Texas Education Agency

Students draw self-portraits in a kindergarten class on the first day of in-person classes at Highland Village Elementary.
Shelby Tauber for The Texas Tribune

More than 2,300 of Texas public school students who have returned to school in person since the beginning of this academic year — about 0.21% — have reported testing positive for COVID-19, according to a dashboard the state released Thursday in a first effort to publicly track the way the pandemic is impacting public schools.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

In a statement Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said local health authorities can shut down schools if there’s evidence of an outbreak after students have already returned to campus — but cannot shut them down weeks before schools open.

His statement backs a legal opinion released by the Texas attorney general issued on Tuesday.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Members of the Texas Association of School Administrators are worried that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's recent opinion about school reopenings amid the pandemic created more confusion than clarity. In a statement the association released Thursday, the group said Paxton "muddied the waters" when he said that local health authorities don't have the right to shut down schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A sign at Crockett High Schools says the building is closed until further notice because of the coronavirus.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

The Austin Independent School District's "very existence" could be threatened if it doesn't follow rules set out by the Texas Education Agency, the director of academics said Wednesday.

A classroom with chairs overturned on top of desks.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Local health officials do not have the authority to shut down all schools in their vicinity while COVID-19 cases rise, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in nonbinding guidance Tuesday that contradicts what the Texas Education Agency has told school officials.

Dicklyon /Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Note: This interview was recorded before the Texas Education Agency released updated guidelines for school districts to follow when reopening for the fall. The updated guidelines were released Friday morning. 

As COVID-19 cases in Texas continue to rise, parents and students are urgently seeking an answer to the question: What happens in the fall?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Facing growing backlash from teachers, parents and health officials, Texas education officials Friday relaxed a previous order that would have given public schools just three weeks from the start of the fall semester to reopen their classrooms for in-person instruction.

Students outside North Forest High School in Houston.
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Local public health officials will be able to keep Texas schools closed for in-person instruction this fall without risking state education funding, a Texas Education Agency spokesperson confirmed to The Texas Tribune Wednesday.

Dawson Elementary School closes on Friday, March 13, following the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

The union for Austin Independent School District employees is asking the district and the state not to send employees back to school buildings in August. Union members say it is unsafe for employees and children to be in classes together.

Michael Minasi/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Less than three weeks ago, Texas was set to unveil its public-school reopening plan for the fall. That announcement was stalled after coronavirus cases and hospitalizations started to soar in the state.

But on Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency finally released its back-to-school guidelines, which included recommendations for preventing the spread of the coronavirus on campuses.

A sutdent in a classroom at Cactus Elementary School.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Masks for students and teachers will be mandatory in counties with more than 20 reported COVID-19 cases when public schools resume in-person classes this fall, under new public health guidelines released by Texas state education officials Tuesday.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas students will be returning to public schools in person this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott told state lawmakers Thursday morning.

The state's top education officials confirmed the plans in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

In a move that is unprecedented in scope, Texas state officials announced Wednesday they plan on taking over the state’s largest school district, yanking power from Houston Independent School District’s elected school board members to “prevent imminent and substantial harm to the welfare of the district’s students.”

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

In 2004, the Texas Education Agency put a limit on the percentage of students it would allow into special education programs, which affected thousands. The Houston Chronicle exposed the illegal policy in 2016, and the investigation led to the Texas Legislature barring the agency from imposing such limits. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Report cards are out, and the Austin Independent School District received a preliminary grade of B for the 2018-19 school year from the Texas Education Agency. But the district also received failing grades at elementary and middle schools in the TEA's first-ever evaluation of individual schools.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Two teacher associations sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday, arguing they rolled out a law incentivizing partnerships with school districts and charter schools in a way that weakened protections for public school employees.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The Austin Independent School District received a grade of "B" under the state's new A-F grading system. The Texas Education Agency released the preliminary grades for the first time Wednesday.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Texas activists pushing for a high school course on Mexican-American history won a hard-fought victory in April, when the State Board of Education voted to create the class. 

Bryan Winter / KUT

Four Austin schools received the lowest ranking in an accountability report released by the state Tuesday.

Burnet, Martin and Mendez middle schools, as well as Govalle Elementary School, were rated "improvement needed" by the Texas Education Agency

That's down from eight Austin schools receiving the rating in 2016. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Some school districts in Texas with high property values could see more money this fiscal year after the Texas Education Agency decided in a sudden move to change how it interprets a complicated aspect of the state’s school finance system.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr/KUT

Many Central Texas school districts received mediocre grades from the state under a new accountability system, according to a report of preliminary grades obtained by KUT.

World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Since the 1970s, federal law has stated that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free public education appropriate to their needs. Nationwide, the percentage of kids who receive special ed services is around 13 percent.

But in Texas, that number is substantially lower. Just 8.5 percent of all public school kids in Texas are enrolled in special ed programs – the lowest percentage in the country. That number appears to be no mere accident – instead, it’s a rather specific objective.


Nathan Bernier/KUT

In a rare move, thehe State Board of Education preliminarily voted Wednesday against an amendment from the State Board of Educator Certification to change superintendent job requirements. Last month, the SBEC voted to loosen requirements so school boards can hire candidates who have no classroom experience. 

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

In 2013, when Texas passed its first overhaul of charter school policy since 1995 — the year the publicly funded but privately operated schools were first established in the state — lawmakers included a provision intended to speed the shuttering of poor-performing schools.

But nearly 10 months after the Texas Education Agency marked six operators for closure under the new measure, three of those schools remain open. As those charters prepare to open their doors this month for a new school year, they say they are fighting a process that does not account for the full picture of a charter’s financial or academic health.  

Jon Shapley for KUT News

An Austin charter school slated for closure by the state may be getting a second chance.

The Texas Education Agency had ordered American Youthworks to close by next month. But the school went to court and argued everything was a misunderstanding.

On Friday, a judge agreed to hear the school's case – possibly extending the school's life for at least one more semester.

Texas Education Agency

The English I writing exam is giving Texas students trouble.

According to the Texas Education Agency, only 15 percent of students who took the writing exam in December – part of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test – passed. And most of those students were taking it for the second time.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin School Board approved a set of plans Monday night for 11 schools that need improvement under the Texas Education Agency’s new accountability standards.

But as it rolls out year-long plans requiring monthly TEA visits and evaluations, it awaits new changes to the standards for this academic year.

“It’s going to keep us very focused," says Paul Cruz, AISD Chief Schools Officer. "We don’t know what the performance standards are going to be, but that’s also for every school in state of Texas."

How the School Finance Trial Will Impact Texas Education

Jul 16, 2013
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

If you're confused by the all the lawsuits, arguments and recent rulings in the ongoing Texas school finance case, you're not alone.

Last month, the drawn out saga took a new turn when the presiding judge in the case said he'd need to reopen the case in January to determine whether the way the state pays for its public schools still needs fixing. In essence, it looks like Texas has another six week trial to look forward to.

It seems like now is as good a time as any to get up to speed on where the case has been, and where it could go from here.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night for the elementary and middle schools that feed into Eastside Memorial High.

Eastside hasn’t been meeting academic standards and could be shut down. In an effort to keep it open, the board approved a partnership with Johns Hopkins last month.  But that program’s plan didn’t include an outline of what should happen at feeder schools.

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