Education

Education
12:40 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Most Eighth-Graders Fail to Get Degree 11 Years Later

According to state data, less than one-fifth of eighth grade students in 2001 earned a college degree.
Credit Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

 Among young Texans who started eighth grade in 2001, less than one-fifth went on to earn a higher education credential within six years of their high school graduation. And rates were even lower among African-American and Hispanic students and those who were economically disadvantaged, according to data analyzed by two state education agencies and presented Tuesday in a Texas Tribune news application.  

Since 2012, Houston Endowment, a philanthropic foundation and sponsor of the news app, has advocated for the use of “cohort tracking” to evaluate the state’s education pipeline. The analysis begins with all Texas students entering eighth grade in a given year and follows them for 11 years, giving them six years after high school to earn a post-secondary degree.  

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Education
8:33 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Austin ISD and Education Union at Odds Over Teacher Contracts

Education Austin and AISD are at an impasse over teacher contracts. A three-member committee of board members must now hear arguments and make a recommendation to the full board for a final decision.
Photo by KUT News

Update: Education Austin, the teachers union that represents around 1,800 Austin teachers, and the Austin Independent School District are at an impasse over teacher contracts. The two groups are at odds over contract length: the union wants the district to reinstate three-year contracts, while AISD wants to continue offering one-year contracts.

In a state without collective bargaining laws, it’s rare for a school district to have such a clear-cut process when it and another party can’t agree. 

 

“It’s been very clearly defined that if parties can’t reach agreement, the board of trustees then will ultimately engage in a solution process," Michael Houser, AISD's chief human capital officer, told the school board last night. The last time the district came to an impasse with Education Austin was in 2008. 

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UT System
1:12 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa Steps Down

UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced Monday he is resigning to head pediatric transplant surgery at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

After five years, Francisco Cigarroa announced Monday morning that he is stepping down as University of Texas System Chancellor. 

Cigarroa says he's leaving to head the pediatric transplant surgery department at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

"It really ended up being a very personal decision as to what is my next role in life?" Cigarroa said at a press conference Monday morning. "What’s the next mountain I want to climb?"

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School Finance
6:30 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Lawyers Give Closing Arguments in Texas School Finance Trial

Judge John Dietz heard closing arguments Friday in the Texas school finance trial. He says he expects to make a final ruling in the spring.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

There finally seems to be an end in sight in the Texas school finance trial as lawyers gave closing arguments Friday afternoon.

The trial initially examined if Texas constitutionally funds public education. In 2012, District Judge John Dietz preliminarily ruled the system was unconstitutional, but he reopened the trial to see if the actions of the 2013 legislature could change his final ruling.

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Education
5:32 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Round Rock ISD Apologizes, Backs Out of Cell Tower at Elementary School

Construction of the cell phone tower at Pond Springs Elementary School in Round Rock. School officals say they're going to try to get out of the contract to build a cell phone tower on campus after parents complained.
Dana Vasagam

The Round Rock Independent School District is backing away from an agreement with cell phone provider AT&T after parents and community members raised concerns about the construction of a cell phone tower on an elementary school campus.

According to a letter sent to parents, the district agreed to lease land to AT&T to build the tower at Pond Springs Elementary School, but some parents say Monday's letter was the first time they had heard of the agreement.

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AISD
9:27 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Nonprofit Says Austin Schools Don't Address Inequality Among Students

The Texas Civil Rights Project wants AISD to start an independent Equity Foundation to help direct private money to schools in low income neighborhoods
KUT News

A nonprofit legal foundation says the Austin Independent School District isn’t addressing education inequalities between high and low-income students. 

The Texas Civil Rights Project released an updated report Tuesday on equal opportunity in the district. It's urging the district to start an independent equity foundation, which would direct private money to schools in low-income neighborhoods and create a level playing field between students regardless of their parents' income. The foundation would promote equal access to things like books and quality teachers and how schools spend their money.

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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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