Sen. Whitmire, TEA Commissioner Williams: More work is needed to reform school discipline
Texas has a history of leadership when it comes to identifying and solving public policy challenges. And in the realm of school discipline, that leadership is again on display. Three years ago, data from Texas put school discipline reform on the map. The report “Breaking Schools’ Rules” from the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center opened our eyes to disturbing discipline practices in Texas public schools. The report included the shocking statistic that nearly 60 percent of secondary school students had been suspended or expelled.
Study shows 28 percent decline in expulsions in Texas
Suspensions and expulsions have dropped across Texas since 2011, but education leaders say more could be done to keep troubled students from falling behind in school. A study released by the Council of State Governments Justice Center this week shows that Texas has seen a 28 percent drop in expulsions and a 10 percent drop in in-school suspensions since 2011. They have credited the declines to a new law aimed at decriminalizing minor school offenses and another study by the council in 2011 that showed the pitfalls of zero-tolerance policies in Texas classrooms.
STAAR English end-of-course exams trip up Texas high schoolers
Texas high school students again struggled in English on the state’s end-of-course exams this year, but results were more positive in algebra, biology and U.S. history — thanks in part to low passing standards. On the U.S. history test, given for the first time, 92 percent passed. Scores on the English I and English II exams raised the most concern. Just 62 percent of students passed in English I, and 66 percent passed in English II. Minority students had the most difficulty.
Statewide STAAR Grades 3-8 Passing Rates Released
TEA released statewide passing rates for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) math and reading tests in grades 3-8. Nearly all grades saw an improvement in mathematics performance, with the exception of grade 7. Passing rates on the grade 7 math exam dropped by four percentage points, from 71% in 2013 to 67% in 2014.
Results in reading were mixed, with fluctuations in passing rates from grade to grade. Passing rates on the grade 3 reading exam dropped by three percentage points, while passing rates on the grade 6 exam increased by six percentage points.
View the Statewide Summary Reports.
STAAR® end-of-course results strong for Texas high school students
High school students posted strong passing rates for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) end-of-course exams in Biology, Algebra I and U.S. History, according to preliminary statewide results released today by the Texas Education Agency. The results reflect passing rates for the spring 2014 administration of STAAR and STAAR L.
“It’s encouraging to see ongoing improvement in core subjects such as Algebra I and Biology as students and teachers adapt to the higher rigor of STAAR,” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “Academic success for our students today strengthens the Texas of tomorrow.”
Texas students are required to pass five end-of-course exams – Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology and U.S. History – in order to receive a high school diploma. In preliminary statewide results for the 2013–2014 school year for first-time testers, Texas students posted the highest statewide passing rate in Biology. The 93 percent passing rate also represented the largest increase (six percentage points) over results from the previous school year.
Difference From 2012-2013
The 2013–2014 school year represented the first time the STAAR U.S. History end-of-course exam was administered statewide. Students posted a passing rate of 92 percent.
The next highest passing rate was seen among students taking the STAAR Algebra I end-of-course exam. Eighty-six percent successfully passed this exam, which was four percentage points above the results from the previous school year.
Difference From 2012-2013
The 2013–2014 school year marked the initial use of a combined STAAR Reading and Writing end-of-course exam for English I and English II. Reading and writing had been tested separately in previous years. Passing rates in these two English Language Arts areas continued to lag behind other core subjects.
For students taking the English I end-of-course exam, seventy-two percent passed. For the English II end-of-course exam, seventy-three percent of students passed.
The Class of 2014 also represented the last group of students to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) as part of their graduation requirements. Of the 301,013 students who first took the TAKS Exit-Level assessments in spring 2013 and are still in Texas public schools today, 97 percent have met their assessment requirement for graduation. Only three percent (or 8,939 students statewide) still have one or more subject-area assessments left to pass.
Students who did not pass required STAAR end-of-course exams or TAKS tests will have the opportunity to retake the tests July 7–11.
Comparison charts of statewide results and summary charts provide greater detail on all STAAR results. To review state-level reports, visit the Texas Education Agency website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/staar/rpt/sum/.
Texas Education Agency changes how it grades public schools
Most Texas public school students are done with this year’s standardized tests. This year’s school ratings will be very different from the ones used for several years. This year, for the first time, the work of many English-language learners will be included in the ratings, and a few of the state’s highest-achieving students will be excluded. New measures of “postsecondary readiness” are part of the mix. And nobody — not at the state or district level — knows exactly what the effect of those changes will be.
The Texas Miracle depends on our students
Texas’ economy is still the envy of the nation. The state has added 310,000 jobs across its 11 major industries in the last year. Monthly job growth has remained positive for more than three years. Our unemployment rate is well below the national average and continues to fall. But we can’t just be the envy of the nation. We’re competing not just with other states, but with countries like China and Germany. And while factors like tax policy and infrastructure will play important roles in our economic growth, a skilled, educated workforce will be Texas’ greatest asset as we compete in a global economy. To keep our businesses competitive, we must identify and implement innovative education and workforce development opportunities.
More than 250 people have applied for spot on Dallas ISD home-rule charter commission
Dallas ISD has received more than 250 applications from people interested in serving on the district’s home-rule charter commission, according to board president Eric Cowan. Trustees are meeting Friday morning to finalize the process for selecting the 15 members.
OPINION: Raise age of juvenile jurisdiction
Texas is one of only 10 states that automatically places children under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. Overwhelming evidence suggests that sending 17-year-olds to adult jails – rather than keeping them in the juvenile justice system – needlessly destroys lives and threatens public safety by turning nonviolent teenagers into hardened criminals. As sheriffs, we would prefer to see these teenagers moved to facilities with rehabilitative services better suited for their age. Accordingly, we strongly support efforts to raise the age of juvenile criminal jurisdiction for all youth from 17 to 18.
State wants judge in school finance suit off the case
Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office on Monday sought to remove the judge presiding over the public school finance case, contending that his impartiality is in question due to email exchanges with lawyers that filed the lawsuit. A lawyer for one group of the school districts that sued over the funding system, David Thompson, said state District Judge John Dietz has been impartial and that state lawyers have had the same opportunity to communicate with the judge. Abbott’s office said the state wasn’t notified of the communications with plaintiffs or given a chance to respond. The school finance case has been raised as a campaign issue in the governor’s race between Abbott, a Republican, and Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis.
Texas Students Receive Fewer Disciplinary Tickets
New court data show that the number of tickets written by public school police officers for student misbehavior has fallen 71 percent since new laws designed to reduce the procedure went into effect late last year. Until the new laws, students who caused disruptions on school buses or in classrooms, who trespassed, or who possessed drugs or alcohol on school grounds could be ticketed with a Class C misdemeanor.