austin isd

Roy Varney / KUT

Austin public school students in fourth and eighth grade scored higher in math and reading than students in other large cities, according to results from a new government study released Wednesday. 

The report looks at results from a national standardized test given to 21 urban school districts with populations of 250,000 people or more. It’s part of the National Center for Education Statistics' National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

While the results are positive, the scores remained relatively flat from 2011 –  the last time Austin students took the test.

KUT News

If you attended your first Austin school board meeting Monday night, you would have never guessed Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has ever received criticism from school board members, the teachers union, Education Austin, or the Austin community.

Austin School Board President Vincent Torres commended the superintendent in the board's annual evaluation, recognizing the challenges the district faces and outlining the district's achievements over the last year. He highlighted improved graduation rates, dual language programs, early childhood education, and the superintendent's ability to balance the budget in the face of continued cuts from the state.

Jenna Macaroni http://instagram.com/p/fMOLxAjT29/

When you were in high school, wouldn’t you have loved to have a cool band play in your gym? I remember trying to get the band Karp to play my high school in the 1990s, but the teacher who sponsored the student council balked once he heard what they sound like. Instead, they spent the money on a Top 40 video dance party with fog machines. 

But last night, Anderson High School in Austin ISD did what my high school could never do: They hosted a secret show for the French dance-rockers Phoenix. (While considerably more accessible than any post-hardcore band, it's a remarkable achievement nonetheless.)

“Seriously how the hell does Anderson book Phoenix to play a gig at their school and Pflugerville gets Granger Smith #injustice,” tweeted one envious teen.

“Phoenix at Anderson? Lucky bastards,” said another.

Indeed. So, how did it happen?

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin Independent School District employees will start to learn more today about adding an unmarried partner to their health insurance benefits.

The AISD board approved last night expanding benefits to people a district spokesman calls the “unmarried, committed” partners of regular, full-time AISD employees.

KUT News

Today is the first day of school for Austin ISD, and that means nearly 90,000 students filling hallways. Meria Carstarphen, AISD’s superintendent, sees the biggest challenges in a successful year as student safety, school funding, and STAAR testing.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

For at least fifty years, the Austin Independent School District has used portable classrooms as a way to relieve overcrowding. Yesterday, KUT reported more than half of the nearly 650 portables are over 25 years old – some are more than 50 years old. Many teachers and parents say portables conditions are poor.

But what – if anything – can the school district can do about it? 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District saw minimal gains on this year’s STAAR tests compared to last year.

Reading, math, science and social studies passage rates each increased by three percentage points from the previous year. Students showed the best results in reading with 79 percent passing in all demographics – including racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin voters rejected two out of four school bonds on Saturday. At $892 million, it was the largest proposed bond in AISD history.

We spoke with local education reporter Laura Heinauer to learn more. Click the player above to hear our conversation as it aired on KUT. 

KUT News

Update: Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote in the May election.

If you’ve moved since the last time you voted – you’ll have to register again. In Travis County, you can register in person at one of tax office locations, mail in an application – which are available at post offices and libraries, or update your information online.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update:  Austin school district police say John Joseph Vasquez, a Blazier Elementary school teacher, was arrested Monday for alleged aggravated sexual assault and improper relationship between an educator and a student.

On April 1, the parent of a former AISD student contacted district police alleging the student had been assaulted as a first grader from January to March of 2011. District police conducted a forensic interview with the child, who did not wish to be identified. Police also conducted a short interview with the suspect. District Police Chief Eric Mendez says there may have been multiple incidences, but the investigation is still ongoing. Mendez says there is no reason to believe there are other victims. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Texas schools and school districts will be labeled from A to F starting next school year.

The new system will replace the current labels that range from academically unacceptable to exemplary. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams explained his decision today to the state’s Senate Education Committee.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The American Civil Liberties Union wants information from the Austin school district about its plans to convert Pearce and Garcia middle schools into single-sex campuses.

The school board approved the controversial plan in January as part of its effort to improve educational outcomes at the two struggling campuses in northeast Austin. The plan takes effect in the 2014-2015 school year.

KUT News

A lawsuit filed today accuses the Austin school district of withholding public information on plans for Eastside Memorial High School.

AISD says it needs to find a third party to help run the troubled school to prevent the state from taking it over. Eastside has not met state academic accountability standards for nearly a decade.

But Steve Swanson, a member of the school’s campus advisory committee, says repeated open-records requests he’s submitted to the district have not turned up planning process documents for the campus. So he’s suing in Travis County District Court.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The new elementary school being built in north Austin now has a name: Dr. Janis Guerrero Thompson Elementary. The Austin Independent School District Board voted last night to approve the name.

Dr. Guerrero Thompson was a native Austinite who taught high school in AISD and later worked as the district’s Executive Director for Planning and Community Relations.

KUT News

A high school on Austin’s east side is once again facing the possibility of state closure. Eastside Memorial High has received the state stamp of academically unacceptable since 2004. In 2008 it was closed and reopened with a new name -- it used to be Johnston High School.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Today is the deadline to apply for priority school transfers in the Austin Independent School District for next school year.

Non-priority transfers to be considered during the first-round lottery selection are also due today. All applications need to be delivered in person to the Office of Student Services at the Carruth Administration Center by 5 p.m. or postmarked by today’s date.

Applications that aren't received by today will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis when space is available at the desired school. All transfer requests for the fall of 2014 must be received by Aug. 12.

Austin Feldman

Austin elementary school students performed strongly in the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams. Middle schoolers didn't do quite as well.

Overall, the AISD passing rates for the STAAR—the standardized test that replaces the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS)—ranged from 82 percent in third and fourth grade reading to 58 percent in eighth grade social studies. Passing rates for most tests topped 70 percent.

flickr.com/alamosbasement

The Austin Independent School District is inviting the public to weigh-in this evening on a potential bond package.

The nearly $900 million bond proposal could go before voters as soon as May. Among other things, it proposes adding four new elementary schools to address overcrowding.

KUT News

The Austin Independent School Board will meet behind closed doors this evening. According to the executive session agenda, they may discuss possible lawsuits surrounding the district’s decision to cancel its contract with IDEA Public Schools.

In December, the board voted 5 to 4 to cancel the contract that hired IDEA to run an in-district charter at Allan Elementary.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

A plan to spend almost $889 million on upgrades to buildings and facilities in the Austin school district school will be presented to the school board for consideration tonight. The recommended bond package is the result of months of work by a citizens advisory committee.

The bond package proposal is divided into four separate parts:  $350 million for critical repairs, $264 million to help build more schools and add classrooms to alleviate overcrowding, $131 million to be spent on fixing cafeterias, technology and science labs and energy conservation, and another $145 million on facility improvements for fine arts, athletics, career and technology, special education.  You can read the breakdown in this AISD document

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