Claycomb Associates, Architects

As Houston Independent School District fights for its independence, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel gave little indication Thursday of whether he would tap the brakes on the state’s plans to strip power from the elected trustees and install a new governing board.  However, Yeakel complimented the district on a “well-presented” case and said he plans to rule quickly on HISD’s request for a preliminary injunction. An injunction would stop the state from making moves to upend management at the state’s largest school district until the court hears and decides the full case. view article arw

In a last-ditch effort to prevent a state takeover, lawyers for Houston Independent School District implored a federal judge Thursday to stop Texas education officials from replacing the district's elected board until he rules on the merits of their lawsuit challenging the action.  Houston ISD lawyers told U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel that Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath exceeded his authority at nearly every step as he moved to appoint a board of managers to lead Houston ISD, a decision they said would disenfranchise voters of color. view article arw

Two students in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s (PSJA ISD) Early College Program have been accepted to two of the country’s most prestigious universities with full-ride scholarships. Senior Mariano Salcedo from PSJA Southwest Early College High School was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Senior Melanny Garcia from PSJA North Early College High School was accepted to Stanford University. Both students will receive  full-ride QuestBridge National College Match Scholarships. view article arw

Educators and parents are planning to rally at Houston ISD headquarters Thursday to demonstrate that they are against the state takeover of houston schools. The Houston Federation of Teachers has also filed a lawsuit against the proposed takeover. The union said the rally will be the first hearing of that federal lawsuit they filed against the takeover. In a town hall meeting Tuesday, those in view article arw

I was working with some new assistant principals today as they were dealing with a fairly cut and dried student issue.  Yet, they were bending themselves into pretzels trying to devise a solution.  After a while, I stepped in and said, “What’s the big deal? You do this thing, because it’s best for the students. Let’s move on.” view article arw

During Monday’s joint meeting with the City Council, the Denton school district took a step in the right direction by proposing the addition of three more school resource officers to boost security at its largest high schools. The district also did not go far enough. If approved by the City Council, the additional officers will be assigned to Denton, Guyer and Ryan high schools, bringing each campus’s total to two full-time officers. With the hires, the district would have at least one officer in each of its four high schools and eight middle schools, with the Denton Police Department providing the officers for the three high schools and three middle schools within the city limits. The school district contracts with neighboring police departments for schools outside the city limits. view article arw

More Katy Independent School District students are enrolling in advanced placement courses than previous years, and they are getting higher scores. Now, the College Board is honoring the Katy school district for those accomplishments.  Katy ISD is one of only 250 school districts in the U.S. and Canada that's been placed on the 2019 College Board AP District Honor Roll for increasing Advanced Placement course participation and scores. Katy ISD is one of only 18 districts in Texas to earn this distinction. view article arw

Denison is facing an increase in housing permits that have brought crowding to the Denison Independent School District. The city has projected there to be 180 available lots for housing developments in the Hyde Park Elementary School attendance zone with 637 estimated potential future lots in the same district. Lamar Elementary School attendance zone showed 21 available lots, 56 in Mayes Elementary School’s zone and six in Terrell Elementary  view article arw

As part of recently enacted legislation Little Elm ISD was required to put a call out for pre-kindergarten partnerships. But it wasn’t required to enter into one. view article arw

MIDLAND, Tx. (KOSA) - The commissioner of the Texas Education Agency visited one West Texas school on Wednesday morning.  The commissioner of the Texas Education Agency visited one West Texas school on Wednesday morning.  Members from the TEA were given a tour and got to see the work teachers and staff have been putting in to improve scores at Bush Elementary School in the Tall City.  The TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said, Bush Elementary, which is run by Midland ISD, saw improvement in their scores.  He said the school rose from a "C" rating to 88%, which is a 'B' rating.  “Midland is an example of a school district that is focused on not doing business as usual. They recognize we have a moral duty to every single one of our children to help them maximize their God given potential,” said Morath. view article arw

This year, a community-based accountability system (CBAS) is being piloted at Splendora ISD. One of the seven pillars in the CBAS is that the District is focusing on “Engaged, Well-Rounded Students.” Last month, we focused on the key question of how students act nobly. The second key question asked was, “To what degree do students utilize opportunities provided by the district to take initiative and advance personal growth?” view article arw

As DeSoto ISD continues its focus on improving the quality of its academic programs through its FOCUS Priorities, the district recently announced the adoption of the nationally recognized Gomez and Gomez instructional framework to support the teaching of English and Spanish in the district’s Bilingual Education program. The learning system is aimed at enhancing the acquisition of the English Language while ensuring proficiency and master of content in the native language. With the implementation of this model, DeSoto ISD Bilingual Department Supervisor Dr. Helena Castanon Vargas believes that the DeSoto Independent School District is now better positioned to provide an equitable and relevant education to all students. view article arw

A state-ordered study of Texas’ primary public education standardized tests, known as STAAR, has found that nearly all reading and writing passages used on the 2019 exams were appropriately difficult for children in elementary and middle school, rebutting claims by leading educators that some texts have been too challenging to accurately measure students’ knowledge. In a study released this week by The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, housed at the University of Texas at Austin, researchers determined that up to 97 percent of reading and writing passages used on STAAR met their criteria for classifying as a grade-level appropriate text. State lawmakers ordered the study earlier this year after some educators, including those affiliated with an organization representing 40 of Texas’ largest school districts, argued STAAR passages were not grade-level appropriate. view article arw

The Midway Independent School District has expanded its School Safety and Security Committee as a result of Senate Bill 11, and are looking to make their schools even safer. The Senate Bill forced schools in Texas to be more proactive in their safety measures and to include more representatives in their safety committees. In the last year, Midway ISD has added representatives from the Waco PD, the FBI, McLennan Emergency Management, the superintendent and a parent and teacher to the committee. view article arw

Playing hooky? Cutting class? The parents of Sherman students will be made fully aware. Trying to boost attendance and keep kids in the classroom, the Sherman Independent School District is rolling out a daily attendance call to parents of offenders. "To inform them that their child has missed instructional time," explained Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tamy Smalskas. "Whether it's missed a class period, whether it's missed a part of the day, or the student was late to class or late in the morning." view article arw

This fall, the Trump administration announced it's lowering the annual cap on the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. That change is affecting how Fort Worth Independent School District is teaching some of its newcomers. Sharon Darnell is a specialized English as a Second Language teacher in the Fort Worth ISD. She spends most of the school day going from class to class.  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

A lready troubled by her 4th grade students' low reading levels, San Antonio-area teacher Melody Fernandez entered "survival mode" when she was moved down to 1st grade—and discovered the full scope of what she and many of her elementary colleagues were not prepared to teach.  She had learned a lot in her preparation about reading theories, but no specific protocols for teaching the subject. So she did what many teachers new to a grade do. She used the methods more seasoned colleagues told her to use, and the curriculum on hand, which relied on leveled picture books with easily memorized, repetitive sentence structures. view article arw

Why is claiming credit so confusing?

December 0408:25 AM

“Take all the AP classes,” they said. “You’ll get out of college in like two years,” they said. Yet, for all the hype about AP classes in high school, I never learned what it takes to use that credit to get ahead in college. Just taking the class and the AP test on three hours of sleep and four cups of iced coffee isn’t enough — you then have to go through the pricey and confusing process of claiming credit when you get to UT in order for the hard work to count. Academic advisers can help students navigate this complicated process, but sometimes it’s rendered even more confusing due to the differing advice students receive. To alleviate the stress of claiming credit, UT needs to standardize the recommendations students get from advisers about this process.  view article arw

Questions about the reading and writing tests arose after some education advocates pointed to studies showing passages were written above elementary and middle schoolers' grade levels.  Were the reading and writing passages on standardized tests that Texas elementary and middle school students took this spring too challenging for their grade levels? view article arw

Top LYS Tweets – December 2, 2019

December 0308:30 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. 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

Clear Creek ISD officials are looking for parents and other community members to help develop the district's five-year strategic plan. The district wants more than 100 volunteers in January to help develop action plans to support the 2020-25 plan's new strategies, including creating safe and nurturing environments, promoting student achievement and more, according to a press release.   view article arw

It was 2002, and then-Mayor Ed Garza and I were flying to Mexico City to bid on the 2007 Pan American Games, but instead of sports, our conversation was about education – more specifically, a topic that remains relevant in local public education today: school district consolidation. At that time, Garza was laser-focused on Southside development. But no matter how much infrastructure development he stimulated, families were still moving away from the older and Southside districts to find better schools for their children.  view article arw

New data released by the Round Rock school district this month show black and special education students continue to be disciplined at a higher rate than other student groups as overall discipline rates remain low. The disciplinary rate numbers presented earlier this month to the school board showed that as of Nov. 4, 0.8% of the entire student body has received in-school suspension, 0.4% were given out-of-school suspension, and 0.4% were removed from their school and put into an alternative school program. view article arw

Every year, the organization Children at Risk ranks and grades Texas public schools to help parents, educators and community members understand how schools in their community are performing. Based on student achievement data from the 2018-19 school year, Garland ISD can once again boast some of the top ranked schools in the state. Kimberlin and Walnut Glen Academies for Excellence are among the top 10 elementary schools in North Texas. Additionally, out of more than 4,500 elementary schools ranked throughout the state, Kimberlin and Walnut Glen came in at 23 and 24, respectively. view article arw

Former Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes said that a school district in Texas is requiring "teaching kids how to have anal sex," after the Austin school district board voted to adopt new sex education curriculum for elementary and middle school students. In an Oct. 29  post on his website, Starnes described the new curriculum and relied on information from Texas Values, a conservative organization that opposed the new instruction materials.   view article arw

South San Antonio ISD is in turmoil. The district’s students are protesting for mental health services. The superintendent resigned weeks into the school year. And three board members just up and quit. When superintendent, Alexandro Flores took a buyout in September, he became the district’s sixth former superintendent in eight years.  view article arw

No school today for Goliad ISD students and staff! view article arw

The Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to close Smylie Wilson Middle School, and open it as the district’s first project-based learning STEAM magnet school. The new magnet school is scheduled to open next school year. The changes are in response to Smylie Wilson’s recent academic performances. Smylie Wilson received an F rating the past two years under the Texas Education Agency’s annual A-F rating. Had those A-F ratings been around longer, Smylie Wilson would have received an F rating the previous four years. view article arw

The Greenville Independent School District’s Board of Trustees received some encouraging news Tuesday at its meeting, when members heard that the district had earned a “superior” rating from the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). The TEA’s assessment was especially welcome to the trustees in light of the $3.8 million shortfall left over from 2016-17, which resulted in no teachers receiving raises in 2017-18 and eventually prompted a forensic audit that same year. Then, going into 2018-19, multiple cuts were made to popular programs – such as German – in an effort to get the district’s finances back in order. view article arw

Thursday, the Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees will vote to turn Smylie Wilson Middle School into a magnet school. Superintendent Dr. Kathy Rollo said the new school would not have an attendance zone, so students from all over the district would be eligible to apply. view article arw

When Yasmine Smith was in elementary school, her teachers planned to refer her to the special education coordinator. Her mother fought – against much resistance from leaders at the school and at the district – to instead have her tested for gifted and talented services. She suspected the work being presented to her daughter was not too challenging, but rather not challenging enough, leading to Yasmine's boredom and frustration in class. Yasmine's mother was right. Smith excelled in the gifted and talented program and went on to graduate from UT Law. Had it not been for what she describes as "pure luck," she believes the low expectations projected onto her by educators could have led to a dramatically different outcome. view article arw

The city is opening a second high school to a criminal justice pipeline that puts students on track to work as police officers in Dallas. The program, started at Oak Cliff’s Carter High School in 2015, aims to equip the short-staffed Dallas PD with more homegrown talent while diversifying the ranks. As Carter’s first cohort of criminal justice students prepares to graduate after next school year, the program will now be available at Bryan Adams High School in Far East Dallas. At an event Tuesday afternoon, DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said Mayor Eric Johnson pushed for the expansion shortly after taking office. “It was an easy sell, because we believe in this,” Hinojosa said. “There are great careers in law enforcement.” view article arw

Give schools an honest grade. That's the message to school critics from school superintendents who recently published an infographic urging the public to take a closer look at the real story about school performance. It's tempting to believe that schools were once better and that students used to learn more. But the data tell a different story, say leaders of the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League, authors of the infographic. Only about 50% of young Americans had a high school diploma in 1970. The figure stands at nearly 90% today. Test results show that all major ethnic groups—African-American, Hispanic, and White— are now scoring higher on achievement tests of reading and mathematics at ages 9, 13, and 17 than they were in the early 1970s. view article arw