A little more than two months after several Ellis County school districts voiced opposition to three potential agenda items of the 85th Texas Legislature, the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees had researched, deliberated and heard enough — the seven board members were ready to hop on the opposition train. The WISD Board of Trustees reached the decision to sign a board resolution of legislative priorities during their most recent regular session. view article arw

Ector County Independent School District Superintendent Tom Crowe will reassign Permian High School Principal James Ramage and Odessa High School Principal Gregory Nelson. Crowe said Wednesday that Ramage and Nelson will finish the year at their respective schools. He said they are not being fired. “I’ve been here for four years. They’ve both been in their positions for four years. Academic expectations at both schools were not met,” Crowe said. view article arw

Grade school students in Texas stated their STAAR exams Tuesday. Parents standing against what they say is "high-stakes tasting" met with KHOU 11 New for the first day of what’s called "Opt Out Academy." Instead of taking the STAAR, about a dozen students sat inside the halls of Kindred Lutheran Church in Montrose listening to retired HISD teacher, Judy Hoffhien. “Oh, I like those two words, friendship and quietness,” said Hoffhein during a class orientation. Alicia Verdier is an Opt Out Academy Organizer. Verdier is part of the larger Houston-based group, Community Voices For Public Education. “We have problems that are beyond just teaching to the test,” Verdier said. “We have problems with the test itself and the way that it’s taught and the way it’s administered.” view article arw

With STAAR tests beginning Tuesday morning, schools in Central Texas want to make sure your student doesn't miss a beat. Administrators in the area said absences could not only hold your student back, but it could also be damaging to their school. Like many things, an education requires time and money and when kids don't show up for class, they miss out on that time to learn and the schools lose funding. Missing school should not be an option for any students and Lisa Diserens the Director of Accountability and Assessment for Temple ISD said arriving late can almost have the same impact. view article arw

There's no way to sugarcoat last year’s STAAR testing: It was chaos. Computer glitches erased student answers. Delivery problems meant secure testing materials were sent to the wrong locations — including a church. Thousands of tests had to be re-scored. A lawsuit was filed. And results came back so late that the education commissioner ended up tossing the tests for fifth and eighth graders. Now many are worried about how it will go next week when students begin taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. The standardized tests carry high stakes: They determine whether some students get promoted or graduate, measure how well schools are educating kids, and even impact neighborhood property values. view article arw

Thousands of local kids are in the midst of the first week of Texas standardized testing. Last year there were big problems with the STAAR test. They arrived late, one question didn't have a correct answer and the results were questioned. Sherman ISD said they've seen some helpful changes with the exam this year, but others said it's not enough. Nevertheless, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grade students spent their day with a number 2 pencil, taking the STAAR exam. "It's really about making sure our kids are getting the instruction and the knowledge that they need to go on," Sherman ISD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Whitenack said. view article arw

Starting tomorrow, the students in the San Benito school district and across Texas will be conducting their statewide tests. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) program, which was implemented in spring 2012, includes annual assessments for the following grade levels: Reading and mathematics, grades 3–8 Writing at grades 4 and 7 Science at grades 5 and 8 Social studies at grade 8 view article arw

 It’s a big week for students all over Texas as STAAR testing begins on Tuesday. Millions of students must pass the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test to move on to the next grade, putting a lot of pressure on some students. “Oh, I'm as nervous as I can possibly be,” said Jack Stratton, a student. Last year the test was plagued with problems. For example, there was a question with no right answer, some tests arrived late to schools and a computer glitch erased thousands of results. The problems lead to a backlash from parents who don't think the test is the best way to measure a student's progress. view article arw

If the line to get a McDonald’s breakfast was longer than usual Tuesday, it was probably because of students claiming their free pre-test meals. State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, tests are being administered in Texas schools today until Friday, so the fast-food chain offered complimentary breakfasts for students and teachers on the first day of tests. view article arw

On Tuesday, parents, teachers and community members participated in a motivation rally for Marlin ISD students during the first day of state-mandated standardized testing. Marlin Mayoral candidate Demetrius Beachum organized the event, which took place at all of the Marlin ISD campuses, to encourage students to perform well. Low scores in the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness known as STAAR for five years have put the district at the risk of closing. Last month, the Texas Education Agency replaced the elected school board with a board of managers to oversee the management of the district. view article arw

All schools in Thrall will have a delayed start Wednesday as crews work to restore power after overnight storms. School will now begin at 10 a.m., Superintendent Tommy Hooker said in a statement. Buses will pick up students two hours later than their normal pick up time. Bus routes to Taylor for college and special education students are not delayed. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) today released results of a comprehensive study to gain a clearer understanding of the impact of the High-Quality Prekindergarten grants on 10 school districts and charter schools that received the grant funding. Overall, the study found that the grants had a significant impact on prekindergarten programs and a majority of grantees reported a need for continued funding in order to fully implement high-quality prekindergarten, increase kindergarten readiness and continuously improve their prekindergarten programs.   view article arw

The Belton ISD School Board voted unanimously Monday to authorize the more than $1.5 million purchase of 109 acres of land that could eventually hold an elementary school, along with an additional middle or high school. The lot, which is located near Loop 121 and Shanklin Road in Belton, is part of the district's long-term strategy to manage a fast-growing student population. To be clear, the school board has made no decision about what schools would be built on the property, and the upcoming bond election -- which includes funding for two new schools -- has nothing to do with this latest purchase.  view article arw

Highland Park school officials announced the appointment of Dr. Geoffrey Orsak as executive director of the Moody Innovation Institute. The institute, which is currently in the design and planning phase, will focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education in HPISD. It will be funded by a $5.8 million grant that the Moody Foundation gave to the Highland Park Education Foundation in August 2016. Orsak is the former Dean of the Lyle School of Engineering at SMU. view article arw

Millsap Independent School District decided to move ahead with final preparations to become a District of Innovation at a Monday board of trustees meeting. A District of Innovation is a concept passed by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842, which would give independent school districts the same latitude as open enrollment charter schools in Texas. The district would be allowed to opt-out of things such as class size ratios, credentialing requirements, uniform school start dates, minimum minutes of instruction, and state standards for teacher contracts and teacher benefits, according to the Texas Education Agency and Texas Association of School Boards. view article arw

Splendora Independent School District is now officially a District of Innovation. The district joined more than 150 Texas schools in becoming a District of Innovation after the Splendora ISD school boardvoted to approve the plan Monday, March 20. District of Innovation status lets school districts claim exemptions from parts of the Texas Education Code. During a prior meeting, Superintendent Jeff Burke described the District of Innovation status as "more a District of Exemption," saying it is an opportunity for the district to have a little more local control. view article arw

Following a presentation by Superintendent Chad Gee, Yorktown ISD board members approved a resolution to consider becoming a District of Innovation at their regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 20 in the junior high library. Trustee Nelda Sertuche motioned for the resolution, which was seconded by trustee Mark Weischwill and carried on a 7-0 vote. view article arw

A Texas Education Agency task force is preparing to release its final recommendations for improving the quality of rural school districts.  The Texas Rural Schools Task Force was formed in October with 20 superintendents selected to identify challenges outside of funding faced by their district that the Texas Education Agency could address without legislation.  Snook schools superintendent Brenda Krchnak, who represented the region that encompasses the Brazos Valley, said through four rounds of meetings, the task force outlined major challenges as recruiting and retaining teachers, providing more career technical education options and making grant writing more accessible. view article arw

Bill 85 (R) History for HR 912

March 2907:30 AM

Whereas, the Chester High School boys ’ basketball team capped off a successful 2016-2017 season by advancing to theAbi-district round of the University Interscholastic League 1A state playofffs. Under the able direction of head coach Cory Hines, the Yellowjackets demonstrated skill and determination throughout the year, facing off against stout competition in their district and finishing the regular season with a commendable 8-4 record to claim their first berth in the playoffs in nearly three decades. view article arw

Getting students ready for their annual state assessment is a yearlong process at Forest Park Middle School that's about to come to its conclusion. Like their counterparts across the state, Forest Park students will be sitting down this week to take their yearly tests, which measure how much they've learned in the past school year.For Forest Park Middle School Principal Shay Thompson, helping students to believe in themselves is one of the biggest goals her teachers have in preparation for the tests. view article arw

Austin ISD joined more than 100 other Texas school districts tonight when its board of trustees voted unanimously to approve an innovation plan which will exempt it from a handful of state requirements. The plan will be in effect until March 27, 2022.A district classified as a District of Innovation adopts a plan that exempts it from certain state laws, including site-based decision-making, school start date requirements, minimum minutes of instruction, class size ratio, attendance rules, disciplinary procedures, teacher contracts and other legal requirements.  view article arw

Students across Texas begin taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test Tuesday, while state education officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of last year. Texas Education Agency officials say revamped efforts and nearly $20 million in improvements should help avoid glitches with the tests during the first year that New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) administered the Texas exams. Last March, more than 14,000 students had their answers erased or were given wrong versions of the test. Some of the students’ scores were sent to random locations and other scores were found to have been reported inaccurately. view article arw

Raising test scores in Buckholts

March 2808:06 AM

“The most magnificent view you’ve ever seen is in that stadium as the sun is going down over the football game,” Superintendent Nancy Day Sandlin said, gesturing to the field where the Buckholts Badgers play six-man football surrounded by cattle pastures and corn fields. view article arw

Alvord School Board members Thursday approved a District of Innovation (DOI) plan, giving the district latitude in setting its calendar and hiring teachers. Public school districts that receive the designation are exempt from certain state requirements. The board focused on only three exemptions, including: setting its own calendar. State law says students cannot begin the new school year before the fourth Monday of August. Superintendent Dr. Randy Brown said the district hoped to move its start date forward. Later in the meeting, the board voted to start the fall semester Aug. 21, the third Monday in August. view article arw

DALLAS (AP) -- Texas Education Agency officials say revamped efforts and nearly $20 million in improvements should help avoid glitches as standardized testing begins this week.  The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2npEIit ) reports the upgrades are meant to avoid online problems with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. The exams help determine whether students get promoted or graduate.  Glitches happened last March during the first year that New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service administered the Texas exams. view article arw

Parents might be surprised about what they can do to help their students prepare for this week’s STAAR tests. On Tuesday and Wednesday, fourth- through eighth-grade students will take STAAR tests in reading, writing and math, depending upon their grade level. Students taking English I and English II also will take tests on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. Tyler ISD Chief Academic Officer Christy Hanson said the most important thing parents can do to help is let their children rest and relax. view article arw

Highland Park ISD has joined dozens of local and statewide school districts by becoming a "District of Innovation," which grants some of the flexibility available to open-enrollment charter schools in Texas.  The Texas Legislature in 2015 passed House Bill 1842, which created the District of Innovation concept. The classification grants school districts some ability to seek exemptions for five years to current rules in the Texas education code on curriculum, governance, accountability and finance. HPISD trustees voted in favor of the designation at Tuesday's board meeting.  view article arw

The District of Innovation (DOI) concept for Weatherford Independent School District has been approved by the district’s DOI committee. A District of Innovation would allow opt-outs on a variety of traditional requirements of independent school districts, including class size ratios, uniform school start dates, minimum minutes of instruction, and state standards for teacher contracts and teacher benefits. The next step is for the drafted concept to make it to a wider district-level committee for approval, before it makes to the board of trustees for consideration. view article arw

Jacksboro ISD moved forward with its District of Innovation Plan at its regular school board meeting Monday. According to the Texas Association of School Boards, “The District of Innovation concept, passed by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842, gives traditional independent school districts most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools.” It allows districts to obtain exemptions from certain provisions of the Texas Education Code. view article arw

Ector County ISD has released their District of Innovation Plan online for the public's review. The plan was developed by a 17-person committee which included teachers, parents, a principal, and district officials. Included in the plan are a Mission Statement, Vision, and Core Beliefs, as well as a timetable for the plan's development and a list of the exemptions the district seeks. view article arw

College Station school board trustees heard their first presentation regarding the development of the 2017-18 budget Tuesday. Deputy Superintendent for Business and Operations Mike Martindale made the presentation and the board was presented with the first draft revenue and expenditure numbers. According to Chuck Glenewinkel, director of communications for the district, while initial numbers show a deficit of $5.4 million, the board will monitor and adjust projections based on the results of the current legislative session

The Muenster Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday asking the Legislature to repeal the A-F accountability rating system. Superintendent Steven Self said even though the district did well, it’s still a system that’s “flawed and unfair.” A “work-in-progress” model of the new Texas Education Agency accountability rating system released to the 85th Texas Legislature in January gave school districts and their schools across the state an A through F letter grade based on four areas: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness. A fifth category, community and student engagement, was not included in the preliminary report but will be part of the rating system when it goes into effect next year. view article arw

The Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees approved the appointment of 122 members to a District of Innovation exploratory committee on Thursday, which is the first step in the DOI process. Trustee Paul King emphasized that this is the initial exploration step, not the final step in accepting a DOI plan. “This is just to study the possibility,” he said. Board chair Vernagene Mott said the committee will begin meeting in May to gather input from different groups and decide which DOI exemptions of which to take advantage. view article arw

 The Texas Education Agency will hold a training session Saturday for the Southside Independent School District as part of a pre-selection process for a new board of managers. Commissioner of Education Mike Morath lowered the district’s accreditation status in late 2016 to “accredited-warned” for the 2015-16 school year. Morath said he plans to appoint a majority of the school district’s new board of managers from members of the Southside ISD community who are committed to serving the district.  view article arw

Marlin Independent School District officials approved an agreement Tuesday with the Texas Education Agency that could seal the fate of the district if it fails state accountability ratings this year, for the sixth year in a row. view article arw