Education

AISD
5:56 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Austin ISD Names New Athletic Director

Leal Anderson, AISD's new athletic director, comes to the district from Anderson High School.
hometeamsonline.com

The Austin Independent School District has a new athletic director. Leal Anderson will oversee AISD sports programs that involve more than 14,000 students. Anderson says part of his mission is improving the academic success of students through the character development that happens in athletics.

"I think graduation will increase," Anderson said at a media availability Tuesday." I think the numbers of enrollment will also increase. We'll also have less students dropping out. Those are things that I think are really important, that will help. And that's what I look forward to doing."

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Education
4:43 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Obama Secures Funding To Help Connect Students To Internet

President Obama records students on a classroom iPad while visiting a seventh grade classroom before speaking about goals of connecting students to next generation broadband and wireless technology within five years on Tuesday, at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 4:30 pm

President Obama on Tuesday announced that technology companies had pledged $750 million in equipment and services that would help connect students to the Internet.

USA Today reports:

"Money from Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other companies, combined with $2 billion from the Federal Communications Commission, will help connect up to 15,000 schools and 20 million students.

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Education
11:05 am
Tue February 4, 2014

In Texas, Fewer Tests Mean Less Time for Teaching Social Studies

State Board of Education member Pat Hardy, photographed in 2011. She says social studies courses are treated like a "redheaded stepchild" by Texas education officials.
Credit Daniel Reese for KUT News

  The reduction in social studies gradation requirements has disappointed many social studies advocates in the state, but it hasn't surprised them. They say the subject often gets pushed aside when it comes to classroom instruction time, especially with an increased emphasis in high-stakes testing.

Unlike math, science and reading, students aren't tested in social studies until eighth grade. Education advocates say lack of social studies standardized tests means less instructional time for the subject.

“It hasn’t been tested," says Pat Hardy, State Board of Education member. "It’s been treated like the redheaded stepchild, and at the end of the day – literally at the end of the day – they’ll say, 'well, you can teach social studies.' Well, how good do you think that is?”

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Education
9:39 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

Texas Overhauls Textbook Approval To Ease Tensions Over Evolution

Kansas Board of Education members look over language for a science textbook in 2007. The fight over the teaching of evolution has been particularly fierce in Texas, which because of its size influences many textbook publishers.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 11:01 am

The Texas Board of Education, which has long been an ideological battleground for the teaching of evolution, says it will limit the use of citizen review panels and instead give priority to teachers in determining science and history curricula.

Because Texas public schools represent such a large market for textbook publishers, the state has an outsized influence on what is taught in the rest of the country.

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State Board of Education
12:19 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Texas Education Board Approves New High School Grad Requirements

The State Board of Education approved new graduation requirements that don't require all students to talk Algebra II
John Walker, Flickr

The State Board of Education officially adopted new state high school graduation requirements this morning. The vote was 14 to one in support of the changes. El Paso Democrat Martha Dominguez voted against it.

Last year, lawmakers got rid of the previous graduation plan which required students to take four math, science, English and social studies courses.

Under the new plan, all students are required to take four years of  English and at least three years of math, science and social studies. Students will then have to choose one of five paths to graduation, known as endorsements. 

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UT Austin
12:01 am
Fri January 24, 2014

UT Austin Receives $60 Million Gift for Engineering, Business Schools

John Mulva and his wife, Miriam. The couple donated $60M to the University of Texas at Austin for its engineering and business buildings.

The University of Texas at Austin has received a $60 million gift from John and Miriam Mulva, one of the largest gifts in the school’s history. The donation will go toward two major building projects, including the school’s proposed Engineering Education and Research Center.

According to UT Austin President Bill Powers, $20 million will go toward the new Engineering Education and Research Center, while the other $40 million will go toward renovations of two buildings in the McCombs School of Business, pending project approval by the Board of Regents. The entire sum of money will be paid at a rate of three million over the next 20 years. 

UT President Powers says the gift is especially important for the Engineering Center, since it will help the university raise $105 million from private donors to pay for construction of the $310 million Engineering Center.

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Education
12:39 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Only 15 Percent Pass English I Writing in Latest STAAR Tests

A sample English I writing question, released from the 2011 STAAR test.
Texas Education Agency

The English I writing exam is giving Texas students trouble.

According to the Texas Education Agency, only 15 percent of students who took the writing exam in December – part of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test – passed. And most of those students were taking it for the second time.

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School Finance
4:48 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Texas Judge Reopens School Finance Trial (Update)

Judge John Dietz (right) speaking with lawyers on both sides of the school finance trial, which reopened Tuesday with opening arguments. The trial will see if actions during the 2013 legislature should change the judge's initial ruling.
Kate McGee, KUT News

Update: Travis County District Judge John Dietz heard opening arguments today in the second round of Texas' school finance trial. The two sides are arguing over whether actions taken by the legislature last year change the judge’s preliminary ruling that the state’s public education finance system is unconstitutional.

When the legislature reconvened last year, it added back $3.4 billion for public education after it cut $5.4 billion during the 2011 session. Lawmakers reduced the number of required standardized tests for graduation from 15 to five.

At issue: were those changes enough to create a fair and equitable system to finance public education and allow schools and students to meet the state standards?

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AISD
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Austin School District Brings Diversity to District Leadership

Meria Carstarphen, Pauline Dow and Nicole Conley, the three female members of the Superintendent's senior cabinet. Carstarphen and Conley are the first female CEO and CFO in AISD's history.
KUT News

When Meria Carstarphen became superintendent of the Austin Independent School District, she became the first female Superintendent in the district’s history.

During her tenure, there have been more women in the superintendent’s senior cabinet than ever before, including female Chief Financial Officer, Nicole Conley and Chief Academics Officer, Pauline Dow.  

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AISD
8:40 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Enrollment Dip Worries Some Teachers, Parents at East Austin Public Schools

Luke Muszkiewicz with his daughters, Margot (left) and Hannah. Muszkiewicz and his wife transferred his daughters to Metz Elementary, a school that has seen declining enrollment over the last decade.
Kate McGee, KUT News

Enrollment at many East Austin schools has been declining in recent years. This week, demographers predict those neighborhoods will continue to see a decline in children for the next five to ten years.

Some schools are projected to see enrollment drop to under 75 percent of capacity, including Metz elementary school in the Holly neighborhood just off East Cesar Chavez. Student enrollment there has declined by more than 100 students — or about 22 percent — in the past decade, which worries parents and teachers who are watching the neighborhood change around them. 

“Most of those families who can afford to live here in and around Metz, the demographers tell us are middle and high income families who tend to not have kids or don’t have kids young enough to attend elementary school," Metz Elementary parent Luke Muszkiewicz says.

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Education
3:15 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Seek UT Gives Students a Sneak Peek at Post-Grad Salaries

Seek UT uses in-state data to provide prospective students with a snapshot of their financial future after college
flickr.com/59937401@N07

For some, the combination of student debt and the post-grad blues is a crushing weight – one that comes swiftly, and without warning. But now, for prospective Texas college students, a forecast of post-grad life is a click away.

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Education
10:22 am
Tue January 14, 2014

As Austin Grows, Enrollment May Plateau in Some AISD Schools

AISD's Board of Trustees discussed the possibility of a stasis in the number of students attending Austin schools in the next 10 years.
Photo by KUT News

As more people are expected to continue to move to the Austin area, the Austin Independent School District predicts enrollment in city schools to stay relatively flat over the next ten years. At an AISD school board meeting last night, board members suggested by the year 2023, the Austin school district is predicted to have about 350 fewer students than it does right now.

In a district of 86,000 students, that doesn’t seem like much. But Beth Wilson with the district’s Planning Services department says it reflects a major trend in Austin.

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Education
8:45 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Should American Universities Boycott their Israeli Counterparts?

Hunter Rawlings says U.S. universities should not boycott Israeli universities in response to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because it would lead to a political "Pandora's Box."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has raised talk of his legacy, especially with respect to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Several groups of American scholars, including the American Studies Association, are calling for US universities to boycott their Israeli counterparts. The president of the University of Texas at Austin, William Powers, is hosting a conference of several key figures in higher education this week. One such figure, Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities, spoke with KUT's David Brown.

AISD
7:41 am
Mon January 13, 2014

What You Need to Know About the Austin Independent School District's Transfer Policy

Keeping schools diverse is one reason AISD approves in-district school transfers.
flickr.com/laffy4k

Austin parents have until the Jan. 31 to request to transfer their child to another school in the district next fall. Around ten percent of Austin ISD students transferred between schools in the 2012-2013 school year. In recent years, it’s become a contentious topic as the district must balance overcrowded and under-enrolled schools, while also providing academic options to students within the district.

There are essentially four ways for students to transfer to different schools in the district according to Vincent Torres, the Austin School Board President.

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Education
2:55 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Dewhurst Rolls Out Education Interim Charges

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a charter school rally.
Bob Daemmrich for Texas Tribune

Studying technology's impact on higher education and evaluating public school students' writing scores on state assessments are among the tasks Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gave lawmakers in education-related interim charges Thursday.

Dewhurst announced the charges, which are expected to increase in the coming weeks, at a benefit for the United Negro College Fund in Dallas.

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Education
9:02 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Manor School Focuses on Relationships to Boost Attendance

Manor ISD boasts some of the best attendance in the country, placing nationally in the Get Schooled initiative in Fall 2013.
Courtesy of Manor ISD

A high school in the Manor Independent School District is being honored for winning a nationwide attendance challenge in the fall through the Get Schooled program and the E3 Alliance.  The school district has been putting more attention on improving student attendance rates, but it's especially excited about this particular school’s success in that area.

Manor Excel Academy is a small school with two buildings and about 124 students. Some are as old as 21. It’s what’s called an accelerated diploma high school that helps at-risk students. Students may be behind in credits or failing standardized tests when they enter the school. They could qualify for free or reduced lunch and, at the same time, be raising children or working to make ends meet. 

“It's a school of opportunity," says Kevin Brackmeyer, Manor ISD superintendent."The school allows students to have a second chance."

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Education
5:01 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Feds Say Minority Students Face Higher Rates of Punishment

Credit flickr.com/therefore

The federal government and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released guidelines encouraging school to use fairness and equity in their discipline policies and warning of potential punishment, if they don't.

The U.S. Department of Education says African-American students make up 15 percent of the nation’s population but account for more than one-third of those who have been suspended from school at least once.

Education advocate Deborah Fowler, with Texas Appleseed, says minority students, especially African-American students, are more likely to experience discipline more frequently, both from administrators and from school resource officers.

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Education
9:34 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Leander ISD Using 'Sensory Gardens' to Teach Disabled Students

Leander ISD students with special needs can learn to grow herbs, fruits, flowers and vegetables in sensory gardens.
flickr.com/dklimke

Some elementary schools in the Leander School District are using gardens to teach life skills to students with disabilities by using their five senses.

For students with some physical or developmental disabilities, even the simplest tasks can be difficult. That makes it hard to learn reading and writing—as well as life skills, like knowing their address or phone number, how to interact with other people and personal responsibility.

In the garden, students can use their senses to learn about plant life and where food comes from, as well as help students with physical development and coordination. The students can touch the dirt and the leaves, smell the herbs, water the plants and watch them grow.

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Education
10:02 am
Fri January 3, 2014

How Two Austin Principals Are Improving Test Scores at Low Income Schools

Shannan Muskopf/Texas Tribune

On the outside, Blackshear Elementary and Graham Elementary schools in Austin don’t have a lot in common. Blackshear has around 230 students, while Graham has nearly four times than that.  In East Austin, Blackshear’s building was built more than a hundred years ago. Graham Elementary—in the North Central part of the city—has a more 1970's architectural look.

But inside, the two schools -- with more than 90 percent economically disadvantaged students -- are run almost identically using a new philosophy called the New Three R's.

Since the late 1700’s, the Three R’s of learning have commonly been known as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Graham Elementary Principal Blaine Helwig says the "New Three R’s” stand for the "Right people," the "Right systems" and the "Right resources."

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Education
7:21 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Blackshear Elementary Students in Austin Relax with Yoga Class

flickr.com/Heidelknips

Students at Blackshear Elementary School in East Austin are learning more than just math and reading.

Some are also learning deep breathing, stretches and relaxation techniques in an afternoon yoga class. It's part of the school’s enrichment program, which offers classes in everything from gardening and cooking to song writing and penmanship.

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