Claycomb Associates, Architects

After hearing an analysis of student performance across the district, Superintendent Tom Crowe said the board needs to study the data, reconvene with the Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees and tell them what they found. Jennifer Hurd, an independent consultant based in Midland, conducted the study that analyzed student performance over time, by student groups and individual schools. Hurd said ECISD is facing a significant challenge in terms of academic performance because it is below state average in most tested areas.  view article arw

Houston ISD board members Thursday for the third time unanimously approved Kashmere High School's state-mandated turnaround plans, a proposal that must be approved to avoid state intervention. The turnaround plan, required after Kashmere High School received an eighth straight "improvement required" rating for low academic performance, now includes additional detail requested by the Texas Education Agency. If state education officials don't accept the district's plan for Kashmere High School, the state education commissioner must close the campus, order new management of the school or take over the district's board of trustees. view article arw

Schools on Midland’s west and north sides appeared to be impacted the most by recent changes in class-size waivers. According to numbers provided by the district, a pair of elementary schools on the city’s west side – Yarbrough and Scharbauer – saw their combined total of class-size waivers move from 20 to five. At the same time, a trio of elementary schools in north Midland – Greathouse, Fasken and Santa Rita – showed a combined increase of 13 from eight to 22. Santa Rita alone went from not needing a class-size waiver to needing eight. State law mandates a 22-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio in kindergarten through fourth grade. On Tuesday, trustees voted to increase the number of waivers needed to 101. view article arw

Texas could lose "essentially all" federal funding for schools – which totalled about $6 billion last academic year – if the state decided to skip standardized testing in response to Hurricane Harvey, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said Tuesday.  Morath's comments reinforce the widespread belief that Texas students will take the state's standardized tests, known as STAAR, this school year. Some parents and advocates have argued that the tests shouldn't be administered because students are more likely to perform poorly after missing class time and suffering trauma due to the hurricane and subsequent flooding. view article arw

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD has given itself a goal of having 90 percent of its graduating students leave high school with at least a semester’s worth of college credit hours. At the moment, it is graduating half its students with 12 hours or more. The school district also wants to have over 50 percent of its graduating students leave school having earned an associate’s degree or a college certificate.  At present, 25 percent are graduating with some level of college completion. view article arw

Almost every classroom in the Refugio school district was damaged by Hurricane Harvey. "There was no building in our district that escaped some kind of damage," said Superintendent Melissa Gonzales. "I believe every member of our staff and students has been affected in some way by Hurricane Harvey, many to a large degree." view article arw

Despite pleas by some officials from school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, the state education commissioner told lawmakers Tuesday that it will be difficult to delay student testing or suspend testing requirements altogether this school year.  Commissioner Mike Morath told members of the House Public Education Committee that he doesn’t have the authority to permit students in Harvey-affected areas not to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The test is tied to federal funding, which makes up about 10 percent of the state’s education budget.  Morath said delaying STAAR administration could also create further difficulties for school districts, including pushing the last day of school further into the summer and affecting summer school schedules. view article arw

Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza has signalled that he may soon revisit the topic of changing the way magnet schools are funded and how they accept students. Carranza said at an education summit last week that the district may rethink where magnet programs are located as well as the lottery and audition systems through which students are accepted at such schools. view article arw

The Midland ISD board took the next steps toward District of Innovation status. After a public hearing on Monday, the board approved the creation of a committee that will look at opportunities to make changes to public education in Midland. Those changes could include moving the start-of-school date back one or two weeks and bringing non-certified teachers into the classroom. Three people spoke during the public meeting – all principals and all in favor of MISD becoming a District of Innovation. view article arw

The McKinney ISD board of trustees approved a resolution to become a District of Innovation during a board meeting Nov. 14. The designation gives the district more local control and increased freedom and flexibility, according to district documents. view article arw

The Houston Independent School District has to revise its turnaround plan for its longest struggling school for the second time, as pressure of a potential state takeover mounts. The district had previously submitted the plan for Kashmere High School in June and again in October. Both times, the Texas Education Commissioner informed HISD that it was missing key details. Most recently, Commissioner Mike Morath wrote it lacked budget information and written input from community members. view article arw

The first reading of the local district of innovation plan for Carroll ISD was met with approval at the board of trustees meeting Nov. 13. A district of innovation allows traditional independent school districts most of the flexibilities available to open-enrollment charter schools, including exemption from certain requirements mandated in the Texas Education Code. view article arw

The Midland ISD board voted Monday night to increase the number of class-size waivers to more than 100. The board had previously voted to ask the Texas Education Agency for 96 waivers. MISD officials said Monday night that district officials had been able to lower than number to 70 but the number of new students and other factors forced the need for an additional 31. Trustees gave the OK for the additional 31, in addition to the 70 currently in effect.  view article arw

Just over 41 percent of Central Texas high school graduates are ready for college, a double-digit decline from two years ago. Schools in nine Austin-area districts fared slightly better than the statewide average; only 39 percent of Texas graduates in 2016 were ready for college, according to the latest data available from the Texas Education Agency. It’s more than a statistic. Students who are not college-ready by Texas standards must take remedial courses once enrolled in higher education, costing them time and tuition money before they can forge ahead with other college courses. view article arw

An East Texas high school student is more likely to earn a college degree if he or she lives in Panola County — despite Panola having the region's second-lowest percentage of students finishing high school — an analysis of higher education outcomes shows. A new database, compiled by The Texas Tribune using information from the Texas Education Agency and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, shows that 24.7 percent of Panola County students go on to complete a post-secondary degree. That tops other East Texas counties and is about four points higher than the state overall. view article arw

Decades of inequities in the state’s public school finance system have created an unlevel playing field for Texas students.It is encouraging when the hard work being done to overcome those injustices pays off, as it has in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  Students in Texas Education Agency, Region 1, an area that spans the tip of Texas along the border and one of the highest poverty areas in the country, are outperforming students in other parts of the state — including Bexar County. view article arw

The Gilmer ISD board of trustees will meet Monday to discuss staffing requirements and district and campus improvement plans. view article arw

Leaders of school districts heavily affected by Hurricane Harvey told a legislative panel on Monday that they would like to see Texas’ accountability and testing requirements relaxed in the wake of the disaster. They also said the storms have dealt a financial blow and that they weren’t optimistic about being reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or insurance anytime soon. view article arw

Hutto ISD tops target STAAR scores

November 1008:15 AM

Every eligible Hutto ISD campus scored above the statewide target for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests, according to Assistant Superintendent for School Support Dr. Robert Sormani. STAAR assessments annually test school districts on student proficiency in the fields of reading, writing, science, social studies, U.S. history and multiple levels of mathematics. Students in grades 3-8 are assessed by these tests every year, though the tests change by grade level. view article arw

North Carolina decided to copy Tennessee’s failed “Achievement School District” by creating a special district to take over low-scoring schools, giving them to charter operators, and claiming victory. Despite the abysmal failure in Tennessee, North Carolina created an “Innovative School District” and identified 48 Low-scoring prospects. One by one, they got off the state takeover list, after protests by parents and local boards. Finally, only one was left, and its school Board decided to close the school rather than let it go into the takeover District. view article arw

Accountability and student progress across multiple grade levels is the focus for Hays CISD leaders after they unanimously approved a Targeted Improvement Plan forHemphill Elementary Oct. 23. The trustees’ move was done via a 7-0 vote and comes after Hemphill was listed as “Improvement Required” by the Texas Education Agency for the second year in a row. Hemphill, along with Science Hall Elementary, were listed as IR campuses by the TEA in 2017.    view article arw

Marshall ISD is looking to hire a fourth-grade teacher at one of its new elementary school campuses after being denied class size exemption waivers from the Texas Education Agency, said Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson. Marshall ISD submitted five class size waiver requests to the state seeking exemptions to the 22-students-per-class rule in kindergarten through fourth grade. view article arw

Kemp ISD receives highest rating

November 0808:10 AM

Kemp ISD received a rating of “A” for “superior achievement” under Texas’ School FIRST financial accountability rating system. The “superior achievement” rating is the state’s highest, demonstrating the quality of Kemp ISD’s financial management and reporting system. This is the 15th year of School FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas), a financial accountability system for Texas school districts developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999 and amendments under House Bill 5 during the 83rd Texas Legislature. view article arw

Marshall ISD is now looking to hire a fourth-grade teacher at one of its new elementary campuses after recently being denied class size exemption waivers from the Texas Education Agency, Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson said Monday.  Marshall ISD submitted five class size waiver requests recently to the state agency seeking exemptions to the state's 22 students per class rule.  All five of the district's requests were to cover classrooms from William B. Travis Elementary School, including four bilingual classrooms and one general education fourth-grade classroom. view article arw

As Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson started his last of three community meetings about contingency plans for five schools on the verge of closure, he dove into deeper details about what realigning campuses or nonprofit partnerships could look like if the schools don’t pass state standards again in May. He reiterated the options under state law for a third time Monday at the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and focused on what’s next for his administration and the Waco ISD school board between now and January. view article arw

Leander ISD officials presented data on student reading competencies at the district’s board of trustees meeting Nov. 2. The information served as baseline data for LISD’s Superintendent Performance Goal 1.3, which aims to increase the number of students in grades K-8 reading at or above grade level by 2 percent by the end of the 2017-18 school year. The goals are targets for student performance, district finances and workplace environment set for Superintendent Dan Troxell by the district’s board of trustees, according to the district’s board briefs. view article arw

The Temple Independent School District hopes to take the reins if the state approves a proposed District of Innovation plan. District of Innovation is a state designation that allows school systems to be exempt from some regulations. TISD discussed its tentative District of Innovation request in a recent board retreat, and the board is expected to formally begin the process of applying for the designation at its November meeting. view article arw

High-achieving juniors in the Lake Dallas ISD are now guaranteed admission to the University of North Texas through UNT’s Eagle Advantage program. Juniors in Lake Dallas ISD who rank in the top 20 percent of their class will earn guaranteed admission to UNT. “We are very excited to partner with the University of North Texas and offer the Eagle Advantage program to our students,” said Lake Dallas ISD Superintendent Gayle Stinson. “To have guaranteed admission to one of the top universities in the state allows Lake Dallas ISD graduates the opportunity to achieve their dreams to obtain higher education close to home.” view article arw

The Abilene Independent School District board Monday will consider creating a committee to investigate becoming a District of Innovation. An agenda for the meeting, which begins at approximately 6 p.m. Monday in the district's board room at One AISD Center, 241 Pine St., calls for the consideration of a resolution expressing interest in the title and for forming the committee. If approved, the committee would investigate multiple forms of innovation the district can consider later this school year, essentially bypassing many state mandates. "Basically, anything a charter school can do, you can do," Trustee Angie Wiley said during a board workshop Thursday. view article arw

Good Idea!  Every senior at 31 area high schools can go to community college for free next year under a new program called the Dallas County Promise.  That’s more than 9,000 students eligible for free tuition regardless of grades or income level.  The new initiative will pay for an associate’s degree or up to three years at a Dallas County Community College District campus. Students can then continue on tuition-free at UNT-Dallas or seek scholarships side aside for some of them at Southern Methodist University. view article arw

Lamar Consolidated Superintendent Thomas Randle made it clear during his speech at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Schools Nov. 1–Lamar CISD is a growing district that is only going to get bigger. Lamar CISD spans 385 square miles, makes up 43 percent of Fort Bend County and is only 25 percent built out, according to Randle. “That gives you an idea that there is going to be a lot of growing in Lamar CISD,” Randle said. Over the next decade, Lamar CISD is expected to reach 55,000 students, according to the district’s demographer. Randle explained the importance of the district’s current bond election, and how it is critical to keep up with the growth Lamar has seen. view article arw

Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa rolled out an ambitious plan on Thursday that would convert at least 13 campuses to charter schools and close three DISD schools. The plan is part of Dallas’ effort to avoid state takeover should any of the district’s four lowest performing schools fail again this year. The district potentially faces severe punishment for lagging schools that could even include replacement of the school board.  “We can do all or none of this,” Hinojosa said. However, he said if the board wants to have the plan in place by next school year, a decision needs to be made soon.  Trustees had a message for their superintendent: Slow down and focus on the four lowest performing schools first. view article arw

Lewisville ISD officials are evaluating the district’s class ranking policy. At the crux of the issue is deciding if graduating classes should be ranked academically by GPA. LISD Chief Communications Officer Amanda Brim said the district is re-evaluating its ranking process to consider how the reporting of GPA on high school transcripts can benefit, or negatively impact students as they apply for college. “This meeting is happening throughout the state,” Chief Schools Officer Joseph Coburn said. “It’s a hot-button issue for lots of people.” view article arw

Monday’s Waco Independent School District community meeting in East Waco on contingency plans for five academically struggling campuses at risk of closure saw more friction than a similar gathering a week earlier, but it culminated in a rallying cry by NAACP chapter president Peaches Henry for more commitment by those who volunteer to help. That’s exactly what it’ll take to reverse matters: commitment. view article arw

Tarkington High School recently received distinction designations from TEA for Academic Achievement in Social Studies, Reading/ELA, Science, and Top 25 percent in Closing Performance Gaps. Tarkington High School Principal Daniel Barton would like to congratulate the staff and students for achieving a new standard of excellence for the high school. view article arw