Of Houses and Hope: A Promising Fort Worth School Turnaround and the Closely Watched Policy Push Making It Happen

Fort Worth

As kids pass in the halls at Como Elementary, the undercurrent of joy about the school’s Harry Potter-style house system is palpable. Banners and other color-coded emblems on display at the Fort Worth, Texas, school identify the societies into which students and educators alike are organized.

Small faces light up when they see the coaches and administrators who are their adult housemates. Fists are bumped and, after a meeting where especially big accomplishments are celebrated, house logo T-shirts are shown off.

The multi-grade houses — philotimo, tolmao, ignosi and pistos, or honor, courage, knowledge and trust — get together once a week and celebrate wins. At the start of the year, the victories are typically small things that are important to building the school’s culture, like passing quietly from class to class. As the school year goes on, the effort needed to gain recognition rises.

John King Talks Teacher Diversity, Student Engagement, Budgeting, School Autonomy — and ‘Fauxtonomy’ — at Texas Education Reform Summit

John King may be the first U.S. secretary of education who was kicked out of high school. But he hopes he’s not the last.

King’s parents died before he finished sixth grade. By the time he was in high school, he was a hurting, angry kid who needed a lot of patience. He found it, he says, from teachers.

“Part of my story is about second chances and the willingness of adults to have more hope for me than I had for myself and to see me as more than the sum of my mistakes,” King said in a recent interview with Jeremy Smith, president of the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, at a Fort Worth, Texas, summit co-hosted by the foundation and education reform nonprofit Empower Schools.

Transformation Waco schools show significant progress on STAAR exams

Students in Transformation Waco schools have made significant strides in their performance on state standardized exams in the past two years, even surpassing state average scores on some tests this year, CEO Robin McDurham said at a board meeting Tuesday night.

Three of the five Transformation Waco schools that are part of an in-district charter system designed to improve student achievement showed gains in reading and math scores over last year’s state standardized test scores, according to preliminary data released by the Texas Education Agency.

“We’ve come a long way since two years ago, when all five zone schools were at the bottom 5% in the state,” McDurham said. “The idea that we’re beating state averages in some areas right now — that’s a celebration.”

Alexander named executive principal of Lubbock Partnership Network

Cicely Alexander, current principal of Alderson Elementary, has been named the executive principal of the Lubbock Partnership Network.

According to a news release, the Lubbock Partnership Network is an innovative partnership with Lubbock ISD designed to continue improving learning outcomes at a group of schools in the Estacado feeder pattern by increasing their access to resources and providing the means to work together. Dunbar College Preparatory Academy and Alderson, Ervin, and Hodges elementary schools are under the LPN umbrella.

How a New Innovation Zone Will Bring Big-World Opportunities to Students in 3 Rural Texas Districts

Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state. In the 2015-16 school year, rural schools, as classified by the Texas Education Agency, accounted for 459 of the 1,247 school districts in Texas. Having the privilege to lead school systems in rural Texas, we deeply appreciate the advantages of being part of a rural community.

The school district is the heartbeat of the community — the place we host community functions, celebrate student accomplishments, and sometimes even hold memorials for beloved community members. We are one of the largest employers in town, often hiring multiple members from a single family.

Texas school districts create Rural Schools Innovation Zone

In a pioneering new partnership, three districts in South Texas are joining forces to create a first-of-its-kind initiative to improve educational opportunities for their rural students.

The school boards of Brooks County, Freer, and Premont Independent School Districts have voted to participate in the new Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ), which will initially consist of four schools: Falfurrias Junior High School, Falfurrias High School, Freer High School, and Premont Collegiate High School.

Educators, leaders and trustees in these Texas districts share a belief that students from rural communities should have increased opportunity to receive expert instruction and prepare for challenging career paths on the way to postsecondary success.

Will a partnership with Texas Wesleyan create high-achieving schools in Fort Worth?

A new education partnership between Fort Worth schools and Texas Wesleyan University aims to sustain academic gains made at five campuses that long struggled with low ratings.

If the project gets final approval, Texas Wesleyan will operate and manage five Fort Worth campuses under the new Leadership Academy Network starting next school year. But the five schools will remain Fort Worth schools, will be staffed by district teachers and will serve about 3,000 students who live in the district.

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