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A year after implementing a new plan, Fort Worth Independent School District officials can point to signs that an effort to keep students in school and give them a chance to work through behavior issues is paying off. But district records show the same racial disparities that existed in Fort Worth ISD’s current discipline system played out in the new model, as well. Last year, Fort Worth ISD began using a new model for discipline at Metro Opportunity School, the district’s alternative school. Under the new model, students who committed low-level offenses like using profanity were sent to a reset center, a designated room on campus where staff members trained in de-escalation were on hand to help them work through whatever problems were behind their behavior issues. view article arw

The Brazosport ISD Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously voted to join a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency (TEA) over recent changes to its accountability ratings system. Editor's note: The above video was published on Sept. 12. According to BISD, the changes the state agency made to the "A" to "F" grading scale for districts create a different set of rules for teachers to be graded on that will make it "impossible" to compare ratings from 2022 to 2023. view article arw

More North Texas school districts have joined the fight against the Texas Education Agency’s new criteria for grading Texas schools. The state’s new plan could turn A schools into C schools and is retroactive from the last school year. view article arw

More North Texas school districts have joined the fight against the Texas Education Agency’s new criteria for grading Texas schools. The state’s new plan could turn A schools into C schools and is retroactive from the last school year. Fort Worth ISD became the latest school district to join a lawsuit against Mike Morath, as commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. The districts are claiming his new method for grading schools is unfair to schools by significantly dropping their campus grades despite an increase in test scores. view article arw

Public universities like Texas A&M University rose in U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings after the criteria was adjusted because of complaints. The 2024 Best National Universities list, released Monday, had Texas A&M jump 20 steps to reach the 47th spot out of 439 national universities. The change in ranking, the Washington Post reports, happened because the criteria no longer considers factors like class size or alumni giving when evaluating schools and has started tracking the graduation rates of first-generation college students at the universities. “For 40 years, students and their families have come to count on Best Colleges as a vital resource as they navigate one of the most important decisions of their lives,” said Eric Gertler, executive chairman and CEO of U.S. News, in a press release. Read more at: view article arw

Mike Miles, the state-imposed superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, has never been a teacher, but he thinks he knows exactly what teachers should do. He has dubbed his behaviorist program the “New Education System.” Those teaching in certain designated schools are required to do it his way or get out. Clearly he has never read the research on motivation (Edward Deci, Dan Ariely, Daniel Pink), or he would know that forced compliance depresses motivation. view article arw

The Fort Worth Independent School District could be joining the growing list of districts across the state that are suing Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath over the Texas Education Agency’s accountability ratings system, which is changing this year. The school board has called for a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday to consider joining the lawsuit, according to district spokesperson Cesar Padilla. The lawsuit revolves around a new criteria for grading schools that districts say will harm their performance ratings, even if performance improved, by way of “retroactively changing the rules,” the lawsuit filed on Aug. 23 reads. TEA doesn’t comment on ongoing legal matters, agency spokesperson Melissa Holmes told the Star-Telegram on Friday. view article arw

A top Houston ISD leader last week scolded teachers at two campuses for failing to embrace and fully implement the New Education System and is now moving to terminate at least one teacher who spoke out with concerns about the model. Luz Martinez, the Central Division superintendent in HISD, called a last-minute, after-school meeting Friday with teachers from Cage Elementary and Project Chrysalis Middle School, two NES-aligned schools that share the same facility and administration. Martinez delivered a stern lecture, telling teachers that they must commit to implementing the NES model in their classrooms or they will be reassigned to a non-NES campus, according to a recording of the event shared with the Chronicle. "You're going to have to think this weekend if this is what you want to do. If you're one of the teachers who is refusing to do the will not be here in this campus," Martinez said. "I will reassign you to another place, because we are not going to be fighting this battle all year long." view article arw

On their last report card from the state, 21 Dallas ISD schools got Ds or Fs, something teachers and students worked hard to fix. "We would have essentially cut our 21 Ds and Fs in half, and that would have made more sense to our community in terms of a lot of work to do and we're moving in the right direction," said Stephanie Elizalde, superintendent, Dallas ISD. view article arw

On their last report card from the state, 21 Dallas ISD schools got Ds or Fs, something teachers and students worked hard to fix. "We would have essentially cut our 21 Ds and Fs in half, and that would have made more sense to our community in terms of a lot of work to do and we're moving in the right direction," said Stephanie Elizalde, superintendent, Dallas ISD. Changes to the way grades are calculated means those schools won't see the improvements they've made reflected on this upcoming report card. "I would never have any evaluation of any member of my team based on previous evaluation criteria, and at the end of the period of time that I'm going to evaluate them say I've changed my mind I'm going to evaluate you on something else," said Elizalde view article arw

Austin ISD was given the notice of intent of state conservatorship over the district’s special education department from the Texas Education Agency back in March. The district appealed the conservatorship and TEA gave the district another option – a monitor, instead of a conservator. AISD has until September 29 to agree to the TEA’s alternative option. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency plans to install a conservator over the Austin school district due to systemic backlogs in evaluating students for special education services, officials told the district Friday. Unlike the agency’s stunning takeover of the Houston school district two weeks ago, Austin will retain its school board and interim superintendent, but it will face strict oversight from the state. TEA Director of Special Investigations Adam Benthall, in a report about the district’s backlog, told board members and staff Friday the state planned to install a board of conservators because of “systemic noncompliance." view article arw

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas. (CITC) — A Texas school district recently refused to provide public copies of its social-emotional learning curriculum, claiming that the curriculum is protected by copyright law.  The Corpus Christi Independent School District (Corpus Christi ISD) purchased a one-year license with Second Step in 2021, according to documents obtained by advocacy group Parents Defending Education (PDE) and shared exclusively with Crisis in the Classroom (CITC). Second Step is a social-emotional learning curriculum which has programs for students from pre-K to twelfth grade. view article arw

Frisco Independent School District joined multiple Texas school districts in filing a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for failing to adequately notify school districts of the changes made to accountability ratings. District campuses are rated annually with an A through F letter grade by the Texas TEA. The rating system relies on performance measures, methods and procedures based on students' performance on the annual standardized assessment (STAAR). In 2022, Frisco ISD was the largest school district in North Texas to receive an ‘A’ accountability rating from TEA.  Although improvements were made in STAAR scores and a rise in the proportion of students meeting college, career and military readiness benchmarks, the adjustment to the accountability system is anticipated to reduce the rating for Frisco ISD and numerous other districts across Texas. Because of these changes, the district expects a decrease of one or more letter grades in the ratings for several of its campuses. view article arw

Comal ISD has been named a District of Distinction by the Texas Art Education Association for the fifth consecutive year. According to the district, the visual arts program at Comal ISD is among the top 1.3% of all visual arts programs in Texas. Put in perspective “This is a huge honor and testament to the dedication and passion that our teachers provide our students on a daily basis,” CISD Fine Arts Director Gary Cooper said in a statement. view article arw

In theory, the Texas Education Agency’s proposed deal with Austin ISD to improve the district’s special education programming is about evaluations – the backlog of special ed evaluations that the district has built up over the last few years, a backlog that has kept students who want those services from receiving them. But if the deal is about the evaluations, why is TEA trying to force AISD to do so many other things? Austin ISD’s board of trustees held a meeting on Sept. 7 to discuss the TEA’s proposed deal, and it was impossible to tell from their remarks whether they will ultimately agree to it. Several trustees expressed reservations. But they also expressed confidence that they could meet the TEA’s aggressive demands. view article arw

The regular meeting from the Houston Independent School District was held on Thursday evening. One of the main issues discussed was whether to create a plan for a District of Innovation for Houston ISD. view article arw

Midland ISD will be without a National Merit semifinalist for the fifth time in six years. The National Merit Scholarship Corp. reported Wednesday that no Midland County high school – public or private – landed a student on the list of 16,000 semifinalists from around the nation. view article arw

Texas school districts have to wait a bit longer to implement the new 2023 Texas Education Agency's A-F accountability rating system after officials announced Tuesday they would temporarily postpone the release of school ratings. TEA officials said the newly formulated state school ratings were scheduled to be released on Sept. 28 but now will be posted in "approximately one month." view article arw

TEA said it needs to make adjustments to account for changes in students’ academic performance after the pandemic. The delay comes after several school districts sued to stop the agency from releasing school rankings produced under a new rating system.  The Texas Education Agency announced Tuesday it would delay the release of its annual school ratings to account for scoring changes that could negatively impact schools under a revamped version of the agency’s accountability system.  The TEA, which was supposed to release the ratings on Sept. 28, now expects the rankings to be released sometime next month. It’s unclear whether the new ratings will be announced before lawmakers reconvene in Austin for a special session on public education and school vouchers, which is expected to be announced before the end of the year. view article arw

CENTRAL TEXAS (FOX 44) – Several school districts across Central Texas are joining the lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency. This comes as the Texas Education Agency announced Tuesday that the A-F accountability ratings would be delayed a month. The ratings are now expected to be issued in late October. The lawsuit is challenging the lack of transparency in the criteria used as part of the A-F Accountability System. This means the data expected to be issued this fall for the 2022-2023 school year will be based on a different set of rules than previous A-F ratings, and making it impossible to compare the ratings from 2022 and 2023 side by side. view article arw

Houston ISD took the first step Thursday in the process to be a District of Innovation, a move that would allow it to seek exemptions to several state laws. To become a DOI, an HISD committee must draft an innovation plan that outlines the specific exemption the district plans to seek, and then both the District Advisory Committee and school board must approve of the plan and any future amendments. A total of 965 out of the roughly 1,000 traditional school districts are DOIs There is no comprehensive list of all the state laws that DOIs can seek exemption from, but districts most commonly seek exceptions to laws mandating that the school year start on the fourth Monday of August, teacher certifications, probationary contracts for new teachers, class size limits and minimum months of service for educator contracts, according to the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

The hallways of Momentous School in Dallas are relatively quiet for the second week of school. Around every corner, kids in the elementary school classrooms are taking the MAP test, a standardized test that teachers use to gauge students’ learning level at different points in the school year. There’s a steady hum of focused energy down the hallways. Third-grader Prisha Patel, 8, took the math MAP test earlier that day. But she really wants to talk about breakfast. “I had waffles for breakfast,” she said. “It was so good. Waffles, they’re hard. I want them soft, but they still taste good.” She wasn’t stressed at all about the test, which she said was fun. At the start of the day, she talked with a partner about what would encourage them in the MAP test, going over what tricky questions might show up. view article arw

The big problem(s) with grades

September 1308:30 AM

In the early 20th Century, K-12 schools began developing and implementing systems to grade students, with many of them adopting what was already in use in some colleges and universities — the A-F system. Students have been complaining about them ever since, and education historians have noted their virtues as well as their many deficiencies. In their new book, “Off the Mark: How Grades, Ratings, and Rankings Undermine Learning (but Don’t Have To)” Jack Schneider and Ethan L. Hutt write about the influences of grades, test scores, and transcripts on schools and students as they map out ways that assessment currently undermines student learning and offer ways out of the predicament. Following is an excerpt from a chapter about grades. Schneider is a historian, policy analyst, and a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has written several books, including, “Beyond Test Scores,” and co-wrote “A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School.” Hutt is a program director and associate professor of education at the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who co-authored a book titled “Absent from School: Understanding and Addressing Student Absenteeism.” view article arw

Eight of the nine Katy ISD high schools recently ranked among the best in the United States, according to the U.S. News and World Report. view article arw

For the first time since the Texas Education Agency appointed new leadership to the largest district in Texas, students recently returned to classrooms for Houston ISD's first day of school. The Houston Chronicle asked the HISD community to share how things are going now that the district is under state control. Some responded that they had a relatively normal return to school, and that they approved of and even welcomed the extensive reforms at campuses under the district's "New Education System." But a majority of the responses decried the takeover, namely the NES reforms and policies under the district's state-appointed superintendent, Mike Miles. Some staff and parents described their school environments as "depressing and scary," while some teachers said they are already considering leaving the district. Yet others said their expectations have been exceeded already, and that they feel teachers have elevated their efforts to improve the quality of education for students. Superintendent Miles has said the changes are necessary to closing achievement gaps and raising student proficiency. view article arw

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne threatened earlier this year to withhold funding from schools using the 50-50 language model.  Arizona’s public schools chief is taking the governor and attorney general to court in an ongoing spat over how English Language Learner students should be taught.  On Wednesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, a Republican, filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court asking the judge to settle a disagreement over the interpretation of state law between his office and Gov. Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes. view article arw

At the event attendees expressed concern regarding special education, dual-language programs and recently implemented reforms at the district’s New Education System schools  Houston Independent School District's state-appointed board of managers held the first of this month's 10 community engagement meetings Tuesday night. At the event, which the district said is to allow community members to share their priorities for HISD, attendees expressed concern regarding special education, dual-language programs and recently implemented reforms at the district's New Education System schools. view article arw

Next generation credentials are a compentency-based alternative to transcripts that allow colleges to make better admissions decisions.  In recent years, understanding has grown that traditional ways of measuring student performance aren’t always the most effective.   More and more colleges no longer require the SAT as an admission requirement — in fact, more than 1,900 institutions are not requiring the ACT or SAT for fall 2024 admissions, according to a recent count from FairTest.   The Carnegie Foundation, the founder of the time-based Carnegie Unit, or credit hour, that is used to measure “seat-time” in K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, recently announced it is moving away from the measure. Instead, it wants to focus on the development of competency-based assessments, which often involve using authentic performance assessments to demonstrate mastery against clear competencies and criteria.  The traditional high school transcript should be next on the burn list.  view article arw

Students and teachers returned in late August to schools that may look different than last year as a new state-appointed superintendent makes sweeping changes across Houston ISD. Principals and teachers are being held to different expectations and lots of new acronyms are being used, including NES, NES-A and DOI. Catch up here with everything you need to know about the new administration and the changes it is making in the largest school system in Texas. view article arw

Rethinking the STAAR Test

September 0808:40 AM

How we measure success in Texas public schools? Right now, standardized testing and an A-F accountability system that assigns grades to campuses is used almost entirely to grade our schools. Accountability, and the transparency it brings, is essential. We need to make sure the 5.4 million students in Texas public schools are provided with the tools they need to eventually enter the workforce, and that taxpayer money is being put to good use. But what if we had a system that looked at more than how students do on one test on one day? What if we decided that what makes a “good school” goes beyond test scores and we evaluated how districts prepare students for life and career through things like early childhood education, dual language, fine arts, and extra-curricular programs? Or the many crucial resources public schools provide to ensure the well-being of their students, like meals, mental health services, and campus security? This is a wholly achievable idea — and one that had momentum and bipartisan support during the most recent legislative session. But, like so many other worthy public education issues, accountability and assessment reforms went down in the battle over private school vouchers during the 88th Session. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) – New data presented on Thursday during the Austin Independent School District school board meeting revealed the district was behind on 488 evaluations for students who are suspected of needing special education services as of Aug. 25. According to district data, the number is down from July, when more than 1,300 evaluations were still not completed despite missing federal and state-mandated deadlines. view article arw

School districts contend that the change to the TEA's rating system would lower scores for some schools, giving the perception that they are under performing. view article arw

TEXAS (KAMR/KCIT) – Throughout the course of human history, mathematics has served as a literally universal language, making it possible for people to build civilizations, make scientific discoveries, and even travel into the stars. Math has sets of standardized rules and formulas that students all over the U.S. learn to use; however, it looks a little different in Texas. While math is math and the numbers may not change, students in Texas learn it in a different standard than most other states. In fact, it’s illegal in Texas for students to have the same math standards as students in New Mexico, Louisiana, or most of the rest of the country. How did that happen, and how is Texas math different? view article arw

One Fort Worth school made the list of top 50 public high schools in Texas, in rankings released last week by U.S. News & World Report. The Young Women’s Leadership Academy at 1066 W Magnolia is ranked 23rd within Texas and 159th nationally. The public all girls’ school for grades 6-12 “offers girls a dynamic learning experience that encourages critical thinking, inspires confidence and nurtures both the intellectual and social development necessary for them to be successful in college, a career, and in life,” according to the school’s website. view article arw