Education

Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

Mengwen Cao for KUT

For some Austin residents in the Windsor Park neighborhood, the problems began two years ago. That's when charter school Austin Achieve built a new school right next to the neighborhood — 16 feet away from some homes, to be exact. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

When students graduate high school, people typically say they have the whole world ahead of them. But some of their future can be predicted just by looking at their high school transcript. New data show that if students in Central Texas take advanced math courses, they have a higher chance of graduating college.


Arithmetic is just a fancy word for Math, right? Actually, they mean two different things. In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explain what "arithmetic" means; what "math" means; and why it matters to our learning and lives.


Nearly 100 students enter the gym at the Texas A&M International University in Laredo. They’re practicing for their graduation. As they enter, "Pomp and Circumstance" fills the gymnasium as it's played into a microphone off a phone. 

Principal Israel Castilla takes the students through the ceremony.

"You’re going to be shaking hands and then you have three seconds with the picture," Castilla says.

These students, though, aren’t graduating from college. These are high school students, but many of them are already halfway toward a college degree – thanks to their school: Laredo Early College High School.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

These stories were produced in partnership with PRI's Global Nation project.

For many first-generation college students, high school graduation is seen as a major milestone for them and their families.

Many of those students in Austin say they wouldn’t have graduated or been accepted to college without the help of Breakthrough Austin. It’s a non-profit that helps first generation college students get their degree.

Many immigrant parents who did not graduate high school or college struggle to navigate the education system in the United States. 

Breakthrough meets these students in middle school, pairs the students with a counselor and help them get into good high schools in Austin and succeed academically.

They also help them understand the college application and the financial aid processes.

This week, some of those graduating students and their families share their stories. 

Eureka! You know that moment when you feel like you've come up with something completely original? Well, consider this: Is it actually possible to come up with totally new thinking, given all the information that influences our thought? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton respond to a listener's request to compare and contrast synthesized thinking and original thought.


Jon Shapley for KUT

New data from the education non-profit, E3 Alliance, shows that students who enter kindergarten and speak a language other than English are actually twice as likely to pass the third grade STAAR test.


Photo by Texas Education Agency / The Texas Tribune

As displeasure with Texas’ standardized testing regime mounts, all eyes are on a special panel the Legislature created last year to figure out whether to scrap the widely reviled STAAR exam.

Anxiety seems to come with the territory - at least some of the time - in school. Students worry about tests and grades or about trying to learn material that's unfamiliar or tough. But does anxiety really have to be part of the learning process? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton chill out and discuss the role of anxiety in learning.


Mengwen Cao / KUT

School’s out, but the Austin School Board is already thinking about classes next fall. The board wants to talk about adding an ethnic studies course in the district, and some school board members want to make the class a graduation requirement.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

Ella is 14 years old. She loves theater and clothes. She's smart, too.  She was on the Kealing Middle School quiz bowl team, an academic quiz like "Jeopardy." She was also accepted into the Austin ISD’s best high school next year: the Liberal Arts and Science Academy.  

A.....B......C.... at the end of the school year, many students are eager to see their final grades. But what is the real value of those grades? What happens when higher and higher grades are awarded for work that may not actually be that much better? In this episode of KUT's podcast "Higher Ed," Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore the phenomenon of grade inflation.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

For nearly five million students in the U.S., English isn’t their first language. In Austin ISD, some of those students are sent to a special school for international students, a school where dozens of languages are spoken. There, the idea is to help the students learn English before sending them back to their neighborhood high school. But something else happens as well.


Mengwen Cao / KUT News

There’s a fight brewing at City Hall over what regulations Austin charter schools must abide by to build new facilities. City staff says there are loopholes that allow charters to construct buildings without the same regulations as other public school districts, but charter schools disagree.


Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Austin’s Robert E. Lee Elementary school has a new name: Russell Lee. The Austin School Board voted 8-1 to change the name Monday night. But for some school board members, the decision wasn't an easy one.


If you only had one class left to take in school, what would it be? During this graduation season,  Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT's Jennifer Stayton explore what that last class could - or should? - be, and making the transition from formal education to lifelong learning.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

At 3 p.m., the computer lounge at the Pflugerville Public Library is bustling. College sophomore Emily Margaretich is hard at work trying to sign up for summer classes on her college’s website. When she’s done with that, she’ll deal with financial aid and do some online banking.

Margaretich does all this work in the library, because she and her mom don’t have home internet access. 


In this "Best of" Higher Ed episode, KUT's Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger reflect on what commencement means and discuss what most students actually take away from their college experiences.  It may not be exactly what you'd expect.


Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Jason Unbound

From the Texas Tribune – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued a ruling upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, while asserting it could be better. 

“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” Justice Don Willett wrote in the court’s 100-page opinion, which asserted that the court’s “lenient standard of review in this policy-laden area counsels modesty.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Three years ago, state lawmakers approved a pilot program in Austin that allows adults up to 50 years old to go back to school to earn their high school diplomas. And over the last 18 months, the Excel Charter School has graduated 75 former high school drop-outs.

While Texas law allows students up to 25 years old to enroll in high school, once a person turns 26, their options are limited to getting a GED.

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