TEA

Education
9:58 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Texas Seeks Federal Grant for Pre-K Expansion

The TEA is seeking a four-year $30 million annual grant from the federal government to make pre-k classes readily available for moderate and low-income families.
Robert W. Hart

The Texas Education Agency has asked the federal government for grants to­ fund an expansion of pre-k programs statewide for moderate and low-income families.

Texas will compete with 35 other states, and Washington, D.C., and is eligible to receive up to $30 million annually over a four-year grant window. The grant expansion is offering a total of $160 million nationwide. The new federal grant would help states that currently serve more than 10 percent of four years olds to build and expand on those programs, which have faced drastic cuts over the years.

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Austin ISD
10:50 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Here's Why Austin ISD Won't Keep All the Tax Money It Collects

Under the current school finance system, property wealthy school districts must return some of their local property taxes to the state under what's called recapture. Next week, a judge is expected to rule whether the system is constitutional.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

Within the next couple weeks, an Austin judge is expected to rule whether the state’s school finance system is constitutional. Meanwhile, Austin Independent School District officials are worried about how much money the district will have to educate students next year—and five years down the road. 

The reasons for that go back to something called “recapture," a process that means some school districts don’t get to keep all the money they collect. And it's extremely complicated.

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AISD
12:09 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Nine Austin ISD Schools Fail State Standards

A sample question on a STAAR test.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

90 percent of school districts in Texas met state standards, according to results released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.

Under a new rating system that began last year, schools are rated as Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required.

“Texans should be pleased to see the vast majority of districts, charters, and campuses are meeting the standards set in the second year of the state accountability system,” Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement. “While the 2014 numbers are positive, the work continues in districts across our state to meet and exceed increasing state standards and the expectations of their local communities.”

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Education
3:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Texas Wants to Push New Teacher Evaluation Rolllout Back Another Year

Commissioner Michael Williams on a tour of Eastside Memorial High School in 2013. He sent a letter to federal education leaders Wednesday asking for another year to monitor a new teacher evaluation system and a No Child Left Behind waiver.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams wants an additional year to study a new state teacher evaluation system. The additional period would delay the official roll out for two years.

Commissioner Williams wrote a letter to federal education officials Wednesday, where he also requested the federal government extend a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

In a statement, Williams said:

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Education
5:56 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Can You Opt Your Child Out of Texas Standardized Tests?

STAAR testing begins Monday, but some parents in Texas are choosing to keep their kids home as part of the growing Opt Out movement.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Standardized testing in Texas begins today and some parents across the state are choosing to opt their children out of the testing process.

Last week, a Waco family made news when they publicly told their school district they did not want their fourth grader taking the state tests because they were morally opposed to testing. 

Under state law, that's illegal. 

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State Board of Education
6:09 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

State Board of Education Removes Speech Requirement From High School Graduation Standards

The SBOE preliminarily voted Thursday to remove speech as a graduation requirement for high school students in Texas. They vote on a first reading Friday with a final adoption in January.
flickr.com/nirak

The State Board of Education preliminarily voted Thursday to remove speech as one of the required courses for high school graduation in Texas.

The board opted to give local school districts final say on whether or not high school students should be required to take speech. Board Member Tom Maynard says speech is a valuable class, but local school districts should decide whether or not it’s required.

“When in doubt, leave it to the locals to decide that. I suspect either most districts will hold on to that or embed that content in other coursework," Maynard said during Thursday's meeting.

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AISD
11:59 am
Tue October 29, 2013

New Accountability Standards Add Uncertainty to Failing Austin Schools

Pearce Middle School is requires improvement under interim TEA standards. It will become an all-boys school in 2014.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin School Board approved a set of plans Monday night for 11 schools that need improvement under the Texas Education Agency’s new accountability standards.

But as it rolls out year-long plans requiring monthly TEA visits and evaluations, it awaits new changes to the standards for this academic year.

“It’s going to keep us very focused," says Paul Cruz, AISD Chief Schools Officer. "We don’t know what the performance standards are going to be, but that’s also for every school in state of Texas."

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State Board of Education
11:23 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Textbook Standards, Charter Schools, Graduation Requirements Keep Education Board Busy

About 200 people gathered outside the Texas Education Agency building Tuesday to protest proposed changes to high school biology textbooks. Protestors were concerned ideological and religious beliefs will be considered alongside scientific theories.
Kate McGee, KUT News

This week was a busy one for Texas education. Here's what we picked up.

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The Lead
9:21 am
Wed March 13, 2013

The Lead: AMD Sale-Lease Deal, Pot Bill Pending, STAAR Test

State lawmakers debated rolling back the STAAR testing requirements for high school graduation.
Jason Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Good morning! Highs in the mid-70’s today bring perfect weather for South By Southwest music fans.

Lead Story: Advanced Micro Devices says it is selling its southwest Austin campus and leasing it back. AMD says it won’t affect operations, but it will free up about $164 million in cash.

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Politics
4:23 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Education Chief: Leave Gun Decisions to Districts

Education Commissioner Michael Williams wants school districts to have some say over who carries guns on campuses.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

As Texas lawmakers have discussed adding more armed guards to campuses or training staff members to carry weapons, Education Commissioner Michael Williams told the Texas Tribune that it’s a good discussion for lawmakers to have, but he would like to see some local discretion.

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Education
4:12 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Perry: Let School Districts Decide on 15 Percent Rule

Shannan Muskopf/Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry is expressing his support for letting school districts themselves choose whether to implement a rule that requires new state assessments to count for 15 percent of high school students' final grades.

In a written statement Thursday — the first time the governor has publicly weighed in on the issue —  Perry praised legislation filed by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, that would leave the decision up to local school districts. He also asked Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams to defer the state's rollout of the rule until the next school year.

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Education
10:52 am
Wed October 10, 2012

How Advanced Placement Success Could Save Texas Students Millions

Many Texas students are saving money by taking college exams in high schools.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Education Commissioner Michael L. Williams and the Texas Education Agency announced this week  that the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams rose by four percent in the 2011-2012 school year.

The Advanced Placement Program allows high school students to take college-level courses and ultimately exams that they can earn college credit for. The tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 . A score of 3 or higher is considered satisfactory. Last year, 194,391 Texas students took 350,700 AP exams.

The College Board, which created and oversees the AP program, estimates that if all of the students who scored a 5 on the exams last year enrolled in one of the state’s two flagship universities and received course credit, they would collectively save between $36.2 million and $42.9 million in tuition costs.

This news comes at a time when climbing college tuition rates are a major talking point in Texas, and on the cusp of a legislative session that will likely address these issues. 

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Education
11:56 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Should Texas Embrace Virtual Schools?

Lawmakers heard this morning about virtual schooling in Texas.
flickr.com/sammers05

The Texas Senate Education Committee is holding a hearing to address virtual education and its growing use in Texas. Committee members will hear testimony on virtual education and recommendations to improve programs that are underperforming. 

Texas offers both supplemental and full-time virtual education. Students in supplemental programs take online courses in addition to attending traditional face-to-face classes. Those enrolled in virtual schools full-time get all of their instruction online and don’t receive any classroom instruction.

The number of students enrolled in virtual schools in Texas is growing rapidly. Raise Your Hand Texas, an education policy non-profit, reports that enrollment in virtual education programs grew 97 percent in the past six years. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 17,000 Texas students were enrolled in supplemental online courses.  Last school year, 6,000 students were enrolled in full-time virtual programs. 

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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
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
4:56 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
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
11:12 am
Wed July 13, 2011

TEA Announces 178 Additional Layoffs

The Texas Education Agency is laying off more staff to keep up with state budget cuts, reducing some of the agency support available to teachers and school districts.
Photo by KUT News

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.

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News Brief
6:51 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Top Morning Stories July 13, 2011

Austin Police Monitor Margo Frasier, who started on the job in January, has released a report reviewing APD.
Photo courtesy of CityofAustin.org.

Police Monitor's Report Gives APD a Mixed Review

Austin’s police monitor has released an annual report for 2010. The report says complaints filed against APD officers are down. 753 complaints were filed last year compared to 913 in 2009. 

The report says data on traffic stops show police don’t pull people over based on race and ethnicity, but what happens after the stop is different.  African-Americans are almost three times as likely as whites to be searched, while Hispanics are over twice as likely as whites to be searched. Despite the disparity, APD did not find minorities had contraband at a rate significantly higher than whites.

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Education
5:03 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

TEA Releases Statewide TAKS Results

Texas Education Agency headquarters on Congress Ave. near 17th St.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It’s the last full year that the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills will be administered to students in this state before a new standardized test takes it place, and the Texas Education Agency is heralding the exam as a resounding success.

TEA released statewide results today, and said passing rates on every test in every grade level improved dramatically since the exam was first given in 2003.

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