Houston High school has been an all around amazing experience for me, the faculty and staff is very organized and orderly. The classes are very advanced and in the end pay off. As long as you abide by the rules and if you're respectful towards staff you will have an excellent experience. Named one of the number one high schools in America by Newsweek. That's an amazing achievement in my opinion. But if you chose Houston be prepared for lots of studying. Once again every class is taken seriously and you'll only succeed if you try. Good luck! :)
Academically, the most objective guage would be the students average ACT score for seniors. Houstons are VERY high. Probably the highest of Shelby county schools. Possibly better than many private schools. My son graduated two years ago and was ranked 125 of around 430 students. And he had a weighted GPA of 3.7. He had a 30 on his ACT. I have a Journalism major from an SEC school and he was a better writer in High School than after I graduated from college. He had a 34 in English on his ACT. He hated his 9th grade English teacher. She was brutally tough teaching classes as hard or harder than most community colleges. Guess what. He is an English major in college and it is all easy for him now. My kids feel safe there. The teachers, as always, vary in quality. Every semester they are going to have one mediocre teacher and every year or two they will have a bad one. Just like every other school in the world. But, on the whole the teachers range from good to fantastic. We were very happy. The administration is accomodating. If you child is emotionally and academically prepared there is a good chance you experience will be very good and you will be pleased.
Houston appears to be an extremely good school overall; it has been fabulous for my boys (currently a junior and a freshman) so far. It is large enough (1600+) that I can't speak to everything, but I know that parental expectations and support are both high, leadership is outstanding, and counselors and teachers willingly work with parents and students to achieve great outcomes. With regard to some earlier comments: the band does take a lot of after-school time during marching competition season (Sep-Oct), but not as much as a sport would; and while a student or parent might be unhappy with some perceived weakness in the Spanish courses that does not mean the school is weak in foreign languages - judging by a neighbor's result, there is a strong program in French, and the German teacher, a native speaker, is incredibly dynamic and effective (there is also Latin, but I don't know anything about it at Houston.) Sadly, the great Geometry teacher mentioned last year (and she was great) has retired, but my junior has been very well-served in every Math class through Calculus. There are some outstanding private schools in Memphis, but my sons are getting a better education at HHS.
This school has great English and Geometry Teacher, but really weak in foreign language (spanish) and AP Math/physics teachers. So watch out Kids who are going to be a Freshman or a Junior. Great Band program but lot of after school time is focused on this. Good luck current students and new students.