The Texas Education Agency announced Thursday that all Texas school districts and campuses will forgo school accountability grades this year due to school closures brought on by the novel coronavirus’ spread.  Instead, districts and campuses will receive a special “Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster” rating for the 2020 year.  “While we continuously work to ensure our ‘A-F’ Accountability System paints an accurate picture of school performance, these unprecedented circumstances have forced all of us to change and adapt,” TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement Thursday. “Given we won’t have underlying information to assess performance, we won’t be assigning accountability letter grades for the 2019-20 school year.” view article arw

State academic accountability ratings for school districts and campuses will be waived for 2020, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the closure of schools across the state through May 4. Instead, all districts and campuses will receive a label that reads “Not Rated: Declared State of Disaster.” The move recognizes the closure of schools during the state’s testing window inhibited the ability to accurately measure district and campus performance, officials announced Thursday evening.  This waiver comes just weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements would be waived. view article arw

Corpus Christi ISD is shifting to "pass" or "incomplete" grades instead of traditional numerical grades for the fifth six-week period of the academic year.  The fifth six-week period ends Friday. Administrators will determine grading guidelines for the final six-week period in the coming weeks, according to a letter to families from the district's educational support department.  For students in first grade and up, teachers will determine students' pass or incomplete grades based on students' submitted work, video conference and/or telephone conference with students, the letter read. view article arw

TYLER, Texas — Around this time of year, most would be prepping for the STAAR exams or prepping for their end of course assessment.  Governor Gregg Abbott suspended assessment requirements for the remainder of the school year. This includes STAAR, STAAR Alternate 2 and End of Course (EOC) assessments.  view article arw

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - It is certainly not a traditional senior year for students who are looking forward to prom and graduation in the coming weeks.  Kennedy, Kolbe and Kingsley Cashion had a much different vision for their senior year at College Station High School.  "I was expecting to be with a lot of people, spend a lot of time with all the people that I wasn't going to see," said Kennedy. view article arw

FORT WORTH Fort Worth public school students will receive a pass or fail grade for the rest of the school year and class ranks will be based on grades received during the first semester, officials announced Thursday afternoon. Students will receive at least one assignment a week, according to the district’s statement. Fort Worth schools have been closed since March 7, first for spring break and then in response to the novel coronavirus. Fort Worth school officials said teachers will begin to “monitor student progress” on April 6 to assign passing or failing grades.  The school district said:  Students in first through eighth grades will be promoted based on their average grade of the first through fourth grading periods.  High school students will receive credit for the second semester for each class if they have a passing grade.  Report cards for the fifth grading cycle will be posted to Focus on April 22. view article arw

Students are finally starting to learn how report cards will be handled during the coronavirus pandemic. Homes with school age children have been a stressful place the past few weeks. Parents working from home are accountable to their bosses and their child's school leaders. Jennifer Price, Keller ISD's assessment director, said the district wants to make it easier: no number grades for the last several weeks of school. view article arw

After more than an hour of debate, Leander ISD’s board of trustees approved a resolution to change the current semester from a letter-grade to a pass-incomplete system at a special called, online-only meeting March 31. With the unanimous, 7-0 approved resolution, all students during the second semester will receive a grade of either pass or incomplete. As a result, high school students’ cumulative GPAs and class ranks would not be affected by this semester’s academic performance. view article arw

North East and Somerset independent school districts said they are dispensing with A-F grades as their students learn at home during the coronavirus pandemic.  NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said the switch to a system that grades distance learning as “complete,” “in progress” or “incomplete” was done “in an effort to be fair and consistent.”  Educators there considered factors that may now be facing students at home such as lack of technology or adult support, along with difficult life changes if parents lost jobs because of the coronavirus, Chancellor said. view article arw

Several Texas colleges are altering their academic policies and deadlines this semester due to the many changes and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Rice University announced Wednesday that it would give students the option of choosing “pass or fail” as a grading system for their courses this semester after faculty unanimously voted. This will replace the current letter grade system for students who opt in. A passing grade will given for grades D or up, and a “fail” is given for students who earn an F. These grades will not be factored into a student’s GPA. view article arw

The Bryan school district is reviewing its options for high school graduations after Texas A&M informed the district that Reed Arena would not be available through the end of May. The district is considering all options, including a later graduation date or using Merrill Green Stadium for the class of 2020 ceremonies, district officials said in an email to parents Wednesday night.  Decisions will be based on the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said. view article arw

While many parents may have questions over the possibility of classes going exclusively online for the rest of the school year, parents of students utilizing special education have anxiety when considering this idea.  Lisa Flores has a son who utilizes special education in AISD. She says in physical classrooms, students like her son can get personal one-on-one instruction, something she worries may disappear in a virtual classroom. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency has closed its investigation into former Marlin Independent School District Superintendent Michael Seabolt after six months, an agency spokesman confirmed Thursday.  Additionally, the agency has removed flags from Seabolt’s educator certificates, which can be found on the TEA’s website.  On Sept. 4, Seabolt received a written notice of investigation from the TEA’s Educator Investigations Division, stating investigators had opened a case file to review allegations of “misappropriation of funds” and “ethics violations,” according to a copy of the letter obtained via a public information request.   (27) view article arw

Miller High School Principal Dr. Bruce Wilson was among the staff working like car hops on Tuesday. Each member was assigned a section of cars to deliver packets to.  The packets included lessons for all classes -- not just core classes but electives too. "I'm very proud of our students and parents, and it really shows how much we value education over here for parents to come out like this and patiently wait in line to get the assignments out to our kids," Wilson said. view article arw

President Trump said Friday his administration is waiving federal requirements for standardized tests for students in kindergarten through 12th grade because the coronavirus pandemic has forced most schools in the country to close for an indefinite period during annual testing season.  “The Department of Education will not enforce standardized testing requirements very importantly for students in elementary through high school for the current year,” Trump said at his daily briefing. “They’ve been through a lot. They’ve been going back and forth. Schools open. Schools not open. I think a lot of the students will be extremely happy. Some probably not. The ones that work hard, maybe not.” view article arw

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- Earlier this week, Governor Abbott officially eliminated the 2019-2020 STAAR testing requirements.  Now, schools statewide will be closed until at least April 3rd and some for longer. KBTX checked in with our local representative on the state board of education for more on how this at-home schooling is going to work. Barbara Cargill, the District 8 Representative, says no students will take the test this year.  But what does that mean for your student? view article arw

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Of the myriad ways in which education policy has transformed schools, none has birthed more enemies than high-stakes standardized testing. Parents fret about their test-averse kids and complain that holistic curricula are being replaced with drill-and-kill. Harried teachers worry about professional evaluations that tie their job security and compensation to scores. And many activists say an overreliance on exams has distorted schools’ incentives in ways that harm learning. Increasingly, the imagined solution has revolved around an end to state-mandated tests, or at least a significant de-emphasis on their importance. view article arw

CLUTE — The Brazosport ISD board of trustees unanimously approved funding for the district to pay for dual-credit classes for all Brazosport ISD high school students starting next year.  Dual-credit classes allow high school students to acquire college and high school credits at the same time. The classes cost a portion of the cost of a regular college course, but many students historically have been unable to afford the extra cost, whatever it may be, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Instruction Brian Cole said. view article arw

Millions of students who take federally mandated standardized tests every spring will not be doing so this year as a growing number of states cancel or waive the exams and even more ask Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow them to do so without penalty during the coronavirus pandemic.  With 44 states, the District of Columbia and numerous districts in other states having closed schools as of Thursday, affecting at least 47.9 million students, according to a tally kept by Education Week, some officials say it is impossible to administer exams anytime soon. view article arw

Black students were given only 10 of 766 admissions offers to Stuyvesant High School, the most selective in the nation’s largest public school district, and the 2019-20 numbers for the other seven selective high schools weren’t much better, according to data released Thursday by the city’s Department of Education.  The admissions statistics show that talk in the past year about the need to desegregate these schools was, in the end, just talk. Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza said as much in a statement: view article arw

Midway ISD fifth-grade science teacher Morgan Castillo was named a finalist in this year’s H-E-B Excellence in Education program.  Castillo is one of six educators honored in Central and North Texas. Teachers were presented with a $1,000 check for themselves and a $1,000 check for their school, while principal finalists received a $1,000 check for themselves and a $2,500 check for their school.  All finalists are invited to San Antonio on May 2-3 to compete on a statewide level for a $10,000 award and $10,000 grant for their schools. view article arw

Classes and testing have been canceled for Eanes schools as school districts across the state navigate how to keep educators, students and their families safe from the growing coronavirus pandemic.   Twenty three people in Austin have tested positive for COVID-19, including family members of UT President Gregory L. Fenves.  Eanes suspended normal operations through April 5 in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and safeguard the well-being of students and staff, Superintendent Tom Leonard announced Monday. view article arw

Texas is letting school districts decide whether certain students can graduate or move on to the next grade in the wake of canceling the state standardized test that would usually be used to make those decisions.  Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that requirements to take the STAAR exam, taken in third through 12th grade, would be eliminated this year statewide, a relief for many school officials who expected to close down indefinitely as more people contract the COVID-19 disease. Student scores on the test determine whether high school students can graduate, whether some elementary and middle school students can move on to the next grade, and whether schools can remain open. view article arw

Texas colleges are postponing spring commencement and graduation ceremonies in efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  A group of Rice University seniors, however, took matters into their own hands in a moment of uncertainty. Graduating seniors from all 11 of Rice’s residential colleges — many sporting their caps and gowns — led processions through campus Friday afternoon. view article arw

On 3/16 we all received the awaited news that Governor Abbot had waived the STAAR testing requirements for 2019-20 and was seeking a federal waiver for the ESSA testing requirements. Commissioner Morath, in his daily briefing, mentioned that (obviously) this would have a big impact on accountability, but that they were focusing on other priorities before they would give an update. view article arw

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Amy Morrison wants to make sure her kids stay on track while their schools close during the coronavirus outbreak.  The Leander ISD mother of three spent Tuesday afternoon at an Austin school supply store to buy workbooks and reading materials for her seventh, fifth and second graders.  “Just a bunch of different items to keep them occupied,” she said. view article arw

A Florida Keys man has been convicted of laundering $2 million from a Texas school district after sending a sneaky email that tricked administrators into sending him the money electronically.  The Crowley Independent School District, in Crowley, Texas, had reserved the funds to build a new elementary school and thought it was paying a construction company with which it had done business. view article arw

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is calling for the state to cancel the upcoming April STAAR test — as more public school districts suspend classes in the wake of heightened concern over coronavirus.  State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, sent a letter to the governor Friday asking that “any and all requirements and mandates related to the provision of the 2020 STAAR test” be canceled, since area school districts have “substantially limited” classroom instruction. view article arw

The East Texas district's elected school board voted to drop any outstanding lawsuits blocking the state's takeover of the district. Board members also ended a contract with lawyers involved in the dispute. Four days after a court order temporarily stopped Texas from taking over Shepherd Independent School District, elected school board members voted to effectively cede their control over the four-school East Texas district. They also fired the lawyers who got the takeover halted without a directive from the full school board.  With Friday's school board vote, Texas education officials are poised to appoint their own board of managers to oversee hiring, budgeting and operations in Shepherd ISD, a result of the long-standing academic failure at two of its schools. It would be Texas’ first state takeover as a result of a 2015 law requiring harsh penalties for districts that fail to improve long-struggling schools. view article arw

Frisco ISD officials say they support Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 16 decision to waive STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-20 school year in light of the coronavirus outbreak.  The district sent a thank-you letter to Abbott about the decision and the continued effort to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for federal testing requirements. Two days earlier, FISD and 61 other school districts sent a letter to the governor and Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath urging them to cancel STAAR administration for this school year.  “This decision will allow school districts to focus on providing the best possible instruction to our students during this unprecedented time,” FISD said in the March 16 letter. “We appreciate your willingness to listen to the concerns of school districts and to act accordingly." view article arw

Texas announced Monday it is waiving standardized testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year because of the coronavirus pandemic, following Washington state in what is likely to be widespread canceling of federally mandated exams.  The ACT college admissions test scheduled for April 4 is being rescheduled for June 13, according to ACT Inc., which owns the exam. The College Board, which owns the SAT, announced it has canceled its exam scheduled for May 2 and would refund money for students who already registered.  Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement Monday the requirements for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STARR, would be waived, and he called on the U.S. Education Department to waive federal testing requirements. view article arw

Karla Waller and her family moved to Leander in November after she was discharged from the U.S. Air Force.A married mother of two, Waller planned to enroll her 4-year-old son Sebastian into Leander ISD kindergarten in August—and she was worried.“I couldn’t even take him to the park around other children. He would just cry,” Waller said. “He was a premature baby. He’s very sensitive to noises and has a bit of ADHD.” view article arw

They’re the other district being taken over by the TEA due to failing performance.  Four days after a court order temporarily stopped Texas from taking over Shepherd Independent School District, elected school board members voted to effectively cede their control over the four-school East Texas district. They also fired the lawyers who got the takeover halted without a directive from the full school board. view article arw

Friendswood ISD is considered one of the top school districts in the state of Texas, according to a new ranking from BackgroundChecks.org.  Friendswood ISD was ranked No. 2 out of 1oo of the best school districts in Texas, according to the report. More than 10,000 school districts were analyzed using metrics such as student-to-teacher ratios, standardized test scores and graduation rates from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education to compile the ranking, per the report. view article arw

I have posted repeatedly here about the dismal academic results of virtual charter schools. Students have high attrition rates, low test scores, and low graduation rates.  This finding has been reported again and again. In 2015, CREDO at Stanford said that students lose almost a year of learning in math when they attend virtual charter schools. In many states, the virtual charters are the state’s lowest performing schools. Pennsylvania has many virtual charter schools, and none of them has ever met state benchmarks in reading and math.  The latest study comes from Indiana, as reported by Stephanie Wang in Chalkbeat. view article arw