A unique blend of education-savvy business leaders, a superintendent with stamina, and a mature accountability system has made Houston into the darling of urban school reform. Will success survive Rod Paige’s exit?

The city’s test scores are rising. The school board is a model of cooperation. Rod Paige may have set a new world record for longest-lasting urban superintendent. Experiments with charters and outsourcing have yielded success stories like the KIPP Academy. Yet now the most obvious sign of Houston’s success—its superintendent’s becoming the secretary of education—has created a situation as challenging as any the district has faced. Few urban school reform efforts ever survive a change at the top. How can Houston become an exception to the rule?

Jane Hannaway and Shannon McKay of the Urban Institute plumb the data

Marci Kanstoroom asks what role does the school district play in standards-based reform?

Paul T. Hill reminds Houston to stay focused as it transitions to new leadership

Last updated July 19, 2006