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Springtown ISD Corporal Punishment Policy Called Into Question

September 24th, 2012

Springtown ISD is in the news this week after a male vice principal administered corporal punishment to a 15 year old girl, resulting in bruising and numbness.

Texas is one of 19 states that still allow corporal punishment in public schools. In Springtown, parents must give their consent before their children are spanked. But the district is now reviewing the policy and is considering changes.

I remember kids getting “swats” when I was in Junior High. I fortunately never got in bad enough trouble to have to experience corporal punishment, but it was a regular occurrence for some kids. For many of the repeat offenders though, they preferred swats to detention because they could get the punishment over with and move on.

Whether or not you support corporal punishment, you can’t support injuring a young person. I feel sorry for the young girl and her parents and hope that some good comes from this situation.

TEA Announces Layoffs

February 23rd, 2011

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced Tuesday that it would begin laying off employees due to impending budget cuts. KXAN Austin Reports:

Right now, the agency is not revealing how many positions are being cut, but TEA spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe said it will take at least a couple of days to notify everyone. Once that happens, they will release numbers which will be no sooner than Thursday.

Staff members with the human resources department are meeting with each employee one on one to break the news they no longer have a job. Employees notified Tuesday were given an hour to pack their things and leave the building.

Commissioner of Education Robert Scott issued the following statement:

“Based on the impending budget reductions, we have taken steps to reduce the size of the agency. We will continue our mission to serve our school districts and students.”

Read the full article here

The state legislature is expected to cut many grant programs that are administered by TEA. Without these program, TEA will be overstaffed.

These layoffs are more in a long line of cuts facing Texas educators in 2011. Every school district in the state is looking at ways to trim budgets, including cutting staff, increasing class size and eliminating specialties.

State Senator Kel Seliger Announces Plans to Phase Out TAKS

December 29th, 2009

At a town hall meeting in Big Spring yesterday, State Senator Kel Seliger announced plans to phase out the TAKS test in the next three years. According to the article in the Big Spring Herald:

Seliger also trumpeted plans to phase out the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) standardized test within the next three years and replace it with end-of-course exams.

“Instead of looking at how a student performs on the TAKS test, we should see how he or she performs over a two or three-year period,” he said. “We also need to make these tests consistent with what’s being taught at the individual school districts.” Read the full article here

TAKS Passing rates vs Commended rates

December 6th, 2009

Holly Hacker has a great article in the Dallas Morning News today that explains and explores TAKS Commended rates. Read the full article here.

The TAKS rating system for Schools and School districts uses passing rates as a factor when establishing ratings. However, passing the TAKS merely means a student has reached the minimal competence level in a particular subject. The “commended” designation however is given to students who have mastered a subject.

As a parent, I want to know that my children’s school is teaching them subject mastery, not just the basic competence level required to pass the TAKS. Unfortunately, commended rates are usually overlooked in favor of the more generic “Recognized” or “Exemplary” labels used to rate schools. If you look deeper however, you may discover that the Recognized school you thought was doing such a great job has only 30% of it’s students reaching commended status.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD to Appeal 2009 TAKS Rating

November 20th, 2009

Officials from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD say they will appeal their 2009 TAKS rating of “Acceptable”. The district was previously rated as “Recognized” by TEA but the rating slipped to “Acceptable” in 2009 due to dropout rates of it’s Hispanic student population. Read the full article from the Dallas Morning News here.

C-FB ISD, like many other school districts in Texas saw their overall rating slip because of a stricter definition of dropout adopted due to new federal standards. In addition to students who leave school early, the dropout definition now includes students who fail the TAKS graduation test and receive their diplomas later than their classmates. While this new definition more accurately reflects the true dropout rate in Texas, it creates a moving target for school districts and causes frustration for parents and educators. For C-FB ISD, the change caused the Hispanic dropout rate to fall from 85% to 83%. This 2% decrease was enough to drop the ISD’s overall rating from Recognized to Acceptable despite the fact that the district maintained and improved their scores in most all other academic areas of the test.

This case, like so many others underscores the need for parents to look beyond the four-tier rating system to see what’s really going on in their kids schools. On the surface, schools in Carrollton and Farmers Branch would appear to be average, but the reality is a school district that is excelling despite the shifting rules of the TAKS.

2009 TAKS Scores More Confusing Than Ever

November 4th, 2009

TEA released the 2009 TAKS scores a few days ago and thanks to the Texas Projection Measure (TPM), a complicated system has become downright obtuse. The new rule allows schools to count students as passing even if they failed the test so long as they are predicted to pass in a future year. As a result, many schools rated “exemplary” by TEA did not actually achieve the official standard of 90 percent pass rate on all TAKS tests.

The measure was an attempt by TEA to reward districts who are making progress educating poor and bilingual students. However, it has in effect expanded the 4 tier rating system (Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable, Unacceptable) to 7 (Exemplary, Exemplary TPM, Recongized, Recognized TPM, Acceptable, Acceptable TPM and Unacceptable).

Finding out if your school or district’s accountability rating benefited from the TPM can be difficult. Parents must navigate the TEA website until they find the individual scores for the school in question and then analyze the passing percentages with and without the TPM to see if the rating is actual or projected.

The TAKS was created as a statewide measuring stick to hold schools accountable for educating young Texans. With the latest scoring changes, TEA has obfuscated the true scores of the test. When will we learn that this one-size-fits-all test is doing nothing to improve education in Texas?

Waco ISD Benefits From New TAKS Projection Measure

October 14th, 2009

When TAKS school ratings are released at the end of July, Waco ISD expects to have 3 schools rated Exemplary and 10 more rated Recognized. Read the full article from the Waco Tribune-Herald here.

The improved ratings are partly due to the new Texas Projection Measure which looks at students’ progress and determines whether or not they are likely to pass the TAKS in future years. If they are on a trajectory to pass in the future, the student is counted as passing on the current test even if they’re scores were not sufficient to pass.

The controversial change has helped many districts to improve school ratings. Critics claim that the measure produces inaccurate results since ratings are not adjusted based on whether or not students projected to pass in the future actually pass.

Coahoma ISD to Implement TAKS Incentive Plan for Students

September 27th, 2009

Officials from Coahoma Independent School District announced today a student TAKS performance incentive plan. Read the full article from KOSA CBS 7 here.

The plan will give students who perform well on the TAKS up to 10 extra days off school. Other students who do not perform as well on the test will benefit from smaller class sizes and more one-on-one attention from teachers.

The district is following the lead of many other districts across Texas who have implemented similar incentives for high performing students.

Lang Middle School Investigation Expands to Seventh Grade

September 9th, 2009

CBX 11 TV in Dallas reports that the investigation into 8th grade math TAKS score irregularities at Lang Middle School in Dallas ISD has expanded to include the 7th grade reading exam scores.  The report states:

“State education officials say they have now found indications of cheating in the results of the reading TAKS taken by Lang seventh graders in April.” Read the full report here

Fortunately for the students, passing the 7th grade reading TAKS is not a requirement for promotion to the 8th grade and therefore no students will be required to retake the exam. However, the 8th grade students who retook the math TAKS and failed are currently waiting for a review board to determine if their promotions to 9th grade will stand or if they will be forced to remain in 8th grade.

2009 School Year Begins

August 23rd, 2009

All across Texas, students are returning to school on Monday August 24. In about eight months, most of those students will be taking the TAKS test to determine if they can graduate or be promoted. For many students, passing the test is easy. But many others will struggle to achieve the scores they need to progress in school.

Good luck to all Texas students, teachers and administrators. Here’s hoping that 2009 is a great year for Texas education!