Education

Education
2:43 pm
Fri September 16, 2011

Texas Approves Charter School For Deion Sanders

Photo by Michael J. Cargill

Former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders' charter school application was among eight approved by the Texas State Board of Education today.

The decision came after a brief discussion during which members raised questions about the schools' academic rigor and Sanders' involvement.

"I have no idea what the applicant plans to do in the classroom, how they plan to instruct the TEKS," said Michael Soto, D-San Antonio, adding, " I have no idea what they plan to offer in a day to day classroom experience."

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Education
12:45 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Texas SAT Scores Show Broad Declines

A sample copy of the SAT test
Photo by KUT

Average scores on the SAT tests by Texas high school students plummeted last school year in all three subject areas: reading, writing and math. The national numbers also declined to their lowest levels on record.

Here in Texas, the average math score for students, including all public and private schools, dropped two points to 502. Critical reading scores declined four points to 479. Writing scores were down seven points to 465.

National scores declined also, but were still higher than the Texas averages at 506, 494 and 483 for math, critical reading and writing, respectively. The maximum score on the SAT test is 800.

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Education
5:02 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

AISD Considers Process to Redraw School Boundaries

School trustee Lori Moya leans over to say something to school board president Mark Williams during a board meeting in June.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is about to begin a long and likely contentious process that could end in school attendance boundaries being redrawn.

Tonight, school board members will look at the district’s plan to develop a committee that would examine attendance zones. It’s all kind of dry at this point – but that could change if the district starts tinkering with which students go to what schools.

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Education
4:46 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

UT Systems Launches "Framework" Plan

The UT Board of Regents approved a $243.6 million framework plan that is supposed to change the way UT universities operate.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa introduced a nine-point plan to increase undergraduate access and graduation rates, emerging research opportunities, teaching awards for faculty and improving efficiency and transparency. The UT Board of Regents voted unanimously to implement Cigarroa’s framework and commit $243.6 million to it. You can watch his address here.

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Education
3:57 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

UT Professors Develop Online Game to Help Autistic Children

Two University of Texas professors are developing a free online game called LifeisGame which may help autistic children express their emotions.
Image courtesy Yan Zhang, UT School of Information

Two University of Texas professors are developing a game that could affect the lives of children diagnosed with autism.

Yan Zhang, an assistant professor at UT-Austin's School of Information and engineering professor J.K. Aggarwal are working to create a free online game called "LifeIsGame" designed  to help autistic children communicate.

Zhang said the game may address a component of autistic children's lives that often gets overlooked: their emotions.

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Education
2:15 pm
Wed August 24, 2011

Austin Non-Profit Girlstart Expands Nationally

Austin non-profit aimed at drawing girls into STEM education is getting ready to expand nationally.
Horia Varlan http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/

A local organization that wants to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is beginning to branch out across the United States. Girlstart began in Austin in 1997, and provides free after-school programs, summer camps, and Saturday classes for girls.

“STEM is a national priority. There aren’t enough graduates in America than can fill STEM jobs,” Girlstart executive director Tamara Hudgins told KUT News.

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Education
2:57 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Your Last Chance To Weigh In On AISD's 2011-12 Budget

People addressing the school board at tonight's budget hearing stand at this microphone and are given two minutes to speak.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin school board members are set to vote on an $838 million budget one week from today. But first, they want to hear from the public during a hearing tonight at AISD headquarters.

The state is cutting more than $35 million from Austin ISD’s budget. But one-time federal money through the so-called EduJobs program is adding $14 million to the district’s coffers.

Here are some of the items included in the budget:

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Education
11:26 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Texas Universities Prepping for New Meningitis Law

Jamie Schanbaum, a victim of bacterial meningitis, has had two vaccine-related bills named for her by the state legislature.
Photo by Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Among the things 22-year old Jamie Schanbaum has now that she could not have anticipated three years ago are 2 extra inches in height when she stands, a gold medal from the USA Cycling Paralympic Road National Championships and two bills passed by the Texas Legislature in her honor. These gains came after significant losses — most noticeably both legs below the knee and most of each finger, the result of a bout with meningococcal septicemia during her sophomore year at the University of Texas.

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Education
5:21 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Texas AG: No Permanent School Funds to Help Charter Schools

The fifteen-member State Board of Education is responsible for managing the $25 billion Permanent School Fund.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

The State Board of Education cannot use money from the $25 billion Permanent School Fund to help charter schools acquire buildings or other facilities, according to a legal opinion issued today by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. He said the only consideration for investment should be how much money the SBOE earns on it, and how safe that investment is.

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Education
2:02 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Texas “Very Unlikely” To Seek NCLB Waiver This Year

Texas Education Agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis Building in Austin.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Education Agency is waiting until the federal government rolls out more details in September before deciding whether to seek a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

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Education
4:03 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

AISD Misses AYP

Federal ratings, based in part by standardized test performance, for school districts and individual public schools were released today.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Education Agency released preliminary results for the federal ratings of school districts today. Austin Independent School district did not meet federal standards, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). It is a federal designation as part of the No Child Left Behind program.

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Education
4:32 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Don’t Expect AISD Tax Rate Election In November

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin ISD, the largest school district in Central Texas, probably won’t ask voters this fall to help cover a state funding shortfall that forced it to slash jobs and reduce programs.

“There’s just not enough time,” AISD school board president Mark Williams told KUT News, citing how long it took the state legislature to finalize its budget this year.  

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Education
4:56 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

Texas School Ratings Drop With Change in Formula

Education Commisioner Robert Scott gave Texas schools their ratings today.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The number of schools considered “academically unacceptable” by the state skyrocketed from 104 in 2010 to 569 this year. It was largely because the Texas Education Agency stopped using the Texas Projection Measure, a formula that gave credit to failing schools if they were mathematically predicted to pass in the future.

Commissioner Robert Scott says that’s still only 7 percent of all public schools in Texas.

“The system is designed to make campuses focus on their weaknesses and cause improvement,” Scott said. “One year academically unacceptable, most of those campuses will come off that list in a year.”

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Education
1:35 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

ACC Can Move Forward With Construction After Lawsuit's Dismissal

A federal appellate court dismissed the lawsuit brought against Austin Community College's proposed Hays County campus. The new campus was approved by voters in 2009. It would have been partially funded by a property tax increase and federal stimulus money.

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Education
10:03 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Texas School Accountability Ratings Due Today

Austin schools' ratings will be announced this afternoon.
Photo for KUT News

The Texas Education Commissioner will release this year's school ratings at 1 p.m. Austin ISD will hold a news conference to talk about its results at 2 p.m.

The annual accountability ratings helps parents compare their children's schools to others in the district or state. Consistently low performing schools risk being shut down.

The ratings are compiled through a combination of standardized test scores, graduation rates and drop-out rates.  Schools are categorized as exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable and academically unacceptable.

Check back on kutnews.org as the ratings are released.

Education
10:35 am
Mon July 25, 2011

For Some, School Ratings Change Increases the Worry

Austin ISD headquarters on W. 6th Street.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

On Friday, the Texas Education Agency will publicly release its annual accountability ratings for the state’s 1,000-plus school districts. School officials always eye this day with nervous anticipation, but this year many are feeling more than a twinge of dread.

This will be the first year the official ratings — which categorize schools as “exemplary,” “recognized,” “acceptable” or “unacceptable” based on academic performance — will not contain the mechanism known as the Texas Projection Measure since it was implemented in 2009.

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Education
4:09 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

Online Science Materials Get SBOE Approval

State Board of Education members Pat Hardy, left, and George Clayton listen to testimony on supplemental science materials. The SBOE approved the materials for use this fall. Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

They did not have the money to adopt new textbooks. But the State Board of Education has approved supplementary online materials that will wind up in science classrooms this fall.

A socially conservative group of board members saw its power reduced, after the last election. So when the battle lines were drawn over how vigorously students should question theories supporting evolution, social conservatives did not push as hard as they might have two years ago when the standards were adopted.

“I don’t think there’s any question. Had some seats not changed, it would have been a different outcome,” Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican on the state board, told KUT.

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Education
1:41 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

How Much Leeway Will Districts Have on Science Materials?

The State Board of Education has embarked on a two-day process to adopt new science instructional materials for Kindergarten through 12th Grade.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

As the State Board of Education spends the next two days deciding which science materials to insert into Texas classrooms this fall, a new piece of legislation signed by Governor Perry on Tuesday gave school districts the power essentially to ignore that list.

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Education
12:13 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

SBOE Considers Science Classroom Materials

Parliamentarian Kirk Overbey and David Bradley of District 7 at Thursday morning's State Board of Education meeting.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

The State Board of Education has begun a two-day process to adopt new science materials for Texas public schools. 

A public hearing got underway this morning on a list of instructional materials recommended by Education Commissioner Robert Scott.   Liberals such as Kathy Miller with the Texas Freedom Network like the list.

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Education
12:24 pm
Tue July 19, 2011

North Texas School District to Charge Students For Riding Bus

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Parents in Keller, Texas, a relatively affluent suburb of Fort Worth, will have to start paying for their children to ride the school bus next year. Here’s how much it will cost:

  • One student is $185 per semester
  • Additional students are $135 each
  • Students eligible for free and reduced lunch are $100 each
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