Education

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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Education
10:33 am
Mon September 10, 2012

UT-Austin Announces New Engineering Research Center

KUT News

It has been more than two decades since a Texas university was selected to lead one of the National Science Foundation's prestigious engineering research centers, but the University of Texas at Austin has broken the streak.

UT-Austin has been selected to receive an $18.5 million federal grant over five years to establish and lead a center they are calling the Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies, or NASCENT. It will focus on developing manufacturing processes for microscopic computing technology that the center's leaders, Roger Bonnecaze and S.C. Sreenivasan, said could lead to foldable laptops and wearable devices.

The NSF's engineering research centers are strategically placed partnerships between the government, academia and industry. Led by UT-Austin, the partners that make up NASCENT include the University of New Mexico and the University of California at Berkeley as well as private companies like Texas Instrumnets, Lockeed Martin and others.

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Education
1:13 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Texas to Request No Child Left Behind Waivers

Pres. George W. Bush signing the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001.
White House

Texas is asking the federal government to waive requirements associated with No Child Left Behind, the signature package of education reforms championed by former President (and former Texas Governor) George W. Bush. The announcement comes after more than half of Texas schools failed to meet the annually escalating standards last school year. 

In a message on the Texas Education Agency website, the new Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announces plans to submit requests to the U.S. Department of Education waiving provisions in 2001’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, as well as parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"The state recognizes that the lack of NCLB’s reauthorization in a timely manner has created an obsolete system that does not adequately reflect the accomplishments of the state’s schools," the statement reads. "This, combined with [Local Educational Agencies] being required to meet and function within two different assessment and accountability systems, takes valuable resources and time away from the intent and focus of improving student achievement and school accountability.”

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Higher Education
8:28 am
Thu August 30, 2012

UT Drops Investigation of Controversial Gay Parenting Study

UT associate professor Mark Regnerus' work on gay parenting will not be subject to an academic investigation.
University of Texas

The University of Texas announced yesterday that it will not launch a formal investigation into a controversial study on gay parenting.

The study, written by associate professor Mark Regnerus and published in the journal Social Science Research, questioned the parenting abilities of gay couples. An internal audit by Social Science Research found the study was “severely flawed.” Others seized upon the fact that the research was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, two socially conservative groups.

But UT-Austin says a four-member advisory panel composed of senior faculty members concluded there is not enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

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Education
1:58 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Gov. Perry Names Michael Williams TEA Commissioner

Michael Williams' campaign website http://www.williamsfortexas.com/

A former chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, Michael Williams, will be the new Texas Commissioner of Education, Governor Rick Perry announced today. Williams will assume the post September 1. He will become the first African-American to lead the Texas Education Agency. 

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Education
1:41 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

UT Faculty & Staff to Get Merit-Based Pay Increases

UT-Austin faculty and staff will soon see merit-based pay increases.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

One of Austin’s biggest employers is getting ready to hand out raises.

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers says merit-based pay increases for faculty and staff will go into effect Sept. 1.

The salary increases will vary by department and Powers says they aren’t huge – but will help the university hang on to talented faculty and staff.

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Education
12:42 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Analyst: School Choice Grant Program Could Save Texas Billions

Lawmakers want to know if giving families educational options will make all schools better.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Texas Senate Committee on Education today talked about possible funding options to promote school choice.

Lawmakers want to know if having more school options will create competition and, in turn, make all schools in the state better. One option to encourage school choice is a so-called taxpayer savings grant program. The idea was proposed in the Texas Legislature last year as part of House Bill 33. It would pay up to 60 percent of the amount that the state spends per pupil each year on school maintenance and operations for private school tuition – that’d be about $5,200.

Joe Bast is the President and CEO of the Heartland Institute – a non-profit research center based in Chicago. He looked at the numbers and believes many Texas families would take advantage of the option and that it would save taxpayers a big chuck of money right away.

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Education
1:12 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

AISD to Focus on Increasing Minority Graduation Rates

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says the district has a lot to cheer about but there's still a lot of work to do.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen opened an all-staff convocation today by highlighting achievements in the district. But she also made clear there’s room for improvement.

Carstarphen told teachers they will have to handle non-violent disciplinary cases with in-school suspensions. It’s part of a policy the district is pursuing to increase graduation rates among minorities, who are disproportionately placed in the districts disciplinary schools.

“Nearly a third of African American and Hispanic males did not graduate on time. Hispanic females have dropout rates that are five times higher than Caucasian females in the district,” Carstarphen says.

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Education
5:42 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

For First Time, Latinos Represent Largest Minority Group In Colleges

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 5:26 pm

In a new study, The Pew Hispanic Center says that for the first time ever, Hispanics have become the largest minority group in the country's college campuses.

It's a report that marks many firsts for the ethnic group, which has been making great strides in education since 1972.

Among them: For the first time, there were more than 2 million latinos ages 18 to 24 enrolled. They reached a record 16.5 percent of all college enrollment. Hispanics make up a little more than a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in two-year colleges.

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Education
1:32 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Commission Says Penn State's Accreditation is 'In Jeopardy'

Penn State during the football team's media day in State College, Pa., on Thursday.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 11:50 am

The commission in charge of accrediting universities in the Mid-Atlantic region has warned Penn State that if it doesn't make changes in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, it could lose its accreditation.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education put the university "on warning," the AP reports, saying that it wants a report on how the university is complying with integrity standards.

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Education
12:05 am
Tue August 14, 2012

AISD Board Asks if Single-Sex Schools Are the Answer

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen talks to school board members during Monday night's work session.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin school district is racking its brain trying to come up with a way to help turn around two middle schools repeatedly ranked “academically unacceptable” by the state. The latest plan for Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools involves converting them to single-sex campuses, but that proposal has not received resounding support from the public. That uncertainty surfaced last night among members of the Austin school board.

Pearce and Garcia Middle schools are each about two-thirds Hispanic and one-third African-American, give or take. Both student populations are almost all economically disadvantaged, as measured by the number of students on the National School Lunch Program.

Year after year, both schools have wound up on the state's list of academically unacceptable campuses. And year after year, school board trustees proclaim the need to do something about it.

“Sitting on this side of the fence, it just seems that we've got to do something different for that community, and if we don't, failing those students is not an option,” Trustee Lori Moya said during a work session Monday night.

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Education
4:57 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Austin School Board to Debate Single-Sex Schools Tonight

Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools would be become single-sex campuses under an AISD proposal to be discussed by the board tonight.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

An Austin ISD proposal to convert two northeast campuses into a pair of single-sex middle schools will go before the school board tonight.

They won’t take action on the plan for Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools, but board members will have a chance to discuss what has become a controversial recommendation.

Members of the public had a lot of questions for the district during a series of open forums on the proposal. This particular meeting at LBJ High School got heated and some parents said they left feeling that their questions about the benefits of single-sex education weren’t answered. Even Cheryl Bradley – the school board member who represents the district and has been a strong proponent of single-sex schools – told KXAN afterwards that it was time to “stop and rethink” the idea.

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Education
5:28 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Most Central Texas School Districts Fail Federal Standards

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

A majority of Central Texas school districts did not meet federal standards this year under the No Child Left Behind law. It’s largely the outcome of tougher passing standards. But the results have some education officials questioning the validity of the testing system.

Some of the Central Texas school districts that failed to meet NCLB’s Adequate Yearly Progress standards included Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Manor, Georgetown, Dripping SpringsHays and San Marcos. In Central Texas, the few school districts that did meet AYP were located in higher income areas such the Eanes, Lago Visa and Lake Travis. But even in Lake Travis, the high school failed to meet AYP.  

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Education
7:34 am
Tue August 7, 2012

UT Defends Use of Race as a Factor in Admissions

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether UT's use of race as a factor in admissions is constitutional.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court defending its use of race as a factor in admissions.

An applicant to UT filed the suit because she says she was denied admission in 2008 because she’s white.

The university says race is just one of many factors considered in admissions and that its use is necessary and constitutional.

UT-Austin President Bill Powers released a short video discussing the case. In it, he says officials are “confident the university will prevail.”

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