Education

Education
8:40 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New AISD Board To Examine IDEA Charter Contract (Update)

Allan Elementary school
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The Austin School Board will continue to talk about the district’s contract with IDEA Public Schools at its regular meeting later this month.

Right now, IDEA is just operating at Allan Elementary. But the charter will grow to include more grades and expand into Eastside Memorial if the board doesn’t make a decision to end or change the contract before the end of the year. Board member Rev. Dr. Jayme Mathias proposed that the contract continue but be changed to keep IDEA from expanding into Eastside Memorial next school year.

Under his proposal, IDEA would continue to include more grades but, instead of moving on to the Eastside Memorial campus, seventh graders would stay at Allan.

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Education
12:58 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Texas Education Commissioner Defers STAAR Grading Policy

Education Commissioner Michael Williams (left) deferred the STAAR requirement, a day after Gov. Perry (right) suggested so.
Williams photo Texas Education Agency; Perry photo Gage Skidmore

For the second year in a row, end of course exams won’t necessarily count toward 15 percent of a students’ final grade.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced today that school districts will be allowed to apply for a waiver to the rule for the 2012-13 school year.

“You know we have to recognize that we are only in the second of the accountability system and the first year of testing,” Williams said. “There probably is some wisdom in saying, ‘Pump your brakes.’”

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Education
10:30 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Texas Posts Top High School Graduation Rates, But Why?

Brian Gurrola for Texas Tribune

With witnesses in a school finance trial testifying daily on the challenges facing public education in the state, and with a chorus of state leaders citing the failings of traditional public schools in calling for reform, some may be surprised to hear that by one measure, Texas schools appear to be doing quite well.

Preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Education this week shows that Texas — along with five other states — ranks fourth in the nation for its four-year high school graduation rates. With an overall rate of 86 percent in the 2010-11 school year, the state follows Iowa, with 88 percent, and Wisconsin and Vermont, both at 87 percent.

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Education
2:59 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Gov. Perry Wants to Fast Track Vocational Certification in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry announced the creation of a Skilled Workforce Initiatve Tuesday.
KUT News

Governor Perry announced his intention Tuesday to launch a Skilled Workforce Initiative in Texas to address demand for certified, highly-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.

The initiative would reduce the time it takes for students to earn vocational certification in certain high-demand fields, such as manufacturing and industrial business. Under the initiative, certification programs will award credit to students who enter the program already possessing some experience and skills necessary for certification.  Backers hope the program will allow students to get certified and begin filling jobs more quickly, while also saving them time and money by allowing them to bypass lessons on subjects they’ve already mastered.

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Education
6:56 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Texas School Districts, Charters Are Finalists in Federal Competition

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

By the end of the year, a few Texas school districts may have access to millions in funding that Gov. Rick Perry had passed on two years ago because of concerns about federal intrusion into Texas classrooms.

Since Texas refused to participate in Race to the Top at the state level in 2010, the Obama administration has rolled out a new version of its signature education program to allow districts to apply individually for a separate pot of about $400 million in federal money. Administration officials announced the new round of competition that would emphasize data-driven personalized student learning plans in 2011, after three phases of the state-based contest.

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Pakistan
1:55 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

In Tribal Pakistan, Radio Spreads Word of Free Education

Freshly admitted students at Government High School Razmak.
Tayyeb Afridi for KUT News

Tayyeb Afridi is a journalist from the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan, a region that borders Afghanistan. He visited KUT in May 2011 on a US Pakistan Journalism Exchange through the International Center for Journalists. You can read his blog at tayyebafridi.blogspot.com.

A local radio station in Pakistan’s unsettled tribal area shows how important media can be in spreading awareness of the importance of education. About 180 new students turned up at one government school in the town of Razmak in North Waziristan after the local radio station broadcast announcements telling parents that education in government schools was free. Most local parents thought they would have to pay for schooling.   

Razmak Radio was established in 2006 to bridge the gap between people and their government. It has started a public service announcement (PSA) campaign to educate people on development issues. It designed PSAs in March and broadcast them throughout the month to motivate local people to enroll their children in school.

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Austin
11:50 am
Fri November 23, 2012

UT’s New Strategy for Helping Students Find the Door

UT's continues to encourage a speedier graduation rate for their students.

The University of Texas’ graduation rate is under scrutiny as the school attempts different ways to increase the number of students graduating in four years.

In February a task force assembled by UT President Bill Powers offered 60 suggestions to encourage students to earn their degree more quickly.

In late August and early September, UT began a sort of branding campaign. The number 2016 (signifying the graduation date for incoming freshmen) began to appear all around campus: on shirts, on tote bags, and even on Twitter (as #2016 became a popular hashtag).

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Education
4:15 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

There's Oil on Them Thar Campuses!

Students in environmental science professor Jeffery Stone's class watch as a seismic shaker truck rolls through Indiana State University's campus.
Tony Campbell Courtesy of Indiana State University

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 5:14 pm

Imagine going to college and finding an oil rig on campus. That's becoming increasingly likely as oil and gas companies use a controversial technique commonly referred to as fracking to extract resources from land underneath campuses across the country.

Environmental science professor Jeffery Stone will never forget the day the earth shook on Indiana State University's campus in Terre Haute.

"They did it like in eight-second pulses, and you could feel the whole sidewalk wobble like an earthquake almost," Stone says.

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AISD
7:38 am
Tue November 20, 2012

New AISD Board Members Take Oath (Update)

New members will soon take to the dais at AISD headquarters.
KUT News

Update (Nov. 20, 7:38 a.m.): The dynamics of the Austin School Board of Trustees continue to shift. The board voted to elect officers last night—including two newcomers.

Vince Torres, District 4, will move from Vice President to President—replacing Mark Williams, who decided not to seek another term.

New member Gina Hinajosa, At Large Position 8, was picked to take Torres' place.

Another new member, Jayme Mathias, District 2, is taking over the role of Secretary. Lori Moya, District 6, had served in the role.

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Round Rock ISD
5:04 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Beyond 'Abstinence Only:' Round Rock School Board Revisits Sex Ed (Update)

Round Rock ISD is dicussing bringing contraceptives talk into the classroom.
flickr.com/peachy92

Update: The proposal addressing sex education standards has been withdrawn from the Round Rock school board agenda, according to the Austin American-Statesman. It writes that the health advisory committee that recommended the change was improperly assembled. It's uncertain at this time when (or if) the proposal will return for consideration.

Original post (11:57 a.m.): The Round Rock Independent School District’s Board of Education will be meeting tonight and sex education is on the agenda.

The board will discuss an implementation plan to teach students about contraceptives, a break from current "abstinence only" standards.

The discussion started back in August when the board received the School Health Advisory Committee’s annual report that recommended contraceptives be introduced at the eighth-grade level.

The board met again in October. Health professionals provided the board with data that indicated the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing in Round Rock, compared with surrounding communities.

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Education
7:15 am
Mon November 5, 2012

State College Funding Turns on Definition of 'Provide'

About 13 percent of UT's expenses are provided by the state.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Constitution says the state will “provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a University of the first class.”

In 1984, that meant about half of every dollar in higher education came out of the state budget. Today, it’s closer to 13 percent at the University of Texas at Austin and 22 percent at Texas A&M University in College Station.

So, at that level, is the state really providing for the sort of education championed in its founding document?

That’s fodder for debate. Lawyers could probably generate a room full of words over the obligations imparted by the word “provide.” The bigger question is whether the state is doing enough, and whether doing enough — whatever that entails — necessarily requires more money.

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Education
7:47 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Automatic Admission to UT Getting More Difficult

Some future students will have to rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class for automatic admission.
KUT News

The class rank requirements for automatic admission into the University of Texas at Austin are getting more stringent.

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class.

That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.

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Austin
2:05 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Mapping the Future of AISD

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is inviting community input at a public hearing tonight about the 2013–2014 Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations (AAFR) tonight at the Carruth Administration Center on West Sixth Street.

There are a several important issues on the AAFR, the most polarizing being single-sex schools, improvements for athletic facilities and fine arts programs, and the expansion of the dual language program.

Here's a roundup:

  • The conversion of two middle schools to Single-Sex schools in northeast Austin were talked about back in August, but a School for Young Men was often left out of the headlines. The proposed School for Young Men would be college and career preparatory academy that develops a community of leadership and character centered young men. Enrollment could start as early as next school year.
  • The recommendation to improve athletic facilities has three potential proposals to throw out to community members with price ranges from $82 million to $179 million. Increased pay and flexible schedules for coaches are included within these proposals.

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Education
4:50 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Public Hearing Tonight on AISD Bond

The Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee is coming up with a list of the district's top spending priorities.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District’s Citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee is asking for public input on the district’s bond program this evening.

The committee is hosting a public hearing from 6:30 - 9 p.m. at Reagan High School (7104 Berkman Dr.).

Those wishing to speak should sign up at the high school before the meeting or submit comments on the district’s website.

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Education
2:52 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

UT System Offers Free Online Courses - But College Credit Still Costs You

The University of Texas System logo is already featured on the edX welcome page.
edX

The University of Texas System Board of regents voted unanimously this morning to join an initiative to provide free online courses to anyone through a non-profit organization called edX.

Right now, classes offered through edX are not for college credit. Instead, participants can earn a "certificate of mastery." But the UT System has plans to change that in order to help enrolled students take the classes they need.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says that option would have a cost associated with it.

“What that tuition might be is going to have to be a decision made by the campus and, ultimately, by the board of regents," Cigarroa says. "So I can envision a multi-tiered approach. But, fundamentally, all the content that we provide in this massively open online course, you can have access for free, I can have access for free, our alumni can have access for free. But there’s also an opportunity for a multi-tiered approach.”

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Education
12:32 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Georgetown Voters Approve Tax Rate Increase for Schools

The first day of school at McCoy Elementary in Georgetown ISD. Georgetown voters approved a tax increase for their schools, but the new revenue will only maintain existing services.
Georgetown Independent School District

The Georgetown school district says the extra money it will receive from higher tax rates won’t be enough to fill the gap left by state cuts to public education.

Georgetown voters decided yesterday that they would be willing to pay more money to fund their public schools. How much more depends on the value of their property, but the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an extra $80 a year. About 3,500 voters approved the tax ratification election 59 to 41 percent.

GISD has been struggling since the state legislature slashed public education spending by more than $5.4 billion last year. The district eliminated more than 200 employee positions, froze salaries and benefits, and stopped all major capital spending.

The higher tax rate will inject $2.1 million into school district coffers, but GISD spokesperson Brad Domitrovich says it won’t be enough to make up for state cuts.

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Education
11:56 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Should Texas Embrace Virtual Schools?

Lawmakers heard this morning about virtual schooling in Texas.
flickr.com/sammers05

The Texas Senate Education Committee is holding a hearing to address virtual education and its growing use in Texas. Committee members will hear testimony on virtual education and recommendations to improve programs that are underperforming. 

Texas offers both supplemental and full-time virtual education. Students in supplemental programs take online courses in addition to attending traditional face-to-face classes. Those enrolled in virtual schools full-time get all of their instruction online and don’t receive any classroom instruction.

The number of students enrolled in virtual schools in Texas is growing rapidly. Raise Your Hand Texas, an education policy non-profit, reports that enrollment in virtual education programs grew 97 percent in the past six years. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 17,000 Texas students were enrolled in supplemental online courses.  Last school year, 6,000 students were enrolled in full-time virtual programs. 

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Education
11:44 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Like $10,000 Degree, Perry Tuition Plan May Not Fit All

Texas Science Scholar Wesley Powers, a junior chemistry major from Midland, Texas, works on a 3-hour-long lab experiment at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.
Jerod Foster for Texas Tribune

Ashton Curlee, the ambitious daughter of two teachers, received official notification of her acceptance to the new Texas Science Scholar Program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on the first day of college.

“It’s a really awesome program,” said Curlee, a native of Monahans. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes along with it.”

Savings top that list. If Curlee stays on track, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 30 hours of course work each school year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016. Instead of paying more than $6,300 per academic year in tuition and fees — the current cost for a regular student — Curlee will pay $2,500 per year.

That adds up to a $10,000 degree, a notion that has taken on grail-like status in some Texas higher education circles as the state struggles to address rising tuition at its public universities.

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Education
4:20 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Texas SAT Scores Drop, But Participation Rates Surge

Shannan Muskop, Texas Tribune

A report from the Texas Education Agency on the state's 2012 SAT scores shows two things about Texas students over the past five years: more students are the taking the test, but they aren't performing as well.

More students are taking the college admissions test — especially Hispanics and blacks, whose participation rates have increased by 65 and 42 percent, respectively, since 2007. Students' scores, though, decreased from 2o11 by about five points across the board in reading, math and writing, continuing the downward trend of the past five years. 

“We are clearly building a college-going culture in Texas. The increased minority participation is important to the health of this state because of our changing demographics,” said Commissioner Michael Williams in a statement.

About 58 percent of 2012's graduating class took the SAT, which was about a 6 percent increase from the year before.

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Higher Education
9:17 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry Calls for College Tuition Freeze

Gov. Perry speaking at the second annual Texas Tribune Festival. Gov. Perry called for a four-year college tuition freeze.
Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he'll call for a four-year college tuition freeze. The comment was made at a Q&A session with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend.

In the interview, Perry proposed that students who enter college as freshmen could lock in a four-year tuition rate, says Texas Tribune Reporter Jay Root, who live-blogged the event. However, if a student takes longer than four years to graduate, he or she could face tuition increases.

Perry also said he is open to an “open and vigorous debate” about in-state tuition costs and supported providing in-state tuition for some children of undocumented immigrants.

Perry's announcement came just a day before The Dallas Morning News announced that Texas students are paying 55 percent more for tuition and fees at state universities than they were a decade ago. According to the analysis, tuition has increased three percent this year alone.

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