Are you an HISD teacher or parent? We’d love to hear from you. Email dominic@houstonpublicmedia.org The Supreme Court of Texas could issue a final decision in Texas Education Agency v. Houston Independent School District as soon as this month. One of the key considerations: changes to the system that places sanctions on districts with low-performing schools. TEA argues the changes in the law make their position stronger, and that the agency should be allowed to install a board of governors in place of the democratically elected school board. Republican State Senator Paul Bettencourt of Houston authored the bill that made that possible in 2021. “The bottom line is that if a school system fails, the state needs to move in and change out the leadership,” he said. “Because we can’t afford to lose a generation of kids in a bad education system because they’ve got bad leadership from trustees in specific areas of the state.”    (06) view article arw

Texas schools participate in new standardized testing system, possibly replacing STAAR AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - More than 130 Texas public school districts including Amarillo, Borger, River Road , Dumas, Spearman and Wellington ISD to participate in a new standardized testing system and could be a possible STAAR replacement. In 2019 state Legislature required Texas Education Agency (TEA) to develop a through-year assessment model as a possible replacement of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. This is the first year the TEA is piloting a new standardized testing system for schools. Area districts tell us students were given a shorter test, faster results. view article arw

Mesquite ISD is working to help its paraprofessionals become certified educators. The district launched a new program called Pathways Advancing to Certified Educators (PACE) – a rebrand of a statewide para to teacher program. “This is very unique and new,” said Jennifer Hiser, Professional Learning Coordinator. “It's designed for employees who have been working in the school and do not have degrees yet to be able to earn their degree while they are serving as a classroom teacher.” The program began last school year under former superintendent David Vroonland as a way to showcase paraprofessionals’ talents in the classroom while helping them earn their degrees, Hiser said. “It's my understanding that this is a new position for professional learning,” Hiser said. “I have been working with new teachers for the past several years. I was an instructional coach for new teachers. We've been able to do some really fun and effective work for teachers to acclimate and be able to learn by growing and find some efficiency with that volume of work.” As the program grows, Hiser said she hopes to continue helping educators hone their talents through hands-on experience while earning their degrees. After recently opening registration for the program, the district has received 26 applications. view article arw

For University of Houston-Victoria education students, by the time they graduate from the university, they will begin their teaching career on a level comparable to a second-year teacher, as part of a new residency program that allows more time developing skills in a classroom environment. JagsTeach is a new residency program within the UHV teacher education program. Through this new program, students who will become teachers will have an opportunity to have more time learning by experience in the classroom so that they are more prepared for their careers after graduation. Under this transformed program, students are imbedded in a classroom at a school for an entire academic year rather than a semester, creating teachers who are ready for their second full year of teaching as soon as they graduate from UHV. view article arw

After years of lackluster math test scores, the Fort Worth Independent School District is now using a new math curriculum that district officials say will help students understand not only how to work with numbers, but also why they might need to. The district adopted a pair of new math curricula at the beginning of the current school year. Elementary schools in the district now use Eureka Math, and middle schools use Carnegie Learning. District officials say the new curricula focus more on problem-solving and conceptual learning and less on memorization of formulas. Read more at: https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/education/article269036597.html#storylink=cpy view article arw

Lewisville Independent School District focuses on four key areas for the district’s legislative priorities for the 2022-2023 school year: student learning, student experience, resource stewardship, and community engagement. For student learning, LISD aims to advocate for an accountability system that focuses on improvement, is forward-facing, and not stigmatizing. LISD takes two stances when it comes to student learning, accounting for all student’s abilities and understanding that HB 3906 online assessments require infrastructure investments. view article arw

The University of Texas at Austin is celebrating a milestone after helping 600 Texas teachers earn a computer science teaching certification. The program, called WeTeach_CS, was formed in 2015 with the goal of preparing in-service educators to teach computer science. “STEM and computer science careers are the fastest-growing careers in the country and can be ladders of economic opportunity not just for students, but for entire families,” said Carol Fletcher, director of Expanding Pathways in Computing at UT Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center. “Regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status, every student deserves an opportunity to learn computer science skills.” view article arw

Texas Thespian Festival

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The RHS Theater Magnet had a dozen students qualify for nationals after their performances at the Texas Thespian Festival. Four students from Lake Highlands High School and one from Pearce also qualified for nationals while Pearce Theatre students gave one final performance of “Mean Girls” on the festival mainstage. “ “Mean Girls” also received overall best tech crew for a mainstage play, as well as best sound, best hair and best lighting. Quinn Buchley was named best supporting actor and Bella Denissen was best named best actress. Pearce’s Jacob Merschel was honored with the best cameo in a mainstage play. Bella Denissen also qualified for nationals in the solo musical category, as did Carrington Black and Ava Hutchinson of LHHS. Audrey Norris and Lilly Mehari of RHS qualified in the solo musical category, as well. Jackson Knefley of Lake Highlands qualified for scenic design. Caroline Honeycutt of LHHS and Tao LeBlanc of RHS qualified for stage management. view article arw

Next year, Texas legislators can finally break our state’s overreliance on a single test in the teaching of our children and the evaluation of our public schools. It is an opportunity to deliver the relief and sensible reform that parents and educators consistently support. It is also a chance to move Texas toward a system that better tells us whether schools are meeting the expectations of employers and Texans. Let’s all hope that legislators rise to this moment. Our current accountability system depends heavily on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, better known as STAAR. In fact, STAAR performance is the only variable used to evaluate Texas elementary and middle schools in the state’s A-F system of grading campuses. This system defines success too narrowly while putting enormous pressure on kids.    (29) view article arw

Next year, Texas legislators can finally break our state’s overreliance on a single test in the teaching of our children and the evaluation of our public schools. It is an opportunity to deliver the relief and sensible reform that parents and educators consistently support. It is also a chance to move Texas toward a system that better tells us whether schools are meeting the expectations of employers and Texans. Let’s all hope that legislators rise to this moment. Our current accountability system depends heavily on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, better known as STAAR. In fact, STAAR performance is the only variable used to evaluate Texas elementary and middle schools in the state’s A-F system of grading campuses. This system defines success too narrowly while putting enormous pressure on kids. view article arw

Lometa Independent School District approved the District of Innovation plan at last week’s meeting, a plan that will extend through 2027. The plan is focused on ways the district can increase innovation as well as student learning, school officials said. First adopted in November 2017, the original DOI plan will expire in December of this year. Superintendent Rob Moore explained the… view article arw

Three months into the school year and already the Seguin ISD is witnessing progress at each of is secondary schools including both middle schools that have struggled to report student success over the last several years. Calling it “amazing progress” is Seguin ISD Superintendent Dr. Matthew Gutierrez. Gutierrez says assessment scores comparing same student success from last year to this year and scores from October to November illustrate a favorable trend for all students. view article arw

The Katy ISD board of trustees voted unanimously during its Oct. 24 meeting to approve three attendance boundary modifications in an effort to curtail overcrowding at its schools. The approved boundary modifications touched campuses in the district across three areas: the southwest, northwest, and northeast quadrants. All modifications will go into effect in August 2023. view article arw

WOLFFORTH, Texas — For a fourth consecutive year, Frenship Independent School District student Cesar Guzman is headed to the National Spanish Spelling Bee. According to a press release from Frenship ISD, Guzman, a fifth-grader at Willow Bend Elementary, recently clinched first-place in the 12th Annual Lubbock Spanish Spelling Bee Championship. His win secured his spot at the national competition this summer. view article arw

W.T. White stakeholders quiz Elizalde about choice schools, COVID consequences Stephanie Elizalde wore W.T. White orange during a recent meet and greet at the high school and explained how she views her role as Dallas Independent School District superintendent. “I used to think that the superintendent was at the top of the organization, and I’ve discovered that an effective superintendent is actually at the bottom — it’s an inverted triangle,” she explained. Her role, Elizalde said, is to “lift up” the organization. A few dozen parents, teachers, students, and faculty spread out in the auditorium to hear the new superintendent, who began her role in June. Elizalde sat alongside Trustee Edwin Flores, ready to answer questions. Many inquiries centered around school choice and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. view article arw

La Porte Independent School District has received its 20th consecutive “A” rating for “Superior Achievement” under Texas’ School FIRST financial accountability rating system.   The rating is the state’s highest, demonstrating the quality of La Porte ISD’s financial management and reporting system.  This is the 20th year of School FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas), a financial accountability system for Texas school districts developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999 and amendments under House Bill 5, 83rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2013.  The primary goal of School FIRST is to achieve quality performance in the management of school districts’ financial resources, a goal made more significant due to the complexity of accounting associated with Texas’ school finance system.  “We are very pleased that La Porte ISD has received superior fiscal accountability ratings every year since the FIRST system was put into place 20 years ago,” said Superintendent Dr. Walter Jackson. “This is a testament to our efficiency in providing a world-class education, and it shows that we are excellent stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.”   view article arw

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD held its regular meeting on Thursday, Nov. 3 to cover a report on bilingual/ESL learners in the school. Olivia Perez, the Secondary Director of Bilingual/ESL at CFBISD, and Maria Carolina Christiansen, the Elementary Director of Bilingual/ESL at CFBISD, presented on the academic progress of emerging bilinguals in the district. “Our culture as professional learning communities is key for the continuous improvement of our craft for the benefit of all students and it’s a critical piece when we think of our emerging bilinguals,” Christiansen said. The district currently has 9,504 emergent bilinguals, which is roughly 38% of CFBISD’s student body. In 2020, the district had 290 bilingual newcomers, 837 for 2021, and 631 for 2022. view article arw

Should we get rid of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (or STAAR) test? It’s been a frequent promise by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, but whether the state can (and should) get rid of the standardized test comes with quite a few caveats. First, a brief history of standardized testing: Historically, some kind of yearly assessment has been part of learning for centuries. But in 1965 President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which included testing. After a Reagan-era report warning that American students were falling behind, several administrations attempted to address that, but it wasn’t until 2002, and President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, that mandatory standardized testing with accountability measures became the norm. view article arw

Taking the SATs is a stressful, anxiety-inspiring rite of passage for many high school students. But over 50 students at an El Paso high school may have to take the tests again — after their tests flew out of the UPS truck transporting them and were lost or destroyed. The El Paso Independent School District told CNN that it is currently working with the College Board, which administers the SATs, to “determine a remedy” for the students whose tests were lost. The SAT is a standardized entrance exam used as metric for applying to colleges across the United States. A total of 1.7 million students in the high school class of 2022 took the SAT at least once, according to the College Board. view article arw

ECISD sets GT Super Saturday

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In an effort to let the community, teachers and parents know what’s going on in the gifted and talented world, Ector County ISD will host ECISD GT Super Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 12. The event will be at Blackshear Elementary School, 501 S. Dixie Blvd. The event will be in English and Spanish and they will each have keynote speakers. For the English part, it is Kathy Koch, an author and founder of Celebrate Kids Inc. and co-founder of Ignite the Family. view article arw

The Conversation) – When Frances E. Anderson saw the latest math scores for America’s fourth- and eighth-graders, she was hardly surprised that they had dropped. Until recently – including the period of remote instruction during the pandemic – Anderson taught high school math to students at all levels.“ Now she is a researcher seeking to change how people understand children’s math ability. In the following Q&A, Anderson explains what makes some kids “good” at math and what it will take to catch up those who have fallen behind. view article arw

The Archer City ISD school board approved the campus improvement plans during its school board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Secondary principal Dr. John Sherill went over the junior high/high school improvement plan. He said the first part of the plan is a campus needs assessment the back part goes over the goals for the upcoming year. “Because of increased concern for illicit drugs, like…The Archer City ISD school board approved the campus improvement plans during its school board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Secondary principal Dr. John Sherill went over the junior high/high school improvement plan. He said the first part of the plan is a campus needs assessment the back part goes over the goals for the upcoming year. “Because of increased concern for illicit drugs, like… view article arw

A roomful of second graders spent a recent fall morning learning about a bossy mother named “Mama E” who follows her kids around reminding them to say their names. The whimsical story was part of a phonics lesson at Denver’s Bradley International School. The point was that adding an “e” at the end of a word changes the first vowel from short to long — for example, pin becomes pine because the “i” says its name. Teacher Megan Bobroske challenged the children sitting elbow to elbow on a rainbow striped rug in front of her — could Mama E live at the front of the word instead of the back? A little boy named Peter piped up: “She has to be at the end of the word.” he said. “Imagine if she’s on the front of the line, she’s going to be too busy saying her name.” view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick singled out Dallas schools along with other urban areas, calling them “dropout factories” as he pushes for voucher-like efforts. Patrick said on a radio talk show this week that any upcoming school voucher legislation would exclude small, rural districts and instead be only directed at large urban communities so families could leave failing schools.” “If there is a school-choice bill passed, it’s focused on our big cities, our big districts,” Patrick said on the Chad Hasty Show on Monday. “We’ll bracket out rural Texas.” Patrick’s comments are just the latest from the state’s top Republican leaders indicating support for initiatives that would allow public dollars to be used toward private school education. view article arw

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Independent School District (GISD) held its monthly board meeting Monday, Oct. 24 in the school library. The board met to hear the report and recommendations from the Texas Association of School Boards. (TASB) The GISD board met to hear a report the district had requested of their staffing situation from TASB. Karen Dooley, Assistant Director of Human Resources for the organization presented her findings from a survey conducted using questionnaires, date and interviews. Dooley said the review looks to create efficiencies and effectiveness in school districts. Dooley told the GISD board that several local districts are requesting such reviews, but that Grapeland got in early and would be the first to see their results. GISD Superintendent Don Jackson invited the principals to hear the recommendations and ask questions. view article arw

The College Board recently awarded nine Belton ISD students with academic honors through its National Recognition Programs, an initiative in its third year, for their performance on the Preliminary SAT. “The College Board National Recognition Programs aim to create pathways to college for students from underrepresented communities by awarding them academic honors and connecting them with universities across the country,” Belton ISD spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said in a news release. view article arw

The Marble Falls Independent School District is expanding its prekindergarten program to include 3-year-old students born on or before Sept. 1, 2020. Pre-K 3 is a full-day prekindergarten class intended to improve mental and developmental growth through education and social interaction. “Marble Falls ISD is excited to have the opportunity to offer the Pre-K 3 program for all children,” said Yarda Leflet, assistant superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction. “We know we have many families who will benefit from this opportunity and are anxiously awaiting seeing these young learners next fall.” The district already offers Pre-K for 4-year-olds. Both Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 prepare children for kindergarten with an emphasis on cognitive skills, fine motor strength, language, and social-emotional growth. view article arw

Richardson ISD Superintendent Tabitha Branum and Plano ISD Superintendent Theresa Williams addressed teacher shortages and increasing workforce opportunities during a State of the District Luncheon on Nov. 1. The event, which was hosted by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, included representation from both RISD and PISD as well as city of Richardson officials. Among the topics discussed during the State of the District was the issue of continued growth among students. Despite concerns about a learning gap because of the pandemic, both Branum and Williams said their respective districts are confident in the growth of their students going forward. view article arw

Annual accountability ratings for Texas’ elementary and middle schools are based almost entirely on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The Measure What Matters Council, convened by education policy nonprofit Raise Your Hand Texas, wants to change this. “Texas measures student learning based on one test on one day,” council chair Kelli Moulton said at an Oct. 25 news conference. “This does not provide a full picture of an individual's achievement and growth, especially for our emergent bilingual students and students requiring special education services.” Since October 2021, over 15,600 educators, parents, students and more from across Texas responded to a survey from the council. Just 1% of respondents said the STAAR was “an excellent measure” of a good school.    (01) view article arw

TNS) — Willis Independent School District students have a new tool at their disposal since the district launched its new partnership with Paper, an online tutoring service that is available every day, all year round. "It provides us an option to integrate the whole school system. So, parents, students, and teachers," Sara Goolsby, assistant superintendent of teaching, innovation and learning for Willis ISD, said. "With other tutoring programs that we researched it was limited to certain stakeholders in education." The district signed a three-year contract with Paper for $245,000, using federal emergency COVID funds. At least 20 percent of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds the district received have to be used to address learning loss. If the district chooses to continue using Paper after three years, it will use funds from the annual budget. view article arw

The honor is meant to create pathways to college for students from underrepresented communities.  - BELTON, Texas — Nine students from Belton Independent School District have earned national academic honors from College Board for their performances on the PSAT test.  The students ranked among the top 2.5 percent of test takers who identified as African-American, Hispanic or Latinx, Indigenous or attend school in a rural area or small town.  To qualify for the honor, students had to reach at least a minimum required PSAT score, as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.  “It’s always great to see our Belton ISD students honored for their hard work and dedication to learning,” said Superintendent Matt Smith. “We applaud this achievement and all that this award represents.” view article arw

Raise Your Hand Texas released a report Tuesday that outlines ways to change how standardized testing is used to evaluate students and schools. The recommendations come just months ahead of the next legislative session. A group that advocates for public education is urging Texas lawmakers to rethink the role state standardized testing plays in assessing students and schools. “It’s time to reign in STAAR and the stronghold it has on our teachers and schools,” Kelli Moulton, a former superintendent, said at the state Capitol on Tuesday.    (01) view article arw

When Texas students sit down to take next spring’s STAAR tests, things might look a little different. And as officials work on a revamp, some advocates want state leaders to dial back on the testing and limit their high stakes even more. The redesigned State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, known as STAAR, will have more writing responses and less multiple choice questions. They will also feature more interactive questions that will prompt students to highlight text or pinpoint answers on a graph on screen as the tests will be online. STAAR tests results historically had high stakes for students, but last year lawmakers eliminated retention requirements in several grades. Schools and districts are still largely graded on how well kids perform on the tests. Raise Your Hand Texas — an advocacy group founded in 2006 by H-E-B magnate Charles Butt — wants the state to reduce the number of STAAR tests students take and reduce their impact on academic accountability ratings. view article arw

Aubrey Brown of MacArthur High School and Isaiah Benny from Jack E. Singley Academy are among 16,000 students nationwide who have earned the honor of being named National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. To enter, a high school student must take the PSAT/NMSQT® at a local high school or approved location in the specified year of high school and meet NMSC’s published program participation requirements. A student’s scores determine whether they qualify to enter the National Merit® Scholarship Program. view article arw

Economically disadvantaged students are having a harder time catching up to pre-pandemic academic goals than their non-economically disadvantaged peers, according to data presented to the Killeen school board Tuesday night. David Osman, of Austin-based Gibson Consulting, Killeen ISD’s contracted auditor, presented an overview of his company’s learning recovery audit to the Killeen ISD board. Osman’s data showed students who were not on the district’s free or reduced lunch program outpaced the performance of their pre-pandemic peers. view article arw