Spotlight Texas

Love Or Hate Them, New A-F Letter Grades for Texas Schools Are Here to Stay, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Says

Education leaders across Texas have called a new letter grading system for schools and districts lots of things: unfair, misleading, morale-crushing, and in need of repeal.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called it something else Wednesday: here to stay.

Texas Educators Criticize Discrepancies Between New A-F And Past Ratings

Kevin Houchin saw the praise roll in for McGregor Independent School District when the Central Texas district's high school received top marks from the state in 2016 for high academic achievement and preparing students for college.

So the superintendent was surprised to see an F grade on the district's report card this month.

Texas Nominated 26 Schools For A National Blue Ribbon - But Gave Many Of Them C's And D's

Hartman Elementary School in Wylie will be decked out with ribbons and balloons Friday to celebrate a big achievement: It's been nominated for a National Blue Ribbon award, given each year to high-performing schools.

This would be the same Hartman Elementary that got two A's, one C and one D last week under a new state plan for grading campuses.

Even High-Performing Schools Get D's And F's In Texas' New Grading System

Schools in poor neighborhoods overwhelmingly received the worst grades under Texas' new rating system -- but even typically high-performing districts got C’s and D’s, according to scores that will be released Friday.

The “what if” grades show how schools and districts could fare in the new A-F system, which won’t take effect until 2018.

HISD Students To Benefit From New Arts Grant

A new grant from the National Endowment for the Arts is giving students in some Houston public schools a chance to experience the arts in all forms. “From in-school residencies that are very well focused on arts integration, to field trip opportunities, to after-school programs, and also performances on campus,” explains Deborah Lugo, the Director of the Arts Access Initiative. The organization just received $100,000 from the NEA.

Following North Carolina's Lead, Texas GOP Unveil So-Called 'Bathroom Bill'

After months of sparring over whether transgender Texans should be allowed to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday officially set the legislative stage for the debate.

Following North Carolina’s lead, Texas Republicans announced Senate Bill 6, which would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and universities based on “biological sex” and would preempt local nondiscrimination ordinances that extend protections to transgender people.

School Finance, Testing Fiasco Topped 2016 Education News

A new Texas education commissioner vowed to crack down on district and campus accountability, a drawn-out court case over school finance ended and federal officials began investigating an alleged cap on special education services in Texas school districts - those are among the highlights of the year 2016 in Texas public education.

Seven Schools Spotlighted in TEA Best Practice Case Studies

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has spotlighted seven campuses across the state as part of a best practices case studies project. The TEA best practice studies project highlights how each campus, designated by TEA as High Performing and High Progress Title I Reward Schools, excels in critical areas such as academic performance, teacher quality, school climate and leadership effectiveness.

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced earlier year that seven campuses would be part of a project highlighting successful classroom efforts in schools with a high percentage of students from economically disadvantaged families and high mobility rates.

TEA Releases Public's Answers to Survey On Education Policy

The Texas Education Agency released the results of a public survey intended to help shape what states’ education policy will look like under Every Student Succeeds Act.

President Barack Obama signed the ESSA in 2015, replacing No Child Left Behind and giving back decision making power over K-12 public education to the states. Each state is required to come up with a strategic vision and plan of action and the survey was the first step to develop this vision.

Bills Target High Rates of Texas Schoolchildren Lacking Vaccinations

Among the state's most populous counties, Travis County has the highest percentage of schoolchildren who are exempted from vaccinations for nonmedical reasons, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Immunization Partnership, an Austin-based nonprofit that promotes vaccinations, reported that in the 2015-16 school year, 3,844 kindergarten through 12th-grade students in Travis County, or roughly 2.3 percent of students, filed nonmedical exemptions to vaccinations that help prevent such diseases as polio, hepatitis, meningitis, mumps, measles and rubella. Hays and Williamson counties are third and fifth on the list, respectively.

Pastors for Texas Children Become a Rising Voice Against School Vouchers

“We’ve got a God-given responsibility to maintain and keep this public trust, to protect public schools,” Rev. Charles Foster Johnson bellowed at several dozen pastors, snapping them to attention as they ate breakfast.

Johnson, 59, is the Fort Worth-based executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, a network of about 2,000 church leaders around the state who work to support pubic schools.

Proposed Bill Would Expand Parents’ Rights, But Critics Say It Goes Too Far

A proposed bill from a Tarrant County lawmaker is causing a stir in education circles. Texas Sen. Konni Burton said the bill is intended to bolster a parent’s right to information about his or her child. But critics say it’s vaguely worded, and some worry it could put LGBT kids at risk.






Classroom Tools

Obama's Impact On America's Schools

When President Obama took office in January 2009, the country was on edge, the economy in free-fall. The federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, was also in need of an update after earning the ire of teachers, parents and politicians alike. In short, there was much to do.

In time, that update would come, but President Obama's education legacy begins, oddly enough, with his plan to bolster the faltering economy.

Promoting Geography Awareness

I’m not usually one to brag, but one of my proudest accomplishments in life is winning the National Geographic Bee at my school as an eighth grader. Although I may have peaked early, winning the bee set this once geography obsessed, nerdy middle schooler on the path to becoming an even nerdier geography obsessed adult. This lifelong passion is the reason I try to weave a range of geography themed lessons and activities into my classes.

TASA Midwinter Conference: Jan. 29 - Feb. 1

The TASA Midwinter Conference has become the most popular conference of the year for Texas school leaders because it provides such a valuable opportunity to come together to discuss and share innovative practices, network with peers, address the administrative issues administrators face every day, and gain fresh insights. We hope you and members of your leadership team will join us in Austin January 29-February 1, 2017.

Few Women Run the Nation's School Districts. Why?

Nearly a decade after she was hired as the first woman to run the Council Bluffs, Iowa, school district, Mary Martha Bruckner is often one of the only women in the room.

That was the case in October when about two dozen superintendents and finance officers from Iowa’s urban school systems met to set their legislative agenda for the coming year.

Resources for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983, the holiday has provided an opportunity for Americans to honor and learn from the iconic figure. Yet teaching about King’s cultural legacy shouldn’t be limited to January and February. That legacy should be celebrated and analyzed in classrooms throughout the year. And at this moment in American history, King’s philosophy of nonviolence can help bring balance to classroom discussions.

Basic School Finance Webinar 2017

Basic School Finance meets once a month for six months beginning in January and concluding in June. The class follows the flow of the current year Summary of Finance (SOF) spreadsheet. Subjects are timely and handled in depth. The webinars are interactive, have plenty of opportunities for participants to ask questions and delve deeper into subjects that they may need help on.

Teachers Are Stressed, And That Should Stress Us All

We all experience stress at work, no matter the job. But for teachers, the work seems to be getting harder and the stress harder to shake.

10 Inspirational Quotes for Educators

Find inspiration and wisdom for the new school year in these quotes about education and learning.

Upcoming: The 10th Annual Texas STEM Conference

The Texas STEM Coalition invites you to Dallas to be a part of this engaging conference. Join over 1,000 STEM educators from across the state and participate in learning through the following strands: STEM Leadership, STEM Best Practices, STEM Technologies and Successful Partnerships.

4 Truths About Teaching English Language Learners

The majority of communities in the United States have English language learners (ELLs) and consequently, the great majority of teachers are engaged in identifying how to serve this group of students. Here are a few highlights of what I’ve learned ELLs really need from more than 20 years of working closely with them in public schools.

Louisa May Alcott: The Little Women Who Could!

A picture from "Little Women"; cc WikipediaThe name Louisa May Alcott sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

In addition to numerous short story collections and novels, Alcott is the author of a famous classic that is probably sitting on your shelves right now: Little Women.

Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program

The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow (GTF) program is a professional development opportunity made possible by a partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Education. The program is named in honor of Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Chairman Emeritus National Geographic Society and Education Foundation Board.

6 Potential Brain Benefits Of Bilingual Education

Brains, brains, brains. One thing we've learned at NPR Ed is that people are fascinated by brain research. And yet it can be hard to point to places where our education system is really making use of the latest neuroscience findings.

But there is one happy nexus where research is meeting practice: bilingual education. "In the last 20 years or so, there's been a virtual explosion of research on bilingualism," says Judith Kroll, a professor at the University of California, Riverside.

Employee Social Media Policy Receives Approval in Austin Public Schools

This goes without saying: Be careful with what you post.

The Austin Public Schools board approved a social media policy for its employees on Monday night, expressing that those who work for the district must present themselves professionally whether at school or on social media sites.




Rare Ruby Seadragon Caught on Video for First Time

In a gem of a find, scientists have filmed the ruby seadragon, a brilliantly colored fish related to seahorses, in the wild for the first time.

Nintendo Switch Off to Wobbly Start as Pricing, Timing Unveiled

Nintendo Co.’s new Switch gaming console is off to an underwhelming start.

The new machine, a tablet-sized device with wireless controllers that can be used anywhere but also connects to TVs, will go on sale March 3 at a price of $300, with a brand-new Zelda game as its launch title. None of that, however, was enough to convince investors that it will be a big moneymaker for the Kyoto-based company, whose shares fell 5.8 percent to 23,750 yen after Nintendo executives held a presentation in Tokyo on Friday.

Watch This Father And Son Start Their Day Together With A Positive Morning Affirmation Pledge

Many students recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning as soon as they get to school. One second-grader, Joshua Williams, begins his day with a pledge of allegiance to himself. "It just lays the foundation and the expectations for what he is to do and become," Joshua's father, Jenabu Williams, told A Plus.

Here's How You Defrost Your Windscreen In Super Fast Time

I watched by housemate defrosting his car windscreen using his hands for a good 10 minutes this morning out of my living room window, and boy did he not look to be having fun.

I mean I'm usually a fan of a bit of schadenfreude, but even I felt sorry for the guy. Why didn't he just get one of those scrapers out?

29 Times a Student's Test Answer Made Us LOL

Chris Pratt Pretended To Mess Up a Magic Trick And Left Jennifer Lawrence Dumbfounded

Chris Pratt appeared on BBC1’s Graham Norton Show with his Passengers co-star Jennifer Lawrence.

Norton handed Pratt a set of cards and asked him to do some magic.

What a Donkey Knows About Autism

Hal Walter uses burro racing to help his son with autism.

A Forgotten Adventure With a Telepathic Tribe

Near the top of a mountain in the Peruvian Andes is a small lake named Laguna McIntyre. This is the source of the Amazon River, so named for the National Geographic photographer, writer, and prolific explorer who made the discovery. “Amazing is the word heard most often at National Geographic headquarters to describe Loren McIntyre, who surmounts all obstacles with ease,” read a 1987 editor’s note marking his 70th birthday.

Design Your Own Pop-Up Hotel and Sleep Literally Anywhere in the World

For your next vacation, forget about taking inspiration from Instagram. You’re going to go where nobody has been before, on a trip that nobody has ever taken—and that nobody after you will ever take again.

The Fight to Save the Amazon

Eat Like a King With Poor Man's Filet Mignon

Do you have a rich man’s taste and a poor man’s wallet? Join the club! But being pocket-poor doesn’t mean your taste buds need to suffer when there’s steak to be had. Feast your eyes on the Poor Man’s Fillet Mignon.

No, this is no magic trick, and you won’t be shelling out large quantities of cash to sample a succulent piece of steak that’s beyond your price point. You’ll simply be trying a tip from Jack Scalfani of the Cooking With Jack Show that allows the average Joe (not Jack) to eat like a king, turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse…or a cheaper cut of beef into a melt-in-your mouth meal.

Best Nature Trails

Best trips 2017.

Ed Sheeran Sang For This Young Fan In The Hospital And Put A Huge Smile On Her Face

Ed Sheeran just made one of his biggest fans very happy.

The singer surprised 9-year-old Melody Driscoll last week by visiting her in the hospital, where she has spent 80 percent of her life undergoing more than 40 operations. Melody has a rare neurological disorder called Rett syndrome, and she cannot walk or talk. Doctors thought she wouldn't live past age 4, but she beat the odds.




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