Texas is encouraging its school districts to drastically change how they manage their campuses — an effort to quickly cut down the number that are low-performing. It is spending more than $20 million a year in state and federal dollars on districts and outside consultants working to give individual schools more freedom from state and local regulations, with mixed results: Some schools are performing better in state ratings; others are continuing to struggle.  The controversial national approach is especially unpopular with teacher groups, and has led to strikes in cities like Denver and Los Angeles. view article arw

“Having implemented The Fundamental 5, district-wide, in two school districts I can tell you that it is a simple (not easy) way to align adult behavior and improve student performance on a system level.  view article arw

Union Grove ISD could approve the district improvement plan at its board of trustees meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the high school library. Trustees also will consider approving changes to the district of innovation plan and a waiver to exempt the district from full-day pre-K until 2022. view article arw

Forney ISD was notified by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that the District has earned a ‘Superior Rating’ from the Financial Integrity Rating System (FIRST) for the 4th year in a row. In addition to the FIRST rating, Forney ISD received an A+ bond rating. view article arw

Despite two players being deemed ineligible, Mount Vernon’s Art Briles will not have to forfeit any games. “Because these students were ruled eligible in a previous DEC hearing, Mount Vernon will not forfeit any football games. The students are ineligible for varsity athletic competition starting on Oct. 8,” the league said in a statement. view article arw


October 1108:30 AM

If you are a leader, you are going to lie. If you are a follower, you are going to get lied to.  That is a given.  It is the motivation and how we accept and respond to it that matters.  Before I go further, I want to clarify that I am differentiating between the leader/follower relationship and any other interpersonal relationships. In all roles, other than leader, lying should be avoided and engaging in the practice is between you, your conscience and your God. view article arw

Today, with the support of local administrators, educators, and students at the Allen ISD STEAM Center, U.S. Congressman Van Taylor (TX-03) announced his legislative proposal aimed at expanding access to dual credit programs for high school students. Joined by local school officials, Taylor announced and signed his legislation, the Dual Credit Innovation Act, which will be introduced in the House of Representatives this coming week. view article arw

This is a story so nutty that it would be hilarious if there were no children involved. Instead, it is an outrage. When the fringe rightwingers of the Tea Party won control of the North Carolina legislature in 2010, they promptly passed laws authorizing charters and vouchers and transferring the funding from the state’s successful N.C. Teaching Fellows Program (which prepared career teachers) to the temps in Teach for America. Then they looked wistfully to Tennessee and realized that what they were missing was a mechanism for state takeover of low-scoring public schools. view article arw

Several North Texas school districts are putting out the call for additional teachers, but they don’t consider it a bad thing. “That is an amazing problem to have,” says Jeannine Porter, Ed.D, Irving ISD’s Executive Director of Employee Services. view article arw

There are those that don’t understand the power of reflective observation.  They mistakenly believe that there is nothing to learn after a few cursory visits to a classroom.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, the most important key to building insight and deeper understanding about teaching and learning is to engage in a steady volume of daily classroom observation.  What we have learned over the past ten years is that after about every 300 classroom observations, the observer will notice, discern, and/or learn something new… something that was previously hidden. It is the “Eureka” moment, and there is nothing else like it in instructional leadership. view article arw

Austin Independent School District leaders spent the last month hearing directly from parents about the district’s proposal to close a dozen schools. At the beginning of September, AISD released 39 preliminary scenarios. The options range from closing and consolidating schools to expanding some schools to accommodate grades 6th through 12th. They’re also adding new programs like e-sports and social justice and legal studies. view article arw

Scott Warstler encouraged the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees on Monday to enjoy a rezoning-free school year because it won't be like that for long. Warstler, executive director of operations, said the district likely won't have to adjust school boundaries until the 2021-22 school year. Instead, two campuses – Nichols and Spears elementary schools – are expected to close enrollment because they are approaching capacity.   view article arw

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees met on Monday, Oct. 7, to discuss the School Changes 2019 process for the first time following two weeks of gathering feedback. Most of what district staff and trustees have heard has focused on the personal: Why are you going to close my school and not some other school? Other advocates have focused more broadly on the disproportionate impact the district's proposed campus closures would have on students from low-income families. (UT's Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis found that 80% of the impacted students would be Black or Latinx, although those groups only account for 62% of the district's overall population.) view article arw

Students at Tennyson Middle School learned the importance of Rachel’s Challenge on Tuesday. The challenge is named after Rachel Scott – one of the first victims of the Columbine Shooting 20 years ago. Scott made an impact doing simple acts of kindness. Today, the project goes beyond courteous acts – tackling bullying, suicide, and mental health in classrooms. “It’s going to change how people treat others. I think it will change some behavior issues,” says 13-year-old student Aundraya London. view article arw

Austin ISD is now working on a blueprint re-do their controversial school closure plan, but with the same goal in mind: save money. AISD’s school consolidation and closure list was not well received, especially by those who would lose their neighborhood schools in the process and felt district leaders just had not heard them out. view article arw

School closures are often justified with a string of hyphenated descriptors — like “under-utilized” or “under-enrolled” — each of which speaks to an immediate need for administrative action. But no descriptor can quell the frustration of those expected to bear the brunt of a closed school, especially when it is inextricably tied to a legacy of racism. This is the case in Austin, where nine of the 12 schools proposed for closure are expected to disproportionately impact black and Latino communities. As a demographer, I am particularly interested in the effect these closures will have on the city’s black residents, who are already experiencing steep declines in their respective population share. view article arw

Austin school district trustees used a work session Monday night to address concerns about the lack of clarity and the need for more time before rolling out a final version of a proposal to shutter 12 campuses. Trustees gathered in groups of three or four to talk to district officials in 30-minute discussion sessions about three topics: school closure or consolidation scenarios, how to make the process fair, and how to spend future bond money. view article arw

Three candidates competing for a pair of Huntsville Independent School District board seats took on tough questions Monday at a non-partisan debate about school ratings, facility upgrades, racial disparity in testing and what they would do to benefit students. Position 3 candidates Cathy Schweitzer and J.T. Langley squared off in the debate alongside Position 1 candidate Tracy Stoudt. Shannon Williams (Pos. 1) and Rissie Owens (Pos. 2) did not participate. view article arw

Cy-Fair ISD began the process at its Sept. 9 meeting to become officially recognized as a District of Innovation, a designation intended to provide districts more flexibility to meet student needs. According to the Texas Association of School Boards, a District of Innovation is granted many of the capabilities already granted to charter schools, including the ability to change the school start date. view article arw

Your child comes home and asks for help with their homework. You want to help, but you struggle; this sure doesn’t look like the homework you brought home back in the day. view article arw

More than 500 Canyon students got a chance to speak with some college recruiters from across the nation. WT hosted Canyon ISD’s Senior Day College and Career Fair. Colleges, trade schools, and military branches filled into WT’s Legacy Hall to help canyon seniors plan a college career. view article arw

In furtherance of a LYS Nation tradition, we will take this time to tip our caps to the campuses that have embraced the most important step in creating and maintaining an action oriented professional learning community.  These are the campuses that have conducted an extraordinary number of formative classroom observations in a given month.  The target for PowerWalks Hero Schools in September were as follows: view article arw

On Monday night, the Forney ISD School Board announced a new partnership with Eastfield College and Texas Tech University, providing a streamlined approach that takes students from high school to community college and ending at a Tier 1 University all in Forney. “Forney ISD students will have the opportunity to complete their core curriculum or associates degree through Eastfield College and then transfer to Texas Tech University to complete a bachelor’s degree right here in Forney, Texas.” Forney ISD Superintendent Dr. Justin Terry said. “This is a great opportunity, not only for our students, but for our community. For the first time, we are bringing associates, bachelors, and eventually graduate degree programs to our students and, now, our community. Beginning this spring, our community can register for online courses, and will soon be able to take classes on our campuses.” view article arw

ACT, the maker of the ACT® test used in college admissions, today announced plans to introduce three new options to improve students' test-taking experience and increase their opportunities for college admissions and scholarships. Beginning with the September 2020 national ACT test date, students who have taken the ACT will have the option to retake individual sections of the ACT test instead of the entire exam. view article arw

Cy-Fair ISD will move forward with requesting maximum class size waivers for schools in the district after approval by the board of trustees on Oct. 7. The waiver will allow class sizes to exceed 22 students where needed within the district. The board approved the submission for the waiver on Oct. 7 after discussing the agenda item during the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Oct. 3. School districts must submit a request for maximum class size exceptions for kindergarten to 4th grade classrooms, according to the Texas Education Agency website. view article arw

Persuading a young man or woman not to leave high school before graduation can be difficult, particularly in Odessa where the Ector County Independent School District loses 40 percent of its students between the ninth and 12th grades. That rate is attributable to multiple causes, among them the lure of high-paying oilfield jobs, teenage pregnancies, homelessness and problems at home or school. District statistics indicate that of the 2,519 students who began the ninth grade for the 2016-17 school year, 1,500 graduated last spring. view article arw

New Caney ISD hopes to implement a new career and technical education, or CTE, program in the 2020-21 school year in which students would have the opportunity to build an aircraft and eventually fly in it. At the Sept. 16 board of trustees meeting, CTE Director Warren Stipling said the district has discussed starting an aviation program for several years, and NCISD would accomplish this by partnering with nonprofit Tango Flight to offer a hands-on aerospace and aviation program. view article arw

UTRGV’s Student Accessibility Services office offers a broad range of resources, including for pregnant students. But many have no idea just how diverse the services are. “We are a little surprised when students say, ‘I thought this was an office just for students with physical and mobility impairments,’” said Tonya Paulette, director of Student Accessibility Services.   view article arw

Austin Independent School District is proposing a plan to close Ridgetop Elementary school in north Austin. Almost 400 children attend Ridgetop elementary in north-central Austin. The plan, proposed by AISD is to close the campus in 2023 and consolidate classes into Reilly elementary. view article arw

Top LYS Tweets – October 6, 2019

October 0708:30 AM

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS tweets from the past week when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list.  True conservatives conserve. They conserve the principles and institutions that made America great: courts, constitution, fair markets, faith communities, public schools. These constitute the Common Good. True conservatives conserve them. They do not seek to destroy them. (By @pastors4txkids) view article arw

Humble ISD and New Caney ISD will soon take their first-ever October holidays, with the districts implementing five-day holidays from Oct. 7-11 and Oct. 14-18, respectively. The HISD board of trustees approved this new calendar system this past February in a 4-2 vote. District officials said during the February meeting that many community members were in favor of the change. HISD had amended its district of innovation plan in August 2018, granting the district more flexibility when instating its 2019-20 school calendar. view article arw

If Houston ISD trustees expected the district’s administration to make an impassioned, detailed appeal to the state for an accountability reprieve at Wheatley High School — a last-ditch effort to avoid severe state sanctions tied to chronically low performance at the campus — they did not get it from Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. view article arw

After six consecutive years of student enrollment declines, the Austin school district reversed its dwindling enrollment trend, adding nearly 700 students to attendance rolls this year. According to district data obtained by the American-Statesman, the district gained 682 students by the 24th day of school. The district had prepared for a loss of 1,600 students and factored that projected decline into the $1.6 billion budget the board adopted in June.   view article arw

Full-day pre-kindergarten is now required for public school districts throughout the state. Now, Lewisville ISD has to figure out how to make it work. As a result of House Bill 3, districts across Texas will receive the Early Education Allotment, which provides funding to help students improve performance in reading and math, including supporting full-day pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds. view article arw

The key to the Connect Personalized Learning program at Bondy Intermediate School, says Principal Roneka Lee, is how it reinforces something that has always been key to education — the student-teacher relationship. “It all goes back to relationships,” the Pasadena ISD principal said. “Our teachers are mentors and are engaged in face-to-face conversations. The (Connect platform) tech is an added bit of excellence, but relationships are the answer.” view article arw