Alief Kerr High School

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Alief Kerr High School
Front View
8150 Sugarland Howell
Harris County, Texas
United States
Type Public magnet school
Motto "Be the difference that makes the difference!"
Established 1994
School district Alief Independent School District
Principal Gregory "Greg" Freeman
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 800[1]
Color(s)      Purple
Team name Tigers

Alief Kerr High School is a magnet school located in the Alief community, near the city of Houston in an unincorporated area of Harris County, Texas, in the United States. The school is a part of the Alief Independent School District and serves grades 9 through 12. Kerr High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive, during the 2010-11 school year.[2]


Kerr High School was named for Carey Jean Kerr, a counselor who worked with students at both Chancellor Elementary and Alief Middle School.[3] Kerr died from asthma in 1992 after a 15-year career with Alief ISD.[3] The school opened in the fall of 1994. In May 1996, the first class of approximately 55 students graduated.


Kerr may be best explained as part Montessori, part performing arts high school, and part little red school house. Unlike a regular magnet school, such as Houston ISD's DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Kerr lacks an official area of concentration. Unlike traditional campuses, students are not separated by individual classes with one assigned teacher. Students can seek out a variety of peer and teacher input. Unlike a one-size-fits-all pacing, students work at their own pace.[4]

Front page of an AP Calculus PAK

Students usually apply to Kerr in their 8th grade year, but applications can be accepted in later grades. The student and his/her parents must attend an orientation. Afterwards, the student must submit an application. Admission into Kerr is based on grades, student behavior, and attendance records.[1] Traditional high schools in Alief ISD are assigned by a lottery to either Alief Elsik High School, Alief Hastings High School, or Alief Taylor High School. Alief Kerr and Alief Taylor are located across the street from each other; Kerr shares transportation with Alief Taylor.

Independent Learning[edit]

Kerr is based on independent learning. Under the teacher's guidance, the student proceeds through the course on his/her own. He/she is given deadlines for completion of assignments, projects, and tests. Students who understand the material well and are focused on class work can proceed faster. Students have finished courses two to four times faster than the normal pace. Students that need more time may move at a slower pace, but must complete the course within the end of the term.[5]

In most classes, teachers will go over the course material once a week in a seminar. Separate seminar rooms are available for teacher instruction.

PAK (Personal Activity Kit)[edit]

Instead of traditional assignments, PAKs (Personal Activity Kit)[5] are administered for each class. PAKs include all the work for the unit. They inform students of the objectives, direct them to learning materials, and prepare them for tests/quizzes. The PAK system encourages students to participate in teamwork, seminars, and large groups to provide opportunities for teacher-directed and group learning. After the PAK is turned in, a test is given over the material of that PAK.


Alief Kerr Science Center

Instead of small traditional classrooms, Alief Kerr has large centers for each core subject. Every class in a specific subject is held in the subject's center. For example, all the science classes are held in the Science Center. This includes Anatomy, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, GMO, and Physics.[6] Centers hold 25-150 students. Teachers are responsible for more than one subject at a time. A science teacher may be teaching Chemistry I, Physics I, and AP Physics during the same period. The centers at Alief Kerr include Art, Business, English, Foreign Language, Journalism, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Webmastering/Computer Science, and Speech are all held in traditional type classrooms. While these classrooms are smaller than the major centers, the classes held in these classrooms still abide by Kerr's theme of independent learning and the PAK system.


Because of Kerr's unusual environment, traditional examination administration is difficult, especially when other classes are in the center. The three main testing administration methods at Kerr:

  • Teachers pull their students away from the center (into a smaller classroom) and administer the test themselves.
  • The whole center will have their tests due on the same date and turn into a testing zone. For example, all the science classes schedule their tests on the same date and close the center for testing on that particular date.
  • Student takes their test in the testing center.

The testing center is where tests are administered for most classes. A testing center clerk gives the correct test to the student when the student presents a testing pass. The student chooses a seat in the center, completes the test, and turns it in when completed. When the student turns in a test, the students are handed the last sheet of the testing pass to the student. This is proof that the student took a test.

Rankings and Acknowledgements[edit]

Kerr High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive, during the 2010-11 school year.[2]

TEA Acknowledgements[edit]

Alief Kerr achieved the Recognized status from the Texas Education Agency accountability ratings system in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 school years. For the 2009,2010 and 2011 school year, Alief Kerr received the highest recognition possible, Exemplary, from the TEA.[7]

2008 Texas Education Agency Gold Performance Acknowledgements Program

  • Advanced Course/Dual Enrollment Completion
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Results
  • Attendance Rate
  • Commended Performance: Reading/English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Commended Performance: Mathematics
  • Commended Performance: Social Studies
  • Comparable Improvement: Reading/ELA
  • Recommended High School Program/Distinguished Achievement Program
  • SAT/ACT Results
  • Texas Success Initiative-Higher Education Readiness Component:ELA
  • Texas Success Initiative-Higher Education Readiness Component:Mathematics

Children At Risk is a policy research and advocacy organization focused on improving children's quality of life. The organization ranks public high schools in eight counties of the Houston metro area.[8]

Kerr has done well on Children At Risk rankings annually. Kerr is currently ranked 5th in the Greater Houston Area.[9] Kerr is also ranked 4th best as a Math and Science school in the Houston area. In addition, Kerr was 10th "most improved" in the Houston area.[10]

Rating 2007 2008 2009 2010
Top HS in Houston 11 19 9 3
Top HS in Texas N/A N/A N/A 9
Top Math and Science HS in Houston N/A N/A N/A 4

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°41′28″N 95°38′04″W / 29.69111°N 95.634313°W / 29.69111; -95.634313