Education | KERA News

Education

Liberty High School in Frisco has grown rapidly and become more diverse since opening in 2006.
Credit Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Every week, KERA reporters go inside the classroom, meeting students, teachers and administrators, to explore the latest in education in North Texas. KERA's ongoing education coverage is part of the national public broadcasting initiative American Graduate

Explore in-depth education multimedia projects: Race, Poverty and the Changing Face of Schools, a look at the changing demographics at four North Texas high schools; What’s Next For The Class Of 17?, stories about North Texas students from eighth grade to graduation; Homeless in High School, how schools and kids deal with homelessness; and Generation One, meet first-generation Texans who are reshaping schools.

Support for KERA’s education coverage is made possible in part by:

Lara Solt / KERA Special Contributor

A few years back, the Dallas school district came up with an ambitious plan to save failing schools. Accelerating Campus Excellence, or ACE, pours money and the best teachers and principals into struggling schools. With Fort Worth, Garland and Richardson borrowing the idea for their failing schools, can ACE work on a larger scale?

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

The Texas Education Agency will levy a $100,000 financial penalty against the New Jersey-based company that develops and administers standardized tests, after tens of thousands of Texas students were kicked out of the testing software or encountered connection problems while taking computerized State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exams in April and May.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Opened in 2011 to relieve crowding at other nearby schools, John T. White Elementary School in Northeast Fort Worth has always been on the state’s “Improvement Required” list.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Once on the state’s list of failing schools, Pinkston High School in West Dallas has managed to turn things around, meeting state education standards for the past three years.

Now, with the nearby Edison Middle Learning Center closing, Pinkston is preparing to take in hundreds of younger students coming from the struggling school.

Kenyon Gerbrandt / Shutterstock

The Fort Worth school district is trying to recruit teachers with a billboard campaign in Oklahoma, where teacher protests about classroom funding recently closed schools across the state.

Fort Worth ISD has placed red billboards in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. They declare, “Your future is in a Fort Worth classroom.”

Three million school children in the U.S. are identified as gifted. That's roughly the top 10 percent of the nation's highest achieving students.

But Rene Islas, head of the National Association for Gifted Children, says tens of thousands of gifted English language learners are never identified. We sat down with Islas and asked him why.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

For five straight years, Thomas Edison Middle Learning Center has failed to meet the state’s minimum education standards.

The West Dallas school named for America’s great inventor couldn’t find a way to earn to a passing grade. One more failing round of tests and the state would shut it down or even take over the district.

So instead of waiting on the verdict, Edison will close its doors.   

iStock.com

In 2006, in Dallas, a construction company sued a charter school, alleging that the school stiffed workers on a building contract to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Seniors at J.W. Adamson High School in Dallas had a lot to celebrate on Wednesday. Many of them have plans to go to college tuition free. That’s thanks to a new initiative called Dallas County Promise.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Mitchell Boulevard Elementary is one of five low-performing schools in the Fort Worth Independent School District that has been designated a “leadership academy.”

The school struggles with kids regularly moving in and out and low literacy rates, but administrators believe changes made this year — including an ambitious literacy goal set by the district — will put Mitchell Boulevard back on track.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Texas is getting tough with chronically low-performing schools. A 2015 law allows the state education commissioner to shut down schools or take over districts when schools go five straight years with the state’s lowest accountability rating: "Improvement Required."

College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.

And yet, research has shown that low-income students make up just 3 percent of the students that attend America's most selective colleges.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

RICHARDSON — Jaculyn Zigtema, a special education director in Whitehouse ISD in East Texas, told state education officials Monday that she planned to hire two diagnosticians, four teachers and two behavioral specialists to handle an anticipated spike in students considered eligible for special education.

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Update, May 15: Alumni's efforts apparently came too late to save the student newspaper from folding its print edition as well as the paper's publishing company from shutting down. More here

Southern Methodist University alumni are raising funds to try to preserve the independent student media company that’s scheduled for dissolution next month.

The State Board of Education approved a Mexican-American studies elective based on a Houston course that looks at history, culture and current events, and the Austin Independent School District will now decide whether to adopt the course.  

Laura Skelding

* Update, April 13: On Friday, the State Board of Education gave its final approval to development of the Ethnic Studies: An Overview of Americans of Mexican Descent course. 

All this week schools across Oklahoma were closed as public school teachers rallied at the state Capitol for better pay and more money for the classroom.

After 10 years of budget cuts and some of the lowest teacher wages in the nation, teachers say they've had enough.

Pay in Oklahoma has been so low, in fact, that districts often suffer from severe teacher shortages — many talented educators have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. Some estimates put the number of teachers who have left near 2,000.

Tiffany Szerpicki

Teachers in states across the nation are going on strike to protest funding cuts for public education. But a Texas law is quashing talk of teachers here joining the walkouts. 

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has attracted controversy for her stance on school vouchers, visited North Texas Thursday.  

DeSoto ISD

DeSoto Independent School District Superintendent David Harris resigned this week.

UNT Dallas College of Law

Angela Felecia Epps, former dean of Florida A&M University College of Law and Marine veteran, will serve as the new dean for the UNT Dallas College of Law, the university announced.

From Texas Standard.

Teachers have walked off the job in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma – and there are rumblings that Arizona could be next. Their demands in each state vary, but they can be boiled down to wanting a bigger piece of the pie, either for themselves or the schools they work in.

YouTube / Screenshot

For a high school senior, receiving a big envelope from a college is a good sign. It likely contains an acceptance letter, ending the waiting game and green-lighting the next adventure.

Thousands of public school teachers across Oklahoma will stay out of the classroom – and many will take to the streets — starting today, after they rejected a pay raise they said fails to compensate for some of the lowest educators' salaries in the country.

Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin signed raises of around $6,100 – about 15 to 18 percent per teacher, as well as $33 million for textbooks and $18 million in additional school funding, to be paid for with a tax increase on cigarettes, fuel and oil and gas production.

iStock.com

Texas schools issued more than 64,000 in-school suspensions to students in the second grade or younger during the 2015-16 school year, and a disproportionate number of those students were black, male, in foster care or in special education, according to a report released Monday by a children's advocacy group.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Texas pre-kindergarten programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Texas got final approval Monday from the U.S. Department of Education for its school improvement and accountability plan, including a portion of its new system for grading schools.

Shutterstock

In 1999, when TVs and desktops dominated, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its famous recommendation that children use no electronic screens before the age of 2.

Then in 2016 came an about face: If screens were used for something like video chat with faraway relatives or for looking at photos, they could be a good thing for kids of any age.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The education world is dense with data. And all those numbers can be numbing, especially for nonprofits trying to make a difference.

One day each year, Fidelity Investments invites those groups to its complex near Grapevine Lake to help make sense of it all.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Richardson Independent School District is launching a plan aimed at improving four of its low-performing elementary schools.

It joins other North Texas school districts – Dallas and Fort Worth – that have poured more money and resources into its struggling campuses.

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