Civic leaders urged parents, volunteers and local organizations Tuesday to get more involved in improving Houston ISD's lowest-performing schools, which risk triggering a state law that could result in campus closures or a state takeover of the district's school board. At a community event held at Emancipation Park Community Center in the city's Third Ward, local leaders focused on intensifying engagement in the district's black communities, where several of Houston ISD's longest-struggling schools are concentrated. view article arw

Although it is fluid at this point, Ector County Independent School District Superintendent Tom Crowe told the district trustees about discussions with Odessa College President Gregory Williams about starting a school of choice with the college. Crowe said it would be for juniors and seniors who are in danger of dropping out. The school would enable the students to finish high school while earning a certification in welding, for example. Nothing is set in stone, but Crowe said he just wanted to tell the board he was talking to Williams about a dropout prevention program. view article arw

The superintendent also signaled that he and the board are looking to develop a capital campaign that could call for a series of four bond elections over the next 20 years. view article arw

The Liberty Hill Independent School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the adoption of the 2018-2019 school year calendar at their monthly meeting Monday, which includes a few changes, like an earlier start date and a later spring break. LHISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Toni Hicks said the district calendar committee consists of a group of teachers, parents, campus principals, district personnel and community members. Together, this group set several goals as they planned next school year’s calendar. view article arw

Longview school leaders hope a new online initiative sparks reading interest for young students across the region. East Texas Reads, the new program the Longview ISD kicked off Monday, already has inspired the district's students to read at least 10,000 books within two weeks of its unofficial launch, said Carlos Lopez with Myon Personalized Literacy. view article arw

Waco Independent School District has taken the first step toward a blended learning model by giving teachers a way to improve literacy through software that gives direct feedback for student improvement. Teachers were trained on “Achieve 3000” during winter break, and have spent the last month and a half using the software to gauge individual literacy needs for students across all subject areas, Waco ISD spokesman Kyle DeBeer said. The district paid $285,000 for the software out of its instructional materials allotment, he said. view article arw

White Oak ISD and Police call it an ill-advised prank but parents are urging the district to add safety measures to their schools. On Friday a picture of a child holding a gun circulated around social media. In the picture, there was a message saying, “First Florida and now your very own White Oak, TX, who’s next” view article arw

The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees meeting on Feb. 16 addressed many changes coming to the district, including a potential district of innovation plan. view article arw

AUSTIN – The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has extended the comment deadline for its online survey soliciting feedback on a draft corrective action plan for special education. The online survey period will now run through Tuesday, Feb.20.  At the direction of Governor Greg Abbott, TEA drafted an initial corrective action plan regarding the support and delivery of special education services in the state’s public schools. The initial draft addresses all issues identified in a recent federal monitoring report, including the proper identification of special education students and assuring access to appropriate services at the local level. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency has appointed a nonprofit agency out of Boston, Mass., to advise Waco Independent School District on how to build a potential in-district charter system with the local nonprofit Prosper Waco, if five underperforming schools don’t pass state academic standards in May. Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson announced the new layer of the transformation process at Thursday night’s school board meeting. The partnership is a requirement tied to the TEA’s $450,000 transformation planning grantgiven to the district in December, Waco ISD spokesman Kyle DeBeer said. view article arw

The year is 2022. The place is Abe Martin Stadium. The event is my daughter’s graduation. As I stand on the stage and hear Mr. Stephens say, “Joslyn Goffney,” I swell with pride and tears. My baby girl has accomplished her goals and is ready for the opportunities that await her. view article arw

TEA increases oversight of Donna ISD

February 1608:40 AM

DONNA — The Texas Education Agency has notified Donna school district officials of their decision to upgrade the previously assigned state monitor to a conservator, a level higher of oversight.  TEA originally assigned Linda Romeros as monitor of the Donna school district in June 2017 to oversee its financial status, management and governance.  The initial appointment came after a special accreditation investigation by the agency that unveiled a “lack of internal controls to allow the board of trustees to comply with the requirements of the state law,” according to a letter sent to the district in 2017 and signed by A.J. Crabill, deputy commissioner of governance at TEA. view article arw

Community members and a Houston ISD trustee on Wednesday advocated suing the state over a recently passed education law that could lead to a state takeover of the district's school board. Several speakers and Trustee Jolanda Jones called for filing a lawsuit during a community meeting at Cullen Middle School, the second such gathering held to address proposals for major changes at 10 low-performing Houston ISD schools. Those proposals were made in response to a law commonly known as HB 1842, which gives the Texas Education Agency an option to wrest control from school boards if they don't improve academic performance at long-failing campuses. view article arw

The Sierra Blanca Independent School District will not close its doors in July after all as the Texas Education Agency has agreed it can continue operating while it works to improve its rankings. The West Texas school district, which sits between El Paso and Van Horn, was one of four school districts to lose its state accreditation this year, according to a report released by the TEA on Friday. The district was slated to close in July, when its 120 students would have been consolidated into a neighboring district.  view article arw

The Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a request to notify the Texas Education Agency that the district may enter into a contract with a third-party on improvement required schools. Supplemental agenda material said “while the district does not to commit to whom we are partnering and we may determine later not to partner with anyone, we must submit the attached Letter of Intent to keep this option open.” view article arw

The Hearne Independent School District wants to turn two of their campuses into charter schools. The district is applying for an in-district charter policy from the Texas Education Agency. Superintendent Adrain Johnson hopes this change will help them improve their accountability ratings. The district has received an "improvements required" rating for three years in a row. Hearne High School improved to a "met standard" rating in 2017. view article arw

The state’s education agency announced that it has revoked the accreditation of four Texas school systems this year, including Sierra Blanca Independent School District in West Texas. If an effort from the district to appeal the state's decision is unsuccessful, Sierra Blanca ISD would be forced to close in July and its more than 120 students would be consolidated into a neighboring school district, which could include those in El Paso, Hudspeth or Culberson counties. view article arw

Marlin ISD remained on the state’s “improvement-required” list for the sixth year. Waco Independent School District may draw statewide attention from parents, lawmakers and public education advocacy groups as it prepares to fashion an unprecedented in-district charter system to prevent closure of several academically struggling campuses. But in the case of nearby Marlin ISD, the spotlight increasingly shifts from school operations to the Texas Education Agency as the latter ponders what to do next about repeated academic failures, even under TEA vigilance. view article arw

High school juniors and seniors will be able to earn college credit in several subjects starting this fall after the Crosby ISD Board of Trustees agreed to take part in University of Texas at Austin's OnRamps dual-enrollment program. "Research has shown that if a student completes as little as one college course, then they are many times more likely to go on and successfully complete a degree at a college or university," Todd Hicks, Crosby ISD's second education executive director said. view article arw

Hispanics represent more than 50 percent of student enrollment across Texas public schools — and 63 percent of student enrollment within the Fort Worth ISD. It would be fair to say the success of Texas schools rises or falls with Hispanic students, many of whom are English language learners. Therefore, the progress of English learners should be a vital data point for school accountability systems across our state. English language learners are one of the fastest-growing student groups in Texas, and sadly, these students are among the most likely to drop out of school. We are diligently working across the Fort Worth ISD to close an achievement gap of almost 20 percent in graduation rates for English learners. view article arw

Hundreds attend Job Expo

February 1408:15 AM

About 212 job-seekers were in attendance at the Marshall News Messenger's Job Fair & Expo. "We had an outstanding turnout for our first job expo of the year," Publisher of the Marshall News Messenger Jerry Pye said. "As a local news outlet, we are happy not just to keep the community informed of current events, but also to aid in networking for Marshall's businesses, industries and residents." view article arw

The Texas Education Agency has revoked both Buckholts ISD and Marlin ISD's accreditations as public school districts in Texas after both failed to meet state standards five years in a row. Now, both districts are at risk of closing -- though no official decisions have been made.  Marlin was listed as "improvement required" in 2011, and then again for five consecutive years in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Buckholts also had below-acceptable TEA accountability ratings between 2013 and 2017, according to the TEA's latest accreditation status list published Friday. view article arw

There are more than 3,000,000 high school seniors set to graduate in 2018; but only a select few will be considered for a prestigious national honor. Caleigh Studer first gained some fame when she was one of just about 2,200 students to get a perfect score on her ACT. Now, she's part of another select few, nominated for a special honor, with the potential of receiving that honor at the White House.  "I'm like every other kid." view article arw

Three Houston ISD campuses have been removed from the list of schools under consideration for major changes designed to prevent a state takeover of the district's school board. District leaders have nixed proposals to close and restart Hilliard Elementary and Cullen Middle schools, and to form a partnership with an outside organization at North Forest High School. In recent days, district officials have also nixed similar plans at Lawson Middle School and Madison High School. view article arw

The Midland Independent School District unanimously voted on the decision to be a District of Innovation. The District of Innovation designation allows a school district to file for a number of exemptions from the Texas Education Code. The Midland School Board voted on seven exemptions Monday night. They include an earlier start date for students, class sizing and teacher certifications. view article arw

Schools are celebrating the 100th day of class, but in Nacogdoches ISD, more attention will likely be paid to the next 100 days. Contingency plans are in development should two schools not come out of “improvement-required” status. The options are few when two campuses are in improvement-required, or IR, status and possibly could remain there into a sixth year.   view article arw

The Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 1 to become a District of Innovation (DOI) and voted in a calendar that includes an early start date. C-FB ISD joins several other districts in the area to become a DOI. In the approved calendar, the first day of school will be Aug. 20, and the last day will fall on May 30. Spring Break will start March 11, Thanksgiving holiday will start on Nov. 19, and winter break will begin Dec. 24, ending on Jan. 4. view article arw

Following the second-consecutive assignment of an “improvement required” rating by the Texas Education Agency, Austin ISD has outlined improvements to student and staff performance needed at Burnet Middle School. A campus turnaround plan is required by state law for schools that have received a failing grade two years in a row. Some of the highlights of Burnet MS’ plan, scheduled for implementation in school year 2018-19 and 2019-20, include: view article arw

While flu has been especially bad in Brazos County this season, attendance at Iola ISD is down this month. The district told KBTX around 50 to 60 students were out, on average, every day because of the flu last week. Iola only has about 510 students enrolled. "Last week was pretty tough on us," said Iola ISD Superintendent Chad Jones. view article arw

Frisco ISD will expand its academic programming over the next few years with the implementation of several new programs. On Monday night, the Frisco ISD board of trustees approved implementing new programs Advance Via Individual Determination, or AVID, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, Primary Years Programme and Project Lead The Way Launch. “In Frisco ISD we want to create student choice and student opportunity,” said Katie Kordel, Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  view article arw

On the extremes of the right and the left, there is a growing desire to discredit a generation of progress in American public schools.  Critics have adopted a "nothing works" stance: The previous four presidents, the story goes, have advocated higher learning standards, tests that measure whether students met those standards and an expectation of action based on results. Yet, these critics assert, there's been no progress. Therefore, standards, tests, accountability systems and a generation of new schools dedicated to serving the poor must not have worked. view article arw

More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don't require teachers to be certified, according to state officials, because of a recent law giving schools more freedom on educational requirements.  While some Northeast Texas districts have been approved for the "District of Innovation" program allowing the exemptions, none of the three contacted Friday have taken the option to bring so-called industry specialists into classrooms. view article arw

A big decision is coming for the Midland Independent School District on Monday. At a school board meeting taking place at Bowie Elementary at 5:30 p.m, the school board will vote on a list of exemptions from the Texas Education Code that have been proposed by a school board selected committee in a move to register the Midland Independent School District as a District of Innovation.  view article arw

Hutto ISD Assistant Superintendent Robert Sormani on Thursday night presented updates to the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic calendars process to the Board of Trustees. Sormani will soon propose academic calendars for the next two years. To prepare the calendars, Sormani and HISD staff collected responses from more than 2,000 survey participants including parents, faculty and other staff. According to Sormani’s presentation, the final calendars combine feedback from parents and staff “to the greatest extent possible”. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency no longer recognizes Marlin Independent School District as a Texas public school system, following consecutive years of deficiencies in academic performance, the state agency announced today. Marlin ISD was one of four school districts in Texas to receive a “not accredited — revoked” status for the 2017-18 school year when the TEA released accreditation ratings for school districts and charter schools across Texas on Friday. The status will not affect students this school year, including graduating seniors. District officials have said another agreement with the state that would allow operations to continue is being developed and could be approved this month. view article arw