Education Commissioner Gives Students A Breather | KERA News

Education Commissioner Gives Students A Breather

Texas high school students can relax about the new standardized testing known as STAAR -  The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.  Today, the  head of the Texas Education Agency, Robert Scott,  signed an order deferring a requirement that test results count toward 15 percent of the students’ overall grade.

 Scott's move followed public outcry that poor performance on the newer, tougher test could hurt students’ chances getting into college.

The Commissioner said schools that want to defer the end-of-course exams just need to contact the TEA.

Lawmakers said waiting a year before STAAR impacts grades will give officials a chance to fully implement i

AP

Train Derails In Arlington

An Arlington train derailment this afternoon prompted evacuations of five buildings,  but initial fears of a hazardous spill have eased.

Arlington Fire Department spokesman Darrell Whitfield said about fifteen train cars left the track near the municipal complex in the city.

Whitfield said concern that a tanker might contain  dangerous liquid eased when officials learned the substance was corn syrup.

Still, as a precaution, evacuees weren’t immediately allowed back into the mini warehouses where they worked. No one was reported hurt, and  Union Pacific will investigate.

AP

LBJ Advisor McPherson Dies

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Texas says Johnson's former adviser & special counsel Harry McPherson Jr., has died at the age of 82.

The library says McPherson had battled cancer and died Thursday.

McPherson influenced the president on a range of policies from civil rights to bombing in Vietnam. He helped write Johnson's 1968 speech announcing a halt in bombing in Vietnam and that Johnson would not run for reelection.

After working for Johnson, McPherson worked as a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He wrote a 1972 memoir, "A Political Education," recalling his experience in government and the Johnson presidency.

AP

Texas House Committee Evaluates Charter Schools

Members on Friday were evaluating what works at the best charter schools and how those lessons can be applied to charter schools that aren't successful.

Charter schools were first approved in Texas in 1995 and are allowed to operate with fewer legal restrictions than regular public schools to allow for innovation.

Current law caps the number of open-enrollment charter schools in the state at 215.

Some Republicans have clamored for the number to be increased. But critics point to existing charter schools that struggle with low student and teacher performance.

AP

Texas Supreme Court Denies Leach

The Texas Supreme Court has denied Mike Leach's appeal in his wrongful termination lawsuit against Texas Tech.

Friday’s ruling came more than two years after the university fired Leach amid claims the football coach mistreated player Adam James when he had a concussion. He’s the son of U.S. Senate candidate Craig James.

Leach denies the allegations. He has said an $800,000 bonus due the day after his firing was behind his dismissal.

Attorneys for Leach, now coaching at Washington State, wanted to argue against an appellate ruling that threw out Leach's breach of contract claim.

AP

Study: No Link Between Fracking, Contamination

A University of Texas study says there's no direct link between groundwater contamination and a controversial process to extract oil and gas known as fracking.

UT's Energy Institute says contamination can occur due to spill above ground or mishandling of wastewater. But the institute argues those problems are not caused directly by fracking.

Fracking involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil and gas to the surface. The process is used to improve productivity in gas reserves over the U.S., including the Barnett Shale in North Texas.

An Energy Institute spokesman says no industry funds paid for the project. Fracking opponents say the study needs to be reviewed.

AP

San Antonio Doctors Start Cancer Research Project

Almost 100 doctors in San Antonio are joining a research project to study the differences between cancerous cells and healthy ones.

The San Antonio Express-News reports the doctors want to collect samples of at least 1,000 common tumors. They will also take samples of healthy cells from the same patients and then map the entire genetic codes of both.

The doctors hope to find dozens of differences between healthy and cancerous cells - information that could guide the treatment of those patients.

Organizers of the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project say they eventually need $3 million in fundraising. So far, they've raised about $200,000.

AP