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Westcare Recast Ep. 13

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Texas State Representative Hopes to End STAAR Testing

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A Texas state representative has filed a bill to eliminate the STAAR test.

Rep. Brooks Landgraf of Odessa authored House Bill 736 in an attempt to repeal the use of the STAAR test from being used as high-stakes, one-sized-fits-all substitutes for real accountability measures.

The bill was filed Jan. 10 with a note: “Relating to eliminating the requirement to use public school assessment instruments as a criterion for promotion or graduation or to make certain accountability determinations.”

Landgraf said the state should value teaching over testing.

“The state’s attempt to ensure academic readiness and hold school districts accountable for student achievement through standardized state-wide testing has failed,” Landgraf said.

“A state-wide assessment instrument places too great of a burden on our students and teachers. Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” so that the largest number of students can achieve scores that meet the minimum level of satisfaction,” said Landgraf in a news release. “This destroys any opportunity for teachers to come up with creative ways for students to learn, and limits the amount of time and attention teachers can pay to specific students.:

Landgraf added rather than looking at the work a student has done over a semester or school year, the test looks at one day. Rather than assessing growth of students with special needs or the level of intelligence of the most gifted and talented students, the test is designed to assess the average student’s understanding of basic curriculum.

“In my view, we should value teaching over testing,” Landgraf said. “This bill will allow us to get back to the basics of education so that Texas students are prepared for college, the workforce or the military when they graduate.”

The 86th Texas legislative session is underway and will run through May 27. To read the bill, go here.

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New IT Program at Sam Houston is First in the City

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Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School will debut in 2019 as the only Pathways in Technology Early College High School in San Antonio.

The program, according to San Antonio School District, will have a focus on preparing students with the skills, credentials and an industry-specific associate degree necessary for high-wage, high-demand careers in cybersecurity.

Under the model, within four to six years, students will be able to earn a high school diploma, an associate degree, a two-year post-secondary certificate or industry certification, and complete work-based training through internships, apprenticeships or other job-training programs.

The program at Sam Houston High School will be a school within a school model. Applications will be accepted Nov. 26 – Feb. 8 from incoming 9th grade students throughout Bexar County for the 2019-2020 school year. It will ultimately become a full 9-12th grade high school, with a new grade being phased in each year.

The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 22 in 2017, paving the way for school districts to work with the Texas Education Agency to launch P-TECH programs. In the P-TECH model, schools partner with Texas institutions of higher education and regional businesses and industries, giving students post-secondary education and workforce training opportunities.

Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston will partner with St. Philip’s College, within the Alamo Colleges District, pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. St. Philip’s College has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Through St. Philip’s, Cyber P-TECH students will have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist degree. The degree will prepare students to design, implement and secure computer networks. Students with this degree will be able to install security software, monitor networks for security breaches, respond to cyber-attacks and gather data and evidence to be used in prosecuting cybercrime.

As early as students’ second year in the program, they will be able to earn an Information Technology industry certification. As high school juniors, they will have the opportunity to earn CompTIA Linux and CompTIA Security certifications. By the fall of their senior year, they will be able to earn an Information Technology Cybersecurity Specialist Level 1 certificate. As early as the spring of their senior year, students can earn associate degrees specifically tied to the cybersecurity industry.

To learn more, go here.

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San Antonio Students Win National Math Competition

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A group of four San Antonio  girls, called “Little Figures,” have recently garnered media attention for their winning math video that won a national competition this past May.

The four-person team, Breanna Hutchison, Londyn Hall, Iman Zakaria, and Lindsey Simmons, competed against hundreds of other students across the United States in The Math Video Challenge, which empowers students to take their math and problem-solving skills to the next level with a creative video project. The San Antonio team got to travel to Washington, D.C. for the MATHCOUNTS banquet to get their winning trophies and scholarships.

For the project, students have to work together to create a video that explains the solution to a problem and demonstrates a real-world application of the math concept. Combining art, writing, math, acting and technology, this program makes learning math interactive and fun for students.

The “Little Figures” team created their five-minute video based off of the “Hidden Figures” movie, the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program. Recently, the “Little Figures” team got the privilege to meet Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of the “Hidden Figures” book at St. Philip’s College for its September President’s Lecture. The “Little Figures” team is also a part of the San Antonio chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers Jr.

The “Little Figures” team isn’t taking a break. They are working on the sequel to hopefully win the competition again for 2019.

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