ELECTION DAY IS TOMORROW. VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!
Lynn Moak, a leading education analyst in Texas for nearly five decades, told state District Judge John Dietz this week that nearly half of Texas’ ninth-graders — about 150,000 — aren’t on track to graduate because they failed at least one of the state’s new, more rigorous standardized tests, known as STAAR, last school year.
Moak said paying for programs to help students catch up and ensure others pass — thus meeting the state’s existing college and career-readiness goals — would require restoring the two-year, $5.4 billion in cuts to public schools and grant programs passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. But it would also mean state funding for public education should increase overall by about another $6 billion annually.
The Senate Committee on Education met on October 30th to monitor the implementation of legislation adopted by 82nd Legislature. They spent a good bit of time questioning TEA about the new assessment program, STAAR, and the new accountability system being developed. It turns out that progress is very slow on the development of distinction awards. The committee is further along with the four core academic distinctions, than with the distinctions for fine arts, physical activity/health, career and technology.
Beginning with the freshman class of 2014, the University of Texas-Austin will accept students in the top 7% of their high school class. This is the tightest admission limit UT has ever set for the three-quarters of its incoming freshman class selected by class rank, leaving one-quarter of the freshman class to be filled through holistic review. Such a decision not only impacts the University of Texas, but also will have a ripple effect at universities across the state.
There’s a new coalition joining the school accountability fray, the Texas Coalition for a Competitive Workforce. The new coalition stresses the end game in education: filling jobs. And thousands of jobs in Central Texas alone are going unfilled, said chamber president Mike Rollins, because businesses are unable to find a skilled workforce.
Sen. Dan Patrick, new chairman of Senate Public Education Committee, plans to announce his public school choice plan before Thanksgiving.