The students at Yates are some of the finest that I have ever worked with. I look forward to continuing to hear great things about Yates.  I would like to thank those of you in the community who have worked with me these past two years.  I truly appreciate your support.”

H.I.S.D. has recently hired Mr. Donetrus G. Hill to replace McNeal-Sheppard, and as if evidenced by the success of McNeal-Sheppard, expectations will be high for Hill as a result of seeing what can be done at Yates in a short period of time.