Education

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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 for 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. 

flickr.com/USDAGov

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. 

Courtesy of The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

The first graduating class at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders receives their diplomas this Saturday.

Among the graduates is 17-year-old Ana González, who was the subject of an Austin American-Statesman story profiling the school’s first grads.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

AISD says it will likely not grant health benefits to domestic partners of employees. The school district will wait until a federal court decides on the issue.

This is after AISD announced in March it would extend health benefits to domestic partners, which includes same sex and unmarried couples.

KUT News

AISD's Chief Finance Officer, Nicole Conley, presented a revised proposed $879 million  budget for the next fiscal year Monday night.

She said although Texas public schools may be getting $3.9 billion dollars restored from the $5.4 billion state lawmakers cut in 2011, AISD isn’t expecting much of a benefit locally from the partial funding restoration. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night for the elementary and middle schools that feed into Eastside Memorial High.

Eastside hasn’t been meeting academic standards and could be shut down. In an effort to keep it open, the board approved a partnership with Johns Hopkins last month.  But that program’s plan didn’t include an outline of what should happen at feeder schools.

flickr.com/joshmaz

Expect traffic congestion around the Frank Erwin Center to pick up over the next couple of days as area schools celebrate high school graduations.

Westlake High School students will get their diplomas at the Erwin Center tonight. Three other high schools have graduations scheduled there on Saturday: Hendrickson High School (9 a.m.), Pflugerville High School (11 a.m.) and Connally High School (1 p.m.).

If Snigdha Nandipati, the 14-year-old who won last year's Scripps National Spelling Bee, had been asked to define her winning word, "guetapens," things might have turned out differently.

This year, a vocabulary test with word definitions is, for the first time in the bee's 86-year history, part of the competition. Preliminary and semifinal contestants must pass the test to get to the finals of the grueling competition.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

State Sen. Kel Seliger has re-filed a bill in the special session allowing state universities to issue Tuition Revenue Bonds for capital projects.

However, lawmakers wouldn't be able to take up the issue unless Gov. Rick Perry adds it to the list of  topics for the special session.

Rune Mathisen/Texas Tribune

Students should be getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. That exercise could happen before, during or after school.

The study also recommends the U.S. Department of Education declare physical education a core subject.

Bill Kohl, who led the committee that wrote the report, says physical activity improves learning in the classroom.

Juan Carlos/Flickr

Middle and elementary school students craving a Coke during the school day may be in trouble.

A bill that would ban the sale of sugary drinks in Texas middle and elementary schools is heading to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for final approval.

National Geographic

Update: Chinmay Murthy, the 5th grader representing Texas in the National Geographic Bee, did not move on past the preliminary round of the Bee.  He missed a chance to qualify in the Top Ten by two questions. Murthy is vowing to try again next year.

Original Story (9:18 a.m.): Monday marks the start of the three-day National Geographic Bee in Washington D.C.

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