Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

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.

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 as the ratings are released.

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.

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.

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.

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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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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Almost 60 percent of middle and high school students in Texas have been suspended or expelled.  That’s according to a new report out today by the Council of State Governments and researchers at Texas A&M University. 

The study looked at state data on almost 1 million Texas public school students over six years.

The report also found that:

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

A group that wants to create web applications and programs for more transparent government holds their first "meet up" tonight.

Austin is one of the top ten finalists for the next wave of Code for America, a nationwide push to help staffers within a city's government identify issues that can be answered through the use of computer technology.

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The Texas Education Agency announced another 178 employees will be laid off this week. This is in addition to the 91 employees that were laid off in February of this year.

In addition to the 269 terminated employees, 58 employees retired or resigned and 16 were transferred.

The layoffs mean TEA will see a 32% reduction in staff due to a $48 million--or 36%--budget cut from the state.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

For the first time ever, the University of Texas at Austin will have a staff ombudsperson – an independent third-party who can help resolve internal conflicts with staff members. Jennifer Graf Sims begins her new duties on July 20, according to a press release.

“As many of you know, the creation of this position has been several years in the making,” UT President Bill Powers said in a post on his blog.

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CORRECTION: In the original version of this story, we said that David Quinn was Dean of Business Studies at ACC. In fact, the Dean of Business Studies is Charles Quinn.

The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College bookended a list of top ten Certified Public Accountant exam success rates among Texas colleges and universities.

ACC was the only community college to make the list.

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If signed by the governor, new language in Senate Bill 6 would give school boards more control over instructional materials at the local level.  But school boards would not get extra powers over the content of those materials.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

As we reported earlier this week, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Meria Carsatrphen said she plans to bring big changes to Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools. Today, she made the official announcement and provided additional details about the restructuring. You can read the full details below.

As we reported on KUT this morning, the Austin Independent School District held a public forum at Reagan High School last night to discuss the $40 million district-wide performing arts center that is slated to be built in the Mueller development.

Our story focused on the concerns of some local residents with traffic and building design. But there was a lot more information about the performing arts center itself contained in the presentation. You can view it in the embed above, or better yet, check out the full screen version.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT

The Austin Independent School District is taking some dramatic steps in an attempt to improve educational outcomes at a couple of eastside middle schools: Pearce and Garcia.

Pearce Middle School has been a particularly challenging campus for Austin ISD. In five of the last six years, it was ranked "academically unacceptable" by the state.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Ever since fresh US Census data revealed large population disparities in Austin ISD's seven trustee districts, AISD has been working to redraw those political boundaries.  One challenge is balancing voter influence without violating the Voting Rights Act by diluting the influence of protected minority groups.

Those sometimes conflicting goals may be tested around the Mueller redevelopment project, a planned mixed-use community being constructed on the site of what used to be a municipal airport.

Photo by KUT

Eighty percent of Austin ISD students passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills this year, an important state standardized test used to rank school districts. It’s the first time AISD met that benchmark.

School board members will hear from staff on the preliminary TAKS results during tonight’s school board meeting. The school district provided a faxed copy of the PowerPoint presentation to KUT News.

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The 82nd Legislature delivered a fatal whack to state grants for full-day pre-kindergarten. But some public schools are refusing to let the budgetary machete finish off their early-childhood programs, choosing instead to charge tuition.

The state offers half-day pre-K for children who cannot speak English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families. That remains fully financed in the budget, according to the Texas Education Agency. 

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A powerful group of individuals — including former regents, former university system chancellors and former university presidents — from around Texas have joined together to address the state's ongoing higher education controversy.