Education

Education
11:25 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Teich Unseats Incumbent Brister in AISD District 3

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Retired teacher Ann Teich defeated incumbent trustee Christine Brister in Austin ISD District 3 in North Central Austin. The win was not a surprise, as Brister had suspended her campaign weeks ago, citing non-life threatening health issues.

With almost 10,000 votes counted, Teich led Brister 65 percent to 35 percent.

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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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Texas A&M
5:02 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Texas A&M Police Searching for Armed Suspect

http://emergency.tamu.edu

Update 5:36pm: Texas A&M officials say they still have not located an armed suspect, but students can go about their normal activities, but "remain cautious" while the investigation continues.

Earlier Update: The latest from A&M: "UPD is asking that everyone in the vicinity of the incident remain indoors until the all clear issued via Code Maroon. UPD continues to search the area for the suspect."

Original Post (4:57 p.m.): Texas A&M has issued a “Code Maroon” warning of an armed suspect on campus.

At 4:43 p.m. CST,  A&M’s public safety account tweeted “Code Maroon Armed subject described as white male, late 40's, light hair, lime green short sleeve shirt, jeans.”

Additional information posed on the A&M emergency website reads “Looks like a wooden handled hand gun. Last seen heading in the direction of Sanders Corps Center.”

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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Education
10:44 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Study: New Discipline Methods Could Benefit Schools

National Honor Students Zach Calkins and Aaron Gonzales, seniors at Brandeis High School, read to kindergarten students in a crowded classroom at Wanke Elementary School in San Antonio, Friday, March 9, 2012.
Jennifer Whitley via Texas Tribune

Ahead of a joint meeting Tuesday of the Senate education and criminal justice committees that will address school discipline, a new study suggests that adjusting disciplinary policy could improve results at Texas public schools while saving money at the same time.

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Texas A&M
4:40 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Texas A&M Aims to Measure Student Success and Cost Effiency

Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), Chairman of Senate Higher Education Committee
Brandon Mulder

Today Texas A&M officials announced EmpowerU, a program aimed at monitoring the system’s efficiency at graduating its students.

Essentially, EmpowerU is A&M’s new public analytical website. It aggregates statistics of all student progress, and presents its data online. The idea is that individual institutions will set their own goals for improvement. EmpowerU’s website will publicly hold them accountable to quality of education and cost efficiency, benchmarking peer institutions against each other.

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Education
1:34 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

AISD Debt-To-Student Ratio Among Lowest in Central Texas

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

As the Austin Independent School District gets ready to ask voters to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing next May, figures published by the Texas Comptroller today show the district has one of the the lowest per-student debt rates among Austin-area school districts.

That said, AISD also has the most debt of any district in the area, at $809,435,850. But calculated on a per-student basis, AISD’s outstanding debt it is $9,492. The Austin school district also has the lowest debt per capita of $1,272.

A lot depends on how you define “Central Texas.” Lockhart ISD, for example, has a lower debt-to-student ratio of just $5,565.75. You will find lower debt ratios in some of the outlying, more rural districts in the region, like Granger ISD, Florence ISD, and Prarie Lea ISD, which has no debt at all. (It also has a student population of 232.)

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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
9:06 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

AISD Board Extends Carstarphen's Contract to 2015

Jeff Heimsath, KUT News

The Austin school board voted 7-2 to extend an employment contract with Dr. Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent who oversees the education of more than 86,000 Austin children in the largest school district in Central Texas. If Carstarphen fulfills her contract to June 2015, she will have served seven years at the helm of AISD, a term twice as long as the average tenure of an urban superintendent. Carstarphen earns $283,412 per year. 

In a sweeping assessment of Carstarphen's performance, school board president Mark Williams said she has "shown courage" and the board "continues to believe that she is the right person to lead Austin ISD." Williams' annual evaluation was overwhelmingly positive, although it did highlight several areas of weakness. Those included a need for AISD to "improve its community engagement efforts." 

Williams' evaluation also drew attention to "a significant achievement gap" among white students and their Hispanic and African-American counterparts. For example, Texas Education Agency data shows almost 90 percent of white high school seniors graduated in the 2010-11 school year, compared to 72 percent of African American students, a disparity even larger than the statewide gap of 5.5 percent.

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Education
9:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Texas Schools Head to Court in Finance Lawsuit

A funding lawsuit joined by over 600 school districts heads to court today.
flickr.com/therefore

Opening arguments begin today in a school finance lawsuit pitting about 600 school districts, including the Austin Independent School District, against the State of Texas. The legal battle could reshape how money is distributed to classrooms.

The way schools are currently funded in Texas is an intensely complicated set of mathematical formulas that even experts sometimes struggle with. Without wading too deeply into the Texas Education Code, here’s what you need to know about the school finance lawsuit getting started today:

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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
4:40 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Bridging Cultures, Building Revenue: Saudi Arabian Students May Get Texas College Experience

Thousands of Saudi Arabian students may enroll in community colleges across Texas in the next few semesters.
http://www.flickr.com/markyharky

The UT College of Liberal Arts is co-hosting an open house today that may place thousands of Saudi Arabian students in Texas community colleges.

The open house is organized by The Global Initiative for Education and Leadership and hosted by the Saudi Arabia Cultural Missions (SACM), The US-Alhabra Chamber of Commerce and the College of Liberal Arts.

At the event SACM officials will present their intention to place 8,000 Saudi Arabian students in two-year community colleges. The students are fully funded and sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government, which will includes their tuition, books, medical and housing needs as well as $2,000 to $4,000 a month stipends. 

UT says its main goal is to foster relationships and knowledge between our countries. "Education is one of the ways in which we can begin to build collective futures across these boundaries," says Richard Flores, senior associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts. "Where students begin to know each other, recognize the differences but begin to see the similarities, and begin to build those relationships."

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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
10:52 am
Wed October 10, 2012

How Advanced Placement Success Could Save Texas Students Millions

Many Texas students are saving money by taking college exams in high schools.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Education Commissioner Michael L. Williams and the Texas Education Agency announced this week  that the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams rose by four percent in the 2011-2012 school year.

The Advanced Placement Program allows high school students to take college-level courses and ultimately exams that they can earn college credit for. The tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 . A score of 3 or higher is considered satisfactory. Last year, 194,391 Texas students took 350,700 AP exams.

The College Board, which created and oversees the AP program, estimates that if all of the students who scored a 5 on the exams last year enrolled in one of the state’s two flagship universities and received course credit, they would collectively save between $36.2 million and $42.9 million in tuition costs.

This news comes at a time when climbing college tuition rates are a major talking point in Texas, and on the cusp of a legislative session that will likely address these issues. 

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Education
9:34 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Justices Return to Affirmative Action in Higher Ed

Students walk through the University of Texas, Austin, campus near the school's iconic tower on Sept. 27.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 5:48 am

The U.S. Supreme Court returns on Wednesday to the emotional issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court will once again hear oral arguments on the issue, this time in a case from the University of Texas.

Over the past 35 years, the court has twice ruled that race may be one of many factors in determining college admissions, as long as there are no racial quotas. Now, just nine years after its last decision, the justices seem poised to outright reverse or cut back on the previous rulings.

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Education
6:39 am
Wed October 10, 2012

UT, Affirmative Action, and the 'Achievement Gap'

The U.S. Supreme Court is looking at a case involving race as a factor in admissions at UT.
flickr.com/islespunkfan

Wednesday, Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Fisher v. The University of Texas. The case asks whether including race as a factor for admission is constitutional. Debate around the issue has been heated.

Minority groups held a conference at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday and said affirmative action is necessary to right historic wrongs. They argued that underprivileged minorities remain underprivileged if they can’t attend flagship universities. And they argued that diversity in the classroom will help students deal with diversity in the real world.

But Lino Graglia, a constitutional law professor at UT who specializes in race and education (and is no stranger to controversial remarks on the topic), says affirmative action won’t fix this. He says the real problem is that many minority students aren’t ready for college when they graduate high school.

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Education
3:19 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Student Could Face Jail Time For Hacking UT Registration Site

UT police say the student clogged the registrar website with information and requests, temporarily taking it offline.
Caleb Miller for KUT News

A University of Texas at Austin student is facing a felony charge for hacking UT’s computer system.

University police say 19-year-old Garret Phillips flooded the registration site with information in April, shutting it down temporarily when students were trying to sign up for summer and fall classes.

But UTPD Sgt. Charles Bonnet says no personal information was put at risk.

“The type of attack that was launched was just a flood of information into the site which caused it to crash. There was no effort to extract any kind of information or view any kind of information," Bonnet says.

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Education
1:30 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

AISD Considers Paying More For Coaches

School board members and Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will discuss AISD athletics at their meeting tonight.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin school district could start offering more perks to athletic coaches in hopes of attracting better talent. School board members will hear about a proposal tonight to pay coaches competitive stipends and offer flexible work schedules.

Austin ISD says student athletes do better in school than non-athletes. Their attendance rates are five percent higher. They score almost seven percent higher on math tests. And they are 16 percent more likely to graduate. The relationship between learning and sports is the subject of much scholarly analysis.

That’s part of the justification for increasing how much AISD dedicates to athletics. Currently, the district spends about $10.7 million a year, which amounts to 1.1 percent of AISD’s budget. Almost two out of five high school students play sports. In middle school, it’s closer to three out of five.

Providing stipends to coaches and giving them more flexible work schedules might help attract better talent and make students more likely to play sports, but the head of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association Rusty Dowling says that’s not the only thing coaches will consider.

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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
4:32 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Texas School Fund Grows By Nine Percent

The library at Allan Elementary School in Austin
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

A public fund that helps pay for textbooks and classroom materials grew by more than 9 percent last fiscal year to $25.5 billion. The Texas Permanent School Fund is the second largest educational endowment in the country, after Harvard University’s, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Will it mean more money for teaching materials in public schools? Technically, it should, but Christy Rome with the Texas Schools Coalition isn’t popping the champagne bottles just yet.

“We hope that it will mean more money for schools, but we won’t know that for certain until we see what that bottom line looks like during the legislative session in 2013,” she says.

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