Top Texas lawmakers this year are proposing allocating billions of more dollars for public schools, but a portion of those dollars will likely have strings attached. And some education advocates worry the strings will lead to an even greater emphasis being placed on standardized tests in the state.  In various appearances at press conferences and speeches in Austin last week, the state's top Republican leaders signaled their support for giving more money to school districts that show higher performance or agree to offer specific programs such as merit pay for teachers. One of their main messages: Schools do need more money, but they have to show they know how to use it wisely. view article arw

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD) was presented with a Jobs and Education for Texas (JET) Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) at the City of Pharr’s State of the City Address held at the Pharr Events Center on Thursday, Jan. 17. To date, PSJA ISD has been awarded a total of $834,583 in TWC Jet grants during the last three consecutive years, making it the only school district in Texas to do so. Since JET grants first became available to independent school districts entered into partnerships with higher education institutions in 2016, PSJA ISD has been the only public school district awarded grants each year to expand dual credit career and technical educational opportunities with its long-time partner South Texas College. view article arw

No more STAAR exams. That’s what one Texas lawmaker is proposing in his bill to eliminate high-stakes testing. For years, STAAR Testing has been the primary indicator of student success, playing a pivotal role in deciding whether kids are promoted to the next grade or able to graduate from high school. view article arw

A Texas state representative has filed a bill to eliminate the STAAR test. Rep. Brooks Landgraf of Odessa authored House Bill 736 in an attempt to effectively repeal the use of the STAAR test. view article arw

A READER ASKS… SENTENCE STEMS

January 1808:30 AM
 

Good question.  A good critical writing stem meets two criteria: 1. The sentence stem requires the writer to make a connection between the sentence subject and something else. For example: prior knowledge, a past experience, a prediction, another setting, etc.  2. The sentence stem requires the writer to think and operate at a level of rigor that is higher than comprehension. If the sentence stem does the above two things, you are on the right track!  view article arw

According to a new report, the Waco Independent School District has reduced the amount of schools failing to meet state standards from six to one. The Texas Academic Performance Report measures the sucess of Texas school districts. In 2018, Waco ISD saw several schools needing improvement or face closure. view article arw

BBQ is just about as Texas as you can get. High school students at Hendrickson High of Pflugerville ISD have qualified for the Texas High School BBQ Championship in May. It's common to see pits smoking outside the ag department on campus. Senior Tyler Wood is the veteran of this state qualifying cooking team, "BBQ is a Texas tradition. It's something we've always had, and something that we will always have. It's something I grew up on and I just enjoy it," he said. Audrey Harris joined the BBQ group this year. All she's learned here, helps her outside of school, "Before I just watched but now I am actually helping get in there, learn new things from my father also," she said. view article arw

Kindergarten through 12th-grade education has to do a better job of ensuring that Texas reaches its goal of having at least 60 percent of its residents 25 to 34 earn a certificate or degree by 2020, Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes said in a media teleconference Wednesday. Under the completion goal of 60x30TX, the target for the percentage of students who enroll in higher education directly from high school is 65 percent by 2030. The state is currently at 52.3 percent, a slight increase after a two-year decline, Paredes said. The 2020 target is 58 percent and the 2025 target is 61 percent. view article arw

The Beaumont school board approved to create a partnership with charter operators to run three schools in danger of closing due to 'low performance'. The school district had over 30 programs express interest in taking over Fehl-Price elementary, Jones-Clark Elementary and Smith Middle School. view article arw

In 2017-2018, the Waco Independent School District reduced the number of schools failing to meet state standards from six to one. Now, the Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) for 2017-2018 is providing a more detailed look at the data behind this change as well as how the district compares to the rest of the state. view article arw

Home health, nursing and renewable energy jobs top the list of fastest-growing jobs between now and 2023, according to a study by CareerBuilder.  Considering North Texas is home to many Fortune 500 companies like Exxon, McKesson and AT&T, "it is clear there will be a plethora of opportunity for job seekers with varied backgrounds and experience over the next five years, especially as high growth is predicted in health care, tech, manufacturing, and social and community roles," said CareerBuilder chief people officer Michelle Armer. view article arw

Hawkins Elementary School has been nominated as a national blue ribbon school for its work to close student achievement gaps. The Texas Education Agency announced the nomination of 26 Texas public schools for national 2019 Blue Ribbon Schools recognition on Wednesday. Founded in 1982, Blue Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education program that recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where exemplary progress has been made toward closing achievement gaps among subpopulations while also maintaining high achievement levels among all students. The following schools in Texas have been nominated: view article arw

Back when I was a principal, the secret to school success was to get most of the teachers teaching like I taught. Not bragging, in my era, I was a decent teacher (as is the case with most principals).  But I haven’t been a classroom teacher for over 20 years. Any teacher who today mimicked my practice from back then, should be fired (seriously). view article arw

No, Pre-K 4 SA is not a “universal” preschool program for the city’s 4-year-olds.  Only about 8 percent of San Antonio’s 25,000 4-year-olds are enrolled in Pre-K 4 SA, the program championed by then-mayor Julián Castro. But you might not realize that when digesting news reports this week about Castro’s presidential campaign. view article arw

The Madisonville CISD school board carried a motion to become a district of innovation at the monthly board meeting for January on Monday. The board first approved a resolution to consider innovation status during their meeting for October and the move should exempt them from certain Texas Education Agency stipulations and allow them to operate independently in a number of areas. One of the main things mentioned when considering the plan’s advantages at the outset was the hiring of new teachers. The board pointed out that it is very difficult to hire qualified educators in certain special fields. This could allow them to bring in industry experts to help in those fields. It would also allow them to be more flexible on scheduling, which is why many districts across the state have already opted to become districts of innovation. view article arw

The principals of four Houston ISD schools in danger of triggering major state sanctions this year are encouraged by progress at their campuses, but district administrators say it’s too early to predict whether the schools will stave off punishment by meeting academic standards. view article arw

Klein ISD kicked off a Community Conversations series led by Superintendent Bret Champion last September to foster dialogue between stakeholders in the community and the school district and to provide an opportunity for citizens to express concerns and ask questions. The initiative tallied 89 conversations at different locations by December, including schools, apartments, restaurants and residents’ homes, Champion said at the Jan. 14 board of trustees meeting. view article arw

To help accomplish one of his goals of opening the lines of communication and building bridges, the new school superintendent has started what may become a new tradition of recapping the past year in Region 14. Superintendent Joseph Olzacki recently issued a “Year In Review” newsletter, highlighting the many changes and accomplishments in […] view article arw

While most school districts require students to attend the campus closest to where they live, Garland ISD is a Choice of School district, which means families have the opportunity to truly customize their child’s education by choosing to attend any campus in the district. For parents and prospective parents, it’s about that time of year to start making their selections. According to GISD, there are two selection periods every year with the first starting this week. Families with children currently in kindergarten through 11th grade can make their top three campus selections through Feb. 12. view article arw

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR

January 1608:30 AM
 

I was talking to a teacher about the need to embed high-yield instructional practice, with increasing frequency and quality, in our instructional delivery.  view article arw

EPISD's final meeting on Tuesday night went over the possible schools that are up for closure like Beall Elementary School. Parents, on the other hand, are fighting to keep the school standing. "Right now we need to convince the majority of our community that maintaining Beall, is of the upmost importance of this process and that it is an issue of us maintaining a stable community and being able to deal with the educational needs of our community and the best interest of our children," Parent Hilda Villegas told KTSM.   view article arw

January is School Board Recognition Month, and Kerrville ISD will join the Texas Association of School Boards and other districts across the state to honor the countless contributions of these locally elected advocates for Texas schoolchildren and public schools. view article arw

If you have a child in Kindergarten or First Grade, students who may have difficulty breaking words into smaller parts like “baseball” or “napkin” are likely to be screened for dyslexia before the end of the school year.  This is one of the three changes that went into effect for Overton ISD. view article arw

Burton ISD trustees voted unanimously to approve the 2017-18 audit report here Monday. Alan Younts, independent internal audit contractor for Belt Harris Pechacek, presented the audit report to the board. view article arw

White Oak ISD trustees learned Monday that one of their campuses is among some 200 in the U.S. and Canada to have earned recognition as a Model Professional Learning Community at Work. The model learning community designation by Solution Tree, a professional development company for kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and administrators, was announced Monday for White Oak Primary School. view article arw

Frisco ISD remains one of the fastest growing school districts in Texas with new enrollment numbers showing continued growth. The district has added more than 1,900 students since this time last year, according to figures presented during FISD board of trustees’ first meeting of the new year on Jan. 14. Todd Fouche, deputy superintendent of business and operations, provided the latest figures to the board. From Dec. 10-Jan. 14, the district added 243 students with 186 of those being elementary students. Since Labor Day, the district has added 740 students; 582 of those were elementary students. view article arw

Richardson ISD enrolled 205 fewer students in school year 2018-19, but a demographer’s report presented Jan. 14 shows that trend will reverse over the next half decade. Today, roughly 39,109 students attend RISD schools. In five years that number is expected to grow by 1,980 students, or 5.1 percent, according to the district’s demographer Bob Templeton of Templeton Demographics. Factors consistent across North Texas are behind the projected increase, such as a strong housing market and historically low unemployment rates, Templeton said. view article arw

Alamo Colleges and city, county, and business leaders are laying plans for a program that would provide free community college tuition to all seniors graduating from Bexar County high schools.  The program would be a game-changer in boosting education attainment, creating a more attractive workforce for San Antonio, and fighting generational poverty, Alamo Colleges Chancellor Mike Flores said. As many as 16,000 graduating seniors from about 45 high schools eventually could be eligible. view article arw

Here’s something to think about as you are building the district calendar for next year. One reason why anti-public school politicians are able to erode public confidence in our public schools is because most of our citizenry have no meaningful interactions with public schools. If you have no kids or grown kids then public schools are just one more taxing entity.  view article arw

Socorro Independent School District administrators will be presenting at a congressional briefing in Washington D.C. on a unique partnership between the district’s Community Education and Career and Technical Education departments that is garnering more success and opportunities for adult students and the local workforce. The pioneering initiative is being showcased as a national model and was recently featured in a National Skills Coalition briefing titled “Better Together: How adult education/CTE collaborations benefit workers and business.” view article arw

Lufkin ISD hosts Soul to Soul

January 1508:25 AM
 

Lufkin ISD and several community partners hosted a Soul to Soul event Monday evening at the high school as an initiative for the success of African-American students. “The mission of Soul to Soul is to enlighten, enhance, empower and equip African-American students with the tools necessary for success,” LISD teacher David Washington said. view article arw

Houston Independent School District's leaders held a unique meeting to talk about major challenges they have recently faced. HISD, Texas' largest school district, discussed a decline in student enrollment and a major budget deficit. The district is at risk to face a state takeover if certain schools within the district can't meet performance standards. view article arw

With each school year and each round of students, participation in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program is making the community a better place and students at Hutchinson Middle School better citizens of the world. “Hutchinson Middle School is the only Middle Years program in West Texas,” Community Project Coordinator Julio Hernandez said. “What the program does for the students is it allows students to work independently and collaboratively to be a bigger part of the community. It also challenges students to work and think of global issues and ways they can contribute and help out.” view article arw

There are hundreds of schools in the area, impacting thousands of students and everyone has a story to tell. And in the case of Alamo Heights I-S-D, most of the story is told in Spanish. First grade can be a bit overwhelming. New school, new friends, new beginnings. And for some students in the Alamo Heights ISD, it's also about a new language. view article arw

Steve Garlock looks at the financial crisis facing the Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District and knows the tough decisions need to be made. That doesn’t make the reality any easier. “I feel heartache,” said Garlock, who is the school board of trustee president. “We are talking about people you see at the post office. You see their kids. It isn’t going to be easy.” The board will meet in regular session on Monday, Jan. 14 (see link to left). Item 8 will address that matter: view article arw