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Potential Delay in TAKS Results

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

Below is information I received from Executive Director: Jim Parsons; Coordinator of Student Assessment

On Sunday evening, Jim Parsons spoke to a TEA student assessment staffer to confirm a fear he had about a side-effect of the H1N1 flu school closures. The delays in testing and/or shipping completed documents caused by flooding or school closures will probably cause a delay in everyone receiving test results.  In other words, even though Humble ISD didn’t close any schools until after testing was completed, and we did everything on schedule, our results will be delayed, too.

The reason is this:  Before the testing contractor determines the final cut scores for the tests, they must score a very large sample of all the tests.  That process, part of the “post-test equating” activities, is designed to make certain that the exams are of equal difficulty across years.  Field test item analysis gave estimates of the difficulty levels of each item on each test, but only the final results confirm those estimates.  To be certain, they must check, recalculate, and possibly make changes before all tests can be scored.

About 300,000 Texas students are now out of closed schools.  TEA estimates about 150,000 should have had TAKS tests.  Because those missing tests are not randomly distributed across Texas, the tests they will have may not be representative of all students in the state.  The closing of Ft. Worth ISD made a huge difference.  That’s why they can’t just proceed with the tests they get on schedule.

We were originally scheduled to receive the reports by May 22.   There could be a day-for-day slide.  That is, each day’s delay in TEA getting all tests in Austin could mean a day’s delay in our getting results.  That could possibly push the results past the end of the school year.

TEA must still make some final decisions about how all of this is handled.  Look for official announcements sometime this week.

BTW, the Agency will also need to make some decisions that may affect accountability, too.  Jim will be talking to the head of accountability today to see if he can get some sort of forecast.

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Update on Humble ISD Legislative Committee – 3/9/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 9, 2009

Not a real busy night at the admin building. I was late because I was all a mess with the time change – yeah, sure 😉 But, most importantly, our message is…well, just that, our message. We are pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to get the message to the Lege…FUND OUR SCHOOLS!!! But…we must get our message out to the community to get our message out to the Lege. Well, thanks to Karen Collier, she’s quicker than me, some links to help you and more sample-letters-to-legislators to use to send to our legislators.

Here are links to the House and Senate Education Committee members:
House Education Committee (pdf)
Senate Committee (pdf)

Our group is following, and supports two bills:

1. House Bill 1555 – Rep. Diane Patrick, Ph.D. and the House sponsor of the only school finance bill filed at this time – HB 1555 (which is identical to SB 982). Rep. Patrick, which she titles “The Texas Public Schools Investment Act”. According to her, this act returns to a formula driven system where every student wins. The act is a fiscally responsible option for legislators to consider.The bill also:

· Restores local control through meaningful discretion

· Meets all three criteria of TEA Budget Rider 89

· Increases funding per weighted student (WADA)

· Cuts calculated recapture (Robin Hood) in half

· Provides method for property tax reduction


2. Senate Bill 982 – sponsored by Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and Royce West (D-Dallas)

Learned about a new website at the meeting to, to keep you updated on School Finance Equity & Adequacy in Texas called Equity Center.

Read more about HB1555 here and SB 982 here

Posted in financing, funding, Good Stuff, texas education, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas Charter Schools Association weighs in on HB3 & SB3

Posted by Texas Education on March 6, 2009

I received this email from Ms. Josie Duckett from Texas Charter Schools Association. Here is the email:

David Dunn, Executive Director for the Texas Charter Schools Association, is offering this quote in response to HB 3 and SB 3.

“The Texas Charter Schools Association looks forward to working with Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro and House Education Chairman Rob Eissler regarding their school accountability and growth model legislation.  While we’re still reviewing the particulars of this bill, we applaud their desire and willingness to move our education system in a positive direction.  At its core, their efforts to improve accountability will measure individual student academic growth over time so parents and the public can accurately gauge Texas school performance.  Charter schools currently serve approximately 90,000 students in Texas, and 16,000 more are on waiting lists across the state.  The Texas Charter School Association will continue working with elected officials, TEA, and traditional public schools to help ensure our students get the education they need to be leaders in the 21st Century.”

David Dunn, Executive Director
Texas Charter Schools Association

Thank you,
Josie Duckett
www.txcharterschools.org
Texas Charter Schools Association
Vice President, Public and Government Relations
Office: 512.584.TCSA (8272)
Cell: 412.860.3160
jduckett@txcharterschools.org

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TEA’s hurricane website provides information to school employees, parents

Posted by Texas Education on September 10, 2008

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/comm/page1.html

Sept. 10, 2008

AUSTIN – The Texas Education Agency recently reactivated its hurricane website. Information about school closings, as well as operational information for school districts, is available at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/hurricane/.

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Dual credit and state funding

Posted by Texas Education on August 26, 2008

I’ve seen some titles on this lately, but didn’t know the extent of the problems/issues involved until a recent email I received.

Rumors have been floating around for at least two months that there would be significant changes in the funding of dual credit courses. TEA released the Students Attendance Handbook which contains a new section dealing with students in dual credit courses which states,“if a student is required to pay tuition or fees or to buy a textbook to participate in a course, then your school district may not count the student’s participation in the public school course for ADA.”

Urgent Update:

The 2008-09 Student Attendance Accounting Handbook was published stating that a school district could not count students in attendance for state funding in dual credit courses if those students were charged tuition, fees, or textbook costs. Based on concerns raised by a number of school districts and a request by Senators Duncan and Shapiro, the agency has decided to delay implementation of that policy until the legislature has an opportunity to examine the issues related to dual credit. For the 2008-2009 school year, students who participate in dual credit courses in which students pay tuition, fees, or textbook costs will be allowed to be counted in attendance for state funding purposes.

If you have any questions, please contact either Belinda Dyer at Belinda.dyer@tea.state.tx.us or 512-475-3451 or Nicole Schuessler at Nicole.schuessler@tea.state.tx.us or 512-475-1632.

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Do I hear Vouchers????

Posted by Texas Education on August 5, 2008

Oou, oou, this could be consider Vouchers, eh? Subtitle says “TEA’s inclusion of private groups called back-door voucher program.

One of the state’s largest teacher’s groups sued the state Tuesday over a dropout prevention program that it argues is a back door attempt to facilitate private school vouchers despite the Legislature’s refusal to allow taxpayer dollars to be spent on private school tuitions.

My only thought on this is…why don’t we get these kids before they dropout? This just seems backwards, ridiculous, and a waste of money, ahem, taxpayers money. Case in point ~

Constitutional issue

They are private groups, and the Texas Constitution prohibits spending tax dollars on such organizations, according to the lawsuit, which also asserted that Scott has no legislative authority to fund private school programs.

“They couldn’t push vouchers through the Legislature in an above-board way. So they went through the back door to divert public dollars to private school programs even though lawmakers warned them not to do so,” said Rita Haecker, president of the 65,000-member teachers association.

Yeah, lets not give money to the schools, give them problems out the wazoo, unfunded state mandates, then, when things start crumbling, falling apart, lets do it our way (lege) and throw money at the problem. I keep saying, I see the lege, the districts and even the schools work on issues “after” the fact, instead of pre-emptive measures. Perfect example: work on discipline with the parents (give teachers more time and help,) work with the parents, keep the kids out of short term, long term and eventually High Point, and places that cost the district thousands and thousands of dollars.

Full story here.

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North Forest ISD under new management

Posted by Texas Education on August 1, 2008

I’m not surprised to hear this — being a former employee. I just recently spoke to a colleague asking him how the year went and if he was still there. He said they would change the schedule – mid day, and just change and go to a block schedule, they would change the pay days and more. I’m very glad they gave pink slips to the board, long, long over due. Let’s keep an eye on them, and hope those kids get the education they deserve.

There was a drastic move Thursday to help save a troubled school district. Now, new leaders will be named at North Forest ISD.

[READ THE LETTER: See what the TEA sent to North Forest officials]

The school board and superintendent are out. And state education leaders say they are bringing in an entire team to help students and teachers who go to North Forest ISD.

It’s a long time coming. Problems have plagued this district since the mid-1990s. The students at North Forest before this move faced an uncertain future at best. In reversing North Forest’s election and yanking the elected school board out, the state education agency called the district unstable, adding that effective leadership does not exist in North Forest.

It cannot be too much of a surprise. North Forest was already on academic probation, one step away from being closed by the state. Earlier this year, the state installed a conservator and academic advisor to oversee a school district losing students, funding, and academic credibility.

According to the state, North Forest could not meet payroll last year despite closing schools and laying off staff. It will start the school district, with a budget deficit of $11.8 million dollars and a tax rate that cannot support the district. And parents have been demanding accountability for months.
‘Where’s all the funds going? That’s all we want to know,’ said one parent during an story ran back in March of 2007 on Channel 13.

That was more than a year ago when parents were angry at the district for money woes. The district had also just fired Superintendant James Simpson, handing over $233,000 in severance pay. Since then, North Forest’s board has twice tried to rehire Simpson, moves blocked by the state and cited in Thursday’s letter to the district: ‘We have tried every intervention at our disposal except this one. While our management team and agency employees have helped the district cut its deficit and improve its academic performance, (North Forest) remains in a precarious position.’
It is accountability some in the district have waited a long time for. More than year ago, Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson warned North Forest to change its ways.
‘You must change your policies. You must change your direction,’ he said. ‘Because if you don’t, we will change it for you.’

North Forest’s students are some of the most at risk in our area. The move seems aimed at keeping the schools open and accredited. The current board, in a statement, points out this is not directed to students, but to district governance. The TEA’s action comes after a 13 Undercover unit first exposed serious mismanagement in North Forest’s special education department. It was money meant to go to children with special needs — more than a million dollars in federal tax money. But it was found much of it was going to friends and family members of the special ed director. Many were paid thousands more than they were supposed to get, and some of them were not even qualified to teach special ed. That director has been reassigned. The district attorney’s office is still investigating the whole special ed mess.

North Forest ISD Statement:

North Forest ISD Officials and administrators are aware of TEA Commissioner Robert Scott’s decision to appoint a board of managers and a new superintendent in the North Forest Independent School District.

It is important to note that the Commissioner’s decision deals with governance issues and does not affect North Forest ISD students or staff.
North Forest ISD has cut its deficit and improved academically during the past school year-facts that Commissioner Scott, himself, has pointed out. However, the District respects and accepts the Commissioner’s authority in making this decision. Additionally, North Forest ISD’s administrators and staff are committed to working with TEA to continue to stabilize and improve North Forest ISD.

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Don’t forget – School Finance Summit

Posted by Texas Education on July 25, 2008

Don’t forget about the School Finance Summit. Looks like I won’t be able to go, I will be in sunny Cal. to watch my daughter play water polo. (I knew there’d be a time I could get that plug in.)

The Texas Education Agency has been planning a School Finance Summit to identify and explore financial issues important to school districts. This is in preparation of the upcoming 81st session of the Texas Legislature. Our hope is to have productive data and information gathering conversations with the field to offer some possibilities for both short-term and long-term solutions to school finance issues. The summit will be held in room 1-104 of the William B. Travis Building from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday, July 29, 2008. The participants will include a representative from each of the 20 education service centers, a representative from 12 education associations and 4 individuals in addition to the Commissioner of Education and our Deputy Associate Commissioner for School Finance. Each participant is encouraged to be familiar with the school finance system and larger concerns and issues of their region and/or association. In addition to the invited participants, interested educators and general public are welcome to observe the conversation. The agency will also make this discussion available to interested parties via live audio web streaming (on our website at www.tea.state.tx.us). We hope that this opportunity will result in field-based recommendations and priorities that will be present in the upcoming legislative session.

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Texas waives penalty for schools with high drop out rates

Posted by Texas Education on July 24, 2008

I’m sorry, I’m all for our schools getting a break, ie: why I’m here. BUT, I’m also a realist, and I’m also for our schools being held accountable. Yes, I normally side with the schools, raw deals from the Lege, etc. But I’m not for them getting away with corruption, greed or laziness. This smacks of letting schools off the hook. This is how we get into some of the messes we are into. Letting things…slide. I’m hearing mixed signals here. I say to Commissioner Scott, stand up, keep schools accountable. Maybe I’m getting tougher in my old age, I don’t know. for full story

For the second year in a row, Texas schools with high dropout rates will escape landing on the state’s dreaded unacceptable list thanks to a free pass from state Education Commissioner Robert Scott.

Prompted by nervous school leaders, Scott said he is giving districts another year to adjust to the state’s tougher dropout standard before labeling them “academically unacceptable” for falling short.

Scott’s waiver — which pleased some school superintendents — prompted frustration Wednesday from the state’s two key education lawmakers, who said districts need to be held accountable for dropouts.

“I’m disappointed,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “Right now we are studying accountability, and as we put a waiver in at this moment in time, we are lessening the rigor and effectiveness of our accountability system.”

I like what Bob Sanborn, a Houston education activist and researcher, says:

“The graduation rate is probably one of the clearest forms of rating performance,” said Sanborn, who heads the non-profit Children at Risk. “And the longer that we hide behind this facade of graduation rates don’t need to count, the longer it will take for us to start reforming our schools.”

Additional reading on this subject, AGENDA FOR STRENGTHENING URBAN EDUCATION

CHILDREN AT RISK has worked to improve graduation rates in Houston and throughout Texas. CHILDREN AT RISK in collaboration with stakeholders at the national, state, and local level share a sense of urgency to address the education crisis that continues to affect Texas. If Texans fail to act and strengthen public education we risk undermining the economic opportunity of the state.

To keep Texas strong, we must take action to reshape our educational system. The goal of CHILDREN AT RISK is straightforward – to create the opportunity for every child to improve the condition of their existence. Through strengthening education, CHILDREN AT RISK strives to cultivate an educated citizenry of self-sufficient individuals who are lifelong learners thriving in the workplace.

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TEA Investigates Charter School Expenses

Posted by Texas Education on July 23, 2008

A little hanky panky going on at a charter school in San Antonino, eh?

Your kids may not go to a charter school, but your tax dollars do. Now the News 4 Trouble Shooters have uncovered San Antonio’s largest charter school is under investigation. School’s out for summer but there’s still work going on at the School of Excellence. The Texas Education Agency confirms its auditors are examining school records after it received complaints that the superintendent is using school funds for his own personal use.

This super sounds extremely shady:

It’s how money is being spent here that has state auditors looking at credit card purchases and cell phone charges made by Superintendent Ricky Hooker, who makes $150,000 a year. The News 4 Trouble Shooters have also obtained those same records. We quickly discovered the superintendent has not turned in receipts for many of the charges on the school credit card. If I haven’t turned in receipts, it’s because I misplaced them, I’ve lost them. Those receipts are pretty nominal amounts. Almost every one of them has a story,” said Hooker. That’s the problem, they shouldn’t have stories. The state requires receipts showing the expenses were for school business.

and,

We questioned another $411 in plane tickets. Hooker told us he purchased the tickets so he and his wife could visit family in North Carolina last summer. The News 4 Trouble Shooters have confirmed auditors are also checking charges to see if Hooker has been using school funds for an outside business he is involved in called ACN, which is a Multilevel Marketing company that sells phone services. For example, he has bought more than $1,000 in books and other materials from get-rich-quick gurus that frequently speak at ACN events. They include topics on wealth-building and how to run a home business. Some of the products were even shipped to Hooker’s house. He claims they’re used at the School of Excellence, where they specialize in helping disadvantaged kids who he apparently thinks will one day get in trouble with the law. “I have a passion for entrepreneurship. No doubt in my mind.

Here for the full story.

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