Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa wants to close down two schools and convert two others to charter schools to avoid harsh punishment from the state for their poor performance. He declined to say which of the four failing campuses would be closed or change under his plan, which will be presented to trustees at a Nov. 2 board meeting. view article arw

Giving letter grades to schools is a fraud. In New York City, the Department of Health gives letter grades to restaurants, and almost every restaurant gets an A unless there are unhealthy, unsanitary conditions discovered by inspectors, like mouse droppings in the kitchen. School letter grades attempt to grade schools largely by test scores, whether performance or growth. The scores largely reflect the affluence or poverty of the students. view article arw

Plano ISD trustees on Tuesday discussed the structure of a weighted GPA work committee and advisory council, the next step in a district initiative that could potentially alter its class ranking practices. The advisory council would comprise members of the Plano community—such as parents and students—as well as district staff and serve as a sounding board for all points of view in regards to the district’s weighted GPA practices, Assistant Superintendent of Campus Services Susan Modissete said at Tuesday’s work session. view article arw

Lewisville ISD is continuing its discussions on how to rank its students. During Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Chief Schools Officer Joseph Coburn updated the board on what steps have been taken since trustees discussed the matter last spring. LISD’s Curriculum and Programs Committee met in September to go over the district’s options – continue to rank all students; only rank the top 10 percent or consider alternatives, which could include student choice. view article arw

During Monday’s Georgetown ISD school board meeting, trustees heard updates on the new state accountability guidelines and how the district will accomodate the new system. Melissa Holt, GISD’s executive director for curriculum, informed the board of updates surrounding the implementation of House Bill 22, which passed during the 2017 Texas legislative session. HB 22 piggybacks on a plan lawmakers approved during the 2015 session that set in motion the grading of Texas schools on an A-F basis. view article arw

In a climate of constantly evolving state standards, Wichita Falls ISD officials presented the Board of Trustees with the district's strategic priorities in its improvement plan. Several board members, though, felt the district's goals could be more aggressive and expressed concerns over the current plan. view article arw

Five Waco Independent School District campuses are on notice from the state: Improve your academic performance or risk being closed. In addition, the Texas Education Agency said the school board could be replaced with state appointees, due to the schools continually failing to meet state testing standards. view article arw

It's not exactly how Deilanis Santana planned to spend her 13th birthday: waking up before dawn, packing up her life – and heading to Connecticut to live with her grandma. But here she is at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, three weeks after Hurricane Maria, waiting anxiously like many other Puerto Ricans for flights to destinations like Miami, Philadelphia, and other cities. The gates are crowded with children — Deilanis among them — leaving their homes, and sometimes their families, to live in the U.S. mainland and go to school. view article arw

Leaders of the largest district in Texas have approved turnaround plans for 27 struggling schools in an effort to avoid a state takeover or closures. The Houston Chronicle reports trustees of the Houston Independent School District on Thursday approved measures targeting low-performing schools. Examples include adding staff, having more bilingual-certified teachers and focusing on students needing help in certain subjects, such as reading. view article arw

Several school districts in the Houston area made the 2018 list for Best School Districts in Texas. According to the website Niche, the rankings are based on rigorous analysis of key statistics, data from the U.S. Department of Education and millions of reviews from students and parents using Niche. view article arw

There are new efforts underway to prevent what’s become a big problem in Central Texas: chronic absenteeism. That’s when a student misses 20 days out of the 180 school year — or about one out of every 10 days of school.  For the first time a summit will be held in Austin to help district leaders learn new ways to curb the problem. According to E3 Alliance, 2.3 million individual students missed school within the last five years in Central Texas. That costs the district money. view article arw

Hutto ISD Thursday night announced that the district had received an ‘A’ rating from the School Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas. The rating is the highest of four available determinations from the state’s financial accountability rating scale. The School Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas is a program developed by the Texas Education Agency. view article arw

Representatives from 18 campuses in McAllen ISD (the most of any school district in the state and second most in the nation) were recognized as America’s Healthiest Schools at the Texas Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) Leaders’ Summit held October 6-7 in San Antonio. view article arw

Plan to improve Raye-Allen set

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Raye-Allen Elementary School, now in its second consecutive year rated Improvement Required, has a new turnaround implementation plan. The Temple Independent School District board of trustees approved the plan Monday. Principal Fran Smetana gave a presentation on the school’s progress, assisted by Assistant Superintendent Bobby Ott. “Our 2017 STAAR results actually were very impressive,” Smetana said. “I’m proud of Raye-Allen.” view article arw

There are so many things about Midland that inspire me. Perhaps it’s the robust, wildcatter mentality built with a rich tradition of taking calculated risks, the generous spirit of the community, the vibrant opportunities for growth…and we can’t forget to mention Friday night lights.  On my first visit to Midland, I knew this was one very special place. Despite all of the incredible things about our community, one thing stands out above the rest, and that is the unwavering support and passion this community has for Midland ISD.  view article arw

Five of Waco Independent School District’s six struggling schools started the school year with a warning from the state’s top education official: Meet state accountability ratings next year or state law will require the campuses to close or the district’s elected school board to be replaced with state appointees. view article arw

ROUND ROCK, TEXAS - Round Rock Independent School District is testing out a program that some feel will help high school students have a better chance at getting into the college of their choice.  The district has started a pilot program to do away with class rank at one of their schools -- Westwood High School.  Other districts in the area have previously taken the action view article arw

Curriculum Sources

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Recently, I was meeting with a school board to provide some training on the practices of effective school districts. I was pointing out the providing teachers with a common scope of sequence is a leadership responsibility, and to not do so is a failure of leadership.  This board instantly understood the logic of this and one board member asked how her district was doing.  I said that they were on the right track, but they have made a critical misstep that was hampering implementation.  The error, they had four curriculum sources (or platforms). One for each content area.  view article arw

The Lone Star State has more than 1,000 school districts, and nearly two dozen of the best are right here in North Texas. Twenty-one school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth region are among the top 100 in the state, according to Niche’s “2018 Best School Districts in Texas” list. See all of the North Texas districts to make Niche's top 100 in the slideshow below. view article arw

Pine Tree ISD targets literacy

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If there's one concern for Pine Tree ISD educators this year, it's literacy. The fact that many students struggle to read at their grade level is an issue that officials say they're specifically targeting through academic intervention and other programs. It's "to bring them up as close to grade level as we can get them," Pine Tree Middle School Principal Mickey White said. "Now we've got these kiddos who are reading on a first-grade level and some below that. We're not going to get them all the way up to fifth and sixth grade (in) a year, but if I can get them, let's say up two grade levels, and the next year if I can get them up two more grade levels, then (Pine Tree Junior High Principal Vanessa Robinson has) got a shot with them when they finally hit seventh and eighth grade." view article arw

Houston ISD trustees were expected to vote Thursday night on campus turnaround plans for 14 of the district's longest-struggling schools.  However, the district refused to provide copies of the plan to the news media in advance of the meeting and did not publish them with the board's meeting agenda materials. view article arw

The Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees will consider requesting a waiver from the Texas Commissioner of Education related to maximum class sizes at tonight’s board meeting. The regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the district’s Instructional Support Center, 10300 Jones Road, Houston, and can be viewed live at www.cfisd.net/en/about/know-your-district/board-calendar. The board convened Monday, Oct. 9, to preview and discuss several items on the regular meeting’s agenda, including the waiver request. “The majority of our waivers—if not all of them—are for unanticipated growth,” Deborah Stewart, associate superintendent of human resources and student services, said at Monday work session. view article arw

Houston ISD trustees voted Thursday night to approve campus turnaround plans for 27 of the district's struggling schools as it seeks to avoid a state takeover or school closures triggered by low performance at some of those campuses. The turnaround plans focus on campuses that have been categorized by the state as "improvement required" for between one and eight years, 10 of which could trigger a state takeover of the district if their academic performances do not improve this school year on standardized tests. view article arw

Kudos to Travis Early College High School and Crestview Elementary for the enviable distinction of being recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools. The awards, announced last month by the U.S. Education Department, was earned for each of the schools’ overall academic excellence. The schools are in an elite group of only 342 school nationwide selected for the recognition. They join more than 8,500 schools recognized by the Blue Ribbon program during the past 35 years. view article arw

After years of struggling with academic performance, the Texas Education Agency appointed a board of managers for the Marlin Independent School District. The five members were sworn in back in February, making this their first full year on the job. The main focus of the board is student progression, something the district has already been making strides in. "I'd put these kids up against any kids any day of the week and twice on Sundays because at the end of the day, they're the ones that have to do the work and they do it," said Kimberly McKnight, principal of Marlin Elementary School. view article arw

The Lone Star State has more than 1,000 school districts, and some of the best are right here in greater Houston. Sixteen school districts in the greater Houston area are among the top 100 in the state, according to Niche’s “2018 Best School Districts in Texas” list. Check out the gallery above to see which school districts in the 10-county Houston region made the top 100. The Pittsburgh-based review company ranked 831 Texas school districts. These rankings were based on weighted factors that included academics, teachers, and extracurricular activities, per Niche's website. The data comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Niche surveys and self-reported numbers from the schools themselves. view article arw

Longview-area school districts earned mostly high ratings as part of the annual Texas Education Agency's Community and Student Engagement Ratings. All four school districts in the Longview area — Longview, Pine Tree, Hallsville and Spring Hill — earned overall exemplary district ratings and high marks in individual categories. Campus designations included mostly exemplary or recognized, with a few passing acceptable ratings. No campus was given a failing score. view article arw

The Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees will discuss updates of improvement required campuses and student outcome goals during their work session at 6 p.m. today in the first floor board room of the administration building, 802 N. Sam Houston Ave. The board will also discuss requests for approval for roof repairs and replacement for Hays STEAM Academy and Blackshear Elementary Magnet. view article arw

Midland ISD appears headed toward a District of Innovation designation. During the monthly board meeting today, the board will hear a presentation about the District of Innovation process that allows independent school districts to access most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools.  view article arw

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath today announced that certain school districts and charter schools within the Governor’s state disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey will be eligible for an adjustment to their average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the 2017-2018 school year, holding them harmless for losses of funding due to enrollment declines stemming from the storm. “Many of our school systems have seen major disruptions in their communities because of Hurricane Harvey,” said Commissioner Morath. “This one-time adjustment is meant to bring some certainty for the remainder of this school year as school leaders face a number of major financial decisions following this devastating storm.” view article arw

At a luncheon hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Society of Marketing Professional Services, Connie Lopez, deputy director for Region One’s Finance Advisory Council, spoke of the excellent achievements of Valley schools. “Region One is the strongest region academically … We compete with every region across the state, and actually we beat them,” said Lopez. In their 2017 accountability report, the Texas Education Agency did find Region One to be the highest performing in the state. view article arw

Many local schools are providing students the chance to graduate high school with the skills needed to start working in a high demand career without going to college. In Dripping Springs, the district is now the first school in the state to offer a real estate class where students can graduate and earn their license soon after.“At the end of this school year if they are 18, they will have satisfied their education requirement and immediately sit for the real estate license,” said Dripping Springs ISD teacher Michael Lemonds. view article arw

Some students in the Judson school district are worried that an academy that allows them to earn an associate's degree while still in high school could close. “Going to JECA is different,” said Jesse Gutierrez, a senior at Judson Early College Academy. “It's not your traditional high school." The Judson Early College Academy - or JECA - first opened in 2009. view article arw

Even before Harvey hit Houston, several schools there faced a do-or-die year: Improve and get off the state’s list of chronically failing schools, or be closed down. Turns out, it’s not that easy to know what makes a passing grade. That’s because the state of Texas is changing how it grades schools, and the system isn’t final yet. Those state report cards were a big topic at a recent community meeting in Kashmere Gardens. There, principals from schools in the area meet every month to talk about how they’re working to improve their schools. At their first meeting since Harvey, they got up, one by one, and gave updates on their latest ratings from the state. view article arw

For the second year in a row, Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has earned two National Blue Ribbon School recognitions. U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, announced Thursday that Austin Elementary School and Jefferson Elementary School have been named 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools and are among 342 schools from across the country receiving this honor. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” said DeVos to the honorees via the internet. view article arw