Facts and insights about Texas public schools

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More Texas Students Taking AP Exams

The number of Texas graduates taking at least one Advanced Placement Program® (AP) exam during high school continues to grow, according to figures from the College Board. For the Class of 2014, 39.1 percent of Texas students took exams, surpassing the national average of 35.7 percent.

College Board data also showed that Texas is the only state that achieved equitable participation for low-income students. Equitable participation is defined as the percentage of K–12 students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (51.1 percent) in the state equaling the number of AP exam takers (51.0 percent). And while no state achieved equitable success (percentage of AP exam takers scoring a three or higher during high school), Texas students came the closest.

April 24, 2015

New Campaign Shows How Vouchers Hurt

Raise Your Hand Texas recently introduced “VOUCHers Hurt Public Schools and Students,”  a new campaign that opposes the voucher bill passed by the Texas Senate. As part of the efforts, the organization produced a video, Same ol’ Mr. Voucher, disputing some of the common claims being touted by voucher proponents.

April 23, 2015

Teachers Group: We Have Great Public Schools

The Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) is working to counter the negative information being shared about Texas public schools. In a recent blog post, TSTA tackles the voucher debate under way in the Texas Legislature.

“Yes, some schools—particularly in low-income neighborhoods—are struggling, and they are struggling because the legislators at the head of the voucher movement refuse to begin work on an adequate and fair method of state education funding. Nor, do they care much about providing low-income families with the health care and other support services so important to the educational climate for children, the vast majority of whom will remain in public schools, with or without vouchers.”

Check the TSTA Website for additional information concerning vouchers and testing.

April 22, 2015

Opinion: Voucher Bill Harms Public Schools

In a recent blog post, Diane Ravitch, a research professor and historian of education, weighs in on the school voucher bill being considered by the Texas Senate.

“I am proud to be a native Texan, but I am not proud of the men who are destroying the public schools that educated me and my family and made it possible for me to go to a good college. If I were in Austin, I would say to State Senator Larry Taylor and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick that vouchers and tax credits (backdoor vouchers) hurt the great majority of children who attend public schools.”

April 17, 2015

Texas High Schools on Smartest Schools List

Four Texas public high schools have made the top 50 list of best US schools for academics: Westlake High School, Eanes ISD; Liberal Arts & Science Academy, Austin ISD; Highland Park High School, Highland Park ISD; and School for the Talented & Gifted, Dallas ISD. Niche K-12, a college data website, compiled the list of smartest public high schools in the nation. The ratings are based on state assessment proficiency, the colleges students attend, AP enrollment and exam pass rates, graduation rates, and composite ACT and SAT scores.

April 16, 2015

Video Offers Insights on Vouchers

This video created by the Southern Education Foundation provides an interesting perspective on school vouchers that may resonate with some school leaders and community members.

The SEF’s position: “We need to make a choice: do we fully fund our public schools that serve all students?  Or do we continue to support private school options for a few, at the cost of underfunded public schools? We believe in fully funded public schools and reforms that equip our schools to meet the needs of each and every student.”

April 14, 2015

The Truth about Texas Public Schools

Andra Self, president of the Texas Association of School Boards and Lufkin ISD school board member, addresses some misinformation about Texas public schools. In a guest column, Self examines claims made during the legislative session.

“Despite all the challenges facing our students outside the classroom, graduation rates are setting record highs. Another measure of academic health of our schools is that the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams has more than doubled during the past decade. Further, the number of low-income graduates taking at least one AP exam has more than quadrupled.

This is not a time to be disparaging Texas public schools. This is a time to be celebrating the success of public schools and helping them to do even better in the future.”

April 13, 2015

Texas Succeeds at Turning Around Poor-Performing Schools

Texas educators have an excellent track record of turning around schools that are identified to be low-performing. According to years of data collected by the Texas Education Agency, 80 percent of schools that receive the lowest rating move out of that category after one year. Almost all of the rest (a total of 95 percent) move out after the second year.

At present, only 72 schools out of 8,571 public schools in Texas have been unacceptable for more than two years. Don’t be fooled into believing that there are large numbers of failing schools in Texas.

April 7, 2015

A Closer Look at Vouchers

Vouchers have different names these days—scholarships, taxpayer savings grants—but the underlying principle is the same: using public tax dollars to fund tuition at private schools. A column in the April issue of Texas Lone Star magazine takes a look at some of the common claims made by voucher supporters.

April 6, 2015

Background on Accountability Standards

Critics are convinced our schools are failing. However, more than 90 percent of Texas districts are meeting the state’s accountability standards, and only 9 percent of districts fall in the underperforming category. A look at historical data shows that the underperforming schools won’t be in this category for long.

The Texas Association of School Boards prepared an issue brief that examines the state accountability system and how schools respond to ratings.

“According to data from TEA, Texas educators are able to dramatically reduce the number of Academically Unacceptable campuses and districts after just one year. Further, most schools rectify their issues by Year 3 of unacceptable performance.”

April 3, 2015