Education

Education
9:30 am
Wed January 30, 2013

AISD STAAR Passing Rate Higher/Lower Than Statewide

AISD elementary school students had higher passing rates than the statewide rate but middle schoolers had lower passing rates.
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.

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University of Texas
1:55 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Powers: 'Smarter Systems' Could Save UT-Austin $490 Million

The Committee says UT lags behind in faculty salaries, graduate student funding, undergraduate scholarships, and facilities amongst other public unviersities.
KUT News

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers says UT could save up to $490 million dollars over a decade by changing its operations system.  

Powers presented the cost-cutting recommendations, "Smarter Systems for a Greater UT "at a press conference today. The recommendation came from a committee of local business leaders Powers put together last April. The committee put forward measures raising the prices of housing, food and parking, outsourcing some parts of UT’s operation and commercializing UT-generated technology.

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Education
10:47 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Weigh-In Tonight on AISD's $900M Bond Proposal

Classroom and school overcrowding is one issue addressed by the bond.
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.

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Education
7:49 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Expert: Arming Teachers Could Make Them Targets

Non-public safety responders carrying guns are "at a high risk of being shot," says one expert.
flickr.com/wmode

Allowing teachers to carry concealed handguns could make them targets in a school shooting, according to one law enforcement expert who testified before lawmakers Monday. State Senators held a joint committee hearing to hear ideas on improving safety in public schools in the wake of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed 26 lives. 

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Education
5:23 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Is UT's New Conflict of Interest Policy Too Broad?

The University of Texas's conflict of interest policy is causing some unrest among a few UT professors.
KUT News

Some professors at the University of Texas are raising concerns over the university’s new conflict of interest policy.


UT put the the new policy into place in August 2012.  It requires faculty to disclose their financial information and the financial information of their spouse or dependent child whenever there is the possibility of a conflict of interest. The policy follows two controversial incidents last summer, when two UT professors were accused of conflicts of interest relating to studies they published.

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Education
12:00 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Texas Lawmakers to Discuss School Safety Policy Changes

flickr.com/alamosbasement

Texas lawmakers are coming together to talk about school safety this afternoon.

The Senate Committee on Education is meeting with the Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security to review current student safety policies and to discuss the potential for any policy changes.

Senators will hearing from both the public and experts about how improvements can be made to school safety.

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2013 Legislative Session
11:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Texas Lawmakers Hear From Universities About Funding Needs

UT is planning to replace the Engineering-Science Building with a $310 million building.
Bobby Blanchard for KUT News

Preliminary budgets in the Texas Legislature show cuts to higher education funding. Today and Monday, state lawmakers will hear from individual state universities and university systems about what funding they need.

The state’s higher education institutions will present their funding requests to the Texas Senate Finance Committee. The Texas State University System, the Texas Tech University System, the University of Houston System and the University of North Texas System will present today. The University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems will speak to the committee on Monday.

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Education
7:28 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Sen. Patrick Backs New Group Seeking School Overhauls

Tiffany Szerpicki, Texas Tribune

A new group promoting charter schools and other overhauls to public education has the backing of State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), the powerful chair of the Senate Education Committee. Patrick stood with leaders of the new organization -- Texans Deserve Great Schools (TDGS) -- as they outlined their goals, which included more stringent teacher and principal evaluations, more punitive policies for failing schools and a removal of the cap on Texas charter schools.

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Education
3:11 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Texas A&M Announces Plan To Grow Engineering Program

Chancellor of the Texas A&M System John Sharp discusses conference realignment with Evan Smith at TribLive on September 29, 2011.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

When Dr. M. Katherine Banks took over as the dean of Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University and vice chancellor for engineering at Texas A&M University System last year, she encountered a few surprises.

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Education
6:55 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

AISD Public Hearing Tonight

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees will hold a public meeting to discuss a nearly $900 million bond proposal tonight at Crockett High School in South Austin. 

Education
4:57 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Perry: Texas Education Spending Had 'Phenomenal' Growth

Gov. Rick Perry does not see the need to restore public education aid
KUT News

By the state’s own reckoning, Texas’ population increased four percent  increase from 2011 to 2013.  And Lawmakers cut education spending by more than $5 billion last session. But Gov. Rick Perry says education spending has outpaced statewide enrollment growth, and by a wide margin.

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Education
2:46 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Texas Teacher Salaries Continue Slow Rise

Propsective teachers hunt for jobs at a career fair in 2011
KUT News

Texas public school teachers saw their salaries rise slightly last year, but it was still among the lowest pay raises in the last decade. The Texas Association of School Boards published its annual teacher salary survey today. TASB’s human resources chief Cindy Clegg says the average teacher salary increased by 1.6 percent in the 2012-13 school year to $49,139.

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Education
1:57 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Could AISD Be Sued for Cancelling Its IDEA Contract?

IDEA Public Schools took over operations at Allan Elementary last Fall.
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.

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Education
8:18 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Texas High School Graduation Above National Average

Texas sits roughly in the middle of the pack when it comes to four-year high school graduation rates.
National Center for Education Statistics

A new study shows Texas' four-year high school graduation rate rose to 78.9 percent in 2009-2010, putting the Lone Star State above the national average of 78.2 percent.

A federal study released by the National Center of Education Statistics shows that Texas' four-year graduation rate increased from its previous study, from 73.1 percent in the 2006-2007 school year to 78.9 percent in 2009-2010.

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School Finance
5:04 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Industry Leader: Texas Businesses Can't Find Qualified Applicants

Businesses say jobs require training that prospects don't have
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond testified in the ongoing school finance trial yesterday, saying that Texas businesses can’t find applicants that have the academic and professional skills required. Hammond says that the most educated segment of Texas’ workforce is the soon-to-be retired.

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Education
7:35 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Public School Proponents Slam School Voucher Plan

Louis Malfaro, Julie Shields, and Janna Lilly, members of The Coalition for Public Schools, discuss downside of private school voucher system
Ann Choi, KUT news

The political battle over Texas public schools is heating up as the legislative session shifts into gear. In addition to  arguments over whether to restore $5.4 billion cut from public education in 2011, two high profile Senate Republicans want a school voucher system that would give low income students a shot at attending a private school. But critics say all vouchers do is strip money from the public education system and hand it over to private schools.

“We’re going to allow businesses to deduct up to 25 percent of what they would pay in the franchise tax, and that money will go to a non-profit to be distributed to families based on need," State Senator Dan Patrick has explained. "By doing this, we are going to give them an opportunity to get a scholarship if they so choose to send their child to that private school.” So-called "tax credit scholarships" exist in about a dozen states. 

On Thursday, a nonprofit group, the Coalition for Public Schools, argued fiercely against the measure. In a news conference at the Capitol, the Coalition said the State needs to invest more in the existing public school system.

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Lake Travis ISD
2:13 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Lockdown Lifted at Lake Travis ISD Schools

Update 3:45pm: Lake Travis ISD says nothing has been found in the area where a suspicious person was reported and the lockdown has been lifted at all schools. 

Update 2:35pm: The lockdown has been lifted at Lake Travis ISD schools, except for Lake Travis Elementary School and the district's Education Development Center, where the report of suspicious activity originated.

Update 2:15pm: Lake Travis ISD spokesman Marco Alvarado says the lockdown was in response to a report of suspicious activity at the district's Education Development Center near Lake Travis Elementary. 

Alvarado said there were no reports of any weapons at this point.

EARLIER: All schools in Lake Travis are on lockdown, following reports of a suspicious individual at an unnamed building. 

Schools in the Lake Travis ISD include Lake Travis High School, Hudson Bend Middle School , Lake Travis Middle School, Bee Cave Elementary School, Lake Pointe Elementary School, Lake Travis Elementary School, Lakeway Elementary School, and Serene Hills Elementary School.  

No more details are available at this time; KUT News is waiting to hear back from the Lakeway Police Department, and will update this post with more information once it becomes available. 

Education
3:02 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

AISD Board Deliberates Bond Package Worth Almost $900 Million

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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Education
4:38 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

UT Warns Students About Emailed Loan Offers

Some emailed loan offers may not be quite as they appear.
courtesy Andrew Magill at flickr.com/amagill/

The University of Texas is warning students to be cautious of emails from private companies that advertise student loans from for-profit lenders.

Those emails may use misleading wording in the subject line that could suggest that they were sent by the university. But the Office of Student Financial Services at UT does not promote or endorse any private lenders, according to spokeswoman Jamie Brown.

She says that even with reputable companies, students should shop carefully.

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Education
12:57 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

In Report, University History Departments Face Scrutiny

University of Texas at Austin students pass by the Main Building on their way to and from classes.
Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, three conservative groups — the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the National Association of Scholars and the Texas Association of Scholars — will release a sure-to-be controversial report alleging that the University of Texas and Texas A&M University offer students "a less-than-comprehensive picture of history.”

The report’s rollout is part of a three-day policy orientation by the TPPF, an Austin-based think tank that has been tied to some of the state's most hotly-debated proposed higher education reforms. It signals a renewed push to reconsider the course offerings in the history departments of the state’s public universities, and particularly to boost the number of courses dedicated to the study Western Civilization.

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