Education

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Texas high schools are preparing for major changes to graduation requirements. Under a new law, schools will have less standardized testing. But when it comes to implementing the new legislation, many questions are yet to be answered. 

The State Board of Education hashed out the details today of how to enforce the new high school graduation requirements that go into effect in the 2014-15 school year. Monica Martinez, managing director of curriculum for the Texas Education Agency, noted the challenges of implementing standards consistently statewide. 

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School starts in three weeks and, for many school districts across Texas, there’s still some confusion over whether teachers can use a system of lesson plans. The so-called CSCOPE lesson plans drew fire over allegations they promoted anti-American ideas. During the legislative session, Republican lawmakers announced Texas teachers would no longer use the plans and the non-profit, quasi-state agency that published them would cease to.

State Board of Education leaders say the controversy surrounding CSCOPE will most likely continue into the fall.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Picture 90 educational volunteers: That’s the number of AmeriCorps members the Austin school district is placing at two of its high schools for the next three years. 

It’s all part of the School Turnaround AmeriCorps initiative, a new program aimed at placing AmeriCorps members in some of the nation’s lowest performing schools. AISD was one of thirteen school districts that were chosen nationwide.  

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Heading to college is confusing under the best of circumstances. But for many young people aging out of foster care, the challenges can be almost impossible to overcome.

Some schools in Texas host programs each year aimed at trying to help foster kids make the transition.

Ted Ed Radio


The non-profit organization famous for its inspirational talks and videos, TED, has taken the lesson plan of an Austin school district teacher and turned it into an animated video series.

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Reducing the high school dropout rate in Texas by 50 percent could save the state $547 million in Medicaid spending annually, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education

The study finds raising education-attainment levels could reduce health-related costs – specifically surrounding obesity, tobacco and alcohol use and heart disease. 

"An educated citizen is a healthy, productive and happier citizen," Bob Wise, president of Alliance for Excellent Education, said in a statement released Wednesday.

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The University of Texas at Austin has evacuated six students from Egypt, according to Dr. Richard Flores, Senior Associate Dean at the university. A military coup there ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the country is in a transitional stage.

Flores says the UT undergraduates were evacuated to Morocco late Sunday night or early Monday morning for security reasons.

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A local mobile app development company is trying to fill 1,000 backpacks for poor kids in the Austin school district. The company, Headspring, is accepting money and backpacks filled with supplies, which will be distributed across five schools on Austin’s east side.

This week, forty five Texas high school students participated in the Texas School Safety Center's third annual Youth Preparedness Camp. It's a week-long camp in Kerrville, Texas, aimed to teach students how to respond to emergencies and  increase disaster preparedness in Texas communities. 

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The Texas Workforce Commission is awarding Austin Community College over $90,000 as part of its College Credit for Heroes program.

ACC is one of six colleges joining the program, which is designed to translate veterans’ military experience into college credit hours.

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This week the Eanes School District is holding a conference called iPadpalooza.

Every child in the district has an iPad and schools want to find ways to use them better.

The conference comes as the Center for American Progress released a study that says states don’t know how much investments like these in education technology are actually helping students. 

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

STAAR test results released last week show minimal gains compared to 2012. It was the second year students took the new standardized tests, which teachers and administrators say are more rigorous. 

Eanes ISD

Less than one percent of high school seniors across the country are named National Merit Scholars. Less than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT, score a perfect 36. And just four high school seniors from Texas were recognized as Presidential Scholars on Sunday.

Keyur Mehta – a recent Westlake grad – has earned all of these honors and more. He stopped by KUT before his trip to Washington, D.C.

KUT News

Asians and Asian-Americans will outnumber African-Americans in Austin over next several years, according to city estimates based on new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Austin Independent School District, where students speak 86 languages, is working to accommodate changing demographics.

Jeff Heimsath, KUT News

For many students, that summer between high school graduation and the first year of college is one of anticipation and excitement.

But for others, it can present roadblocks that can lead students to not attend college in the fall. 

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? 

Ann Choi KUT News

A study shows Central Texas students miss more school mostly because of illness. This study, done by a non-profit research group, E3 Alliance, surveyed nine schools in Austin area since 2011. 

The group argues that schools should track the reasons why students miss school. All Texas schools are required to record students' attendance to receive state reimbursement, but they are not mandated to document the specific reasons for the absence.  Excessive absences could especially affect Central Texas because the study indicates that students in this area missed more school days than the state average.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

This past school year, more than 86,000 students in the Austin Independent School District woke up and went to class each day. For a growing number of those children, their learning is happening inside portable classrooms. 

AISD has almost 650 portable classrooms. The district bought most of them in the 1980's and 1990's. But dozens were purchased before that – some as early as 1952. Many teachers and parents say time is taking its toll on what was supposed to be a temporary solution to deal with overcrowding. 

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A new report spotlights the success and shortfalls of summer lunch programs for Texas students.

The Food Research and Action Center found that the number of lunch programs across the state grew by 17 percent last year. However, these programs only reach about 11 percent of low-income children receiving school lunches.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

District Court Judge John Dietz said this morning he will hold a hearing to consider reopening the  Texas School Finance case to weigh the impacts of  changes made to education during the most recent legislative session. 

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