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Summer 2008

INSIGHT Pioneer Plaza • Dallas,, Texas

TASA/TASB Convention • September 26–28, 2008 • Dallas Convention Center

We know that great schools have great teachers. But how do we find them? Or, better yet, how do we grow them ourselves? And once they become great teachers, how do we keep them? We’ll give you the answers to these questions at the 2008 PDK International’s Summit on High-Performing Educators November 13-15 in San Antonio. International presenters coupled with roundtable discussions will encourage dialogue that will answer one of education’s most critical questions: What makes a great teacher?

You won’t want to miss these valuable sessions: Defining the Good Teacher for the Future, led by Barnett Berry, founder and president of the Center for Teaching Quality, Inc., and Marguerite Izzo, 2007 New York State Teacher of the Year Using Behavior-Based Interviewing to Hire Highly Qualified Teachers, led by Mary C. Clement, associate professor of teacher education at Berry College How Great Teachers Use Assessments — A keynote address by Thomas Guskey, Distinguished Service Professor at Georgetown College The 40th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll Presentation — An inside look at the public’s perceptions of our schools presented by William Bushaw, executive director, PDK International

The 2008 PDK International Summit on High-Performing Educators: What Makes a Great Teacher? November 13-15, 2008 Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, Texas Register at

Register by October 12 and save $50!

Summer 2008 Volume 23

No. 2 FEATURED Articles Competitiveness Council Unveils Recommendations to Governor


Highlights a recently submitted report from the Governor’s Competitiveness Council to Governor Rick Perry that identifies five areas on which Texas should focus competitive efforts; includes K–12 recommendations New Programs Encourage Students to Study Engineering in High School and Beyond


by Kenneth R. Dickerson Discusses the new four-by-four requirement, engineering as an option for fourth-year science because of its project-based approach and real-world relevance, and new opportunities for students and teachers Texas STEM Centers (T-STEM): Working to Improve STEM Education across Texas


Compiled and edited by Michael Odell and Teresa Kennedy Discusses the goals and activities of T-STEM Centers, which are addressing the challenges of tomorrow’s technology-driven economy by researching, developing, and supporting best practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for K–12 Texas–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (T-STEM) Centers


Provides information at a glance on the seven T-STEM Centers throughout the state, including locations, areas of specialty, key partners, and contacts; as well as information on grants to be awarded for additional science, technology, engineering, and math academies Keeping That First-Day-of-School Excitement throughout the Year with Ongoing PR


by Brad Domitrovich Identifies various ways in which schools can keep communication efforts from fizzling out

Be sure to visit TASA’s platinum and gold partners on pages 40–50. SUMMER 2008


Departments President’s Message


Executive Director’s View


NEW! Legal Insights


Officers Rick Howard, President, Comanche ISD John Folks, President-Elect, Northside ISD H. John Fuller, Vice-President, Wylie ISD Thomas E. Randle, Past President, Lamar CISD

Executive Committee

TASA Headquarters Staff Johnny L. Veselka

Executive Director

Associate Executive Director, Administrative Services

Assistant Executive Director, Communications & Information Systems


Anne Harpe

Editorial Coordinator

Karen Limb

Paul L. Whitton, Jr. Ann M. Halstead

INSIGHT is published quarterly by the Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701-2617. Subscription is included in TASA membership dues. © 2008 by TASA. All rights reserved. TASA members may reprint articles in limited quantities for in-house educational use. Articles in INSIGHT are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of TASA. Advertisements do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the Texas Association of School Administrators. INSIGHT is printed by Thomas Graphics, Austin, Texas.

Michael Sandroussi, Edcouch-Elsa ISD, 1 Henry D. Herrera, Alice ISD, 2 Larry W. Nichols, Calhoun County ISD, 3 Leland Williams, Dickinson ISD, 4 Philip Welch, Orangefield ISD, 5 Mike Cargill, Bryan ISD, 6 Mary Ann Whiteker, Hudson ISD, 7 Eddie Johnson, Harts Bluff ISD, 8 John Baker, Seymour ISD, 9 Jeff N. Turner, Coppell ISD, 10 Jerry W. Roy, Lewisville ISD, 11 Rod Townsend, Hico ISD, 12 Ryder F. Warren, Marble Falls ISD, 13 Kent LeFevre, Jim Ned CISD, 14 Russ F. Perry, Nueces Canyon CISD, 15 David G. Foote, Dalhart ISD, 16 Mike Motheral, Sundown ISD, 17 Rudy Barreda, Tornillo ISD, 19 Richard A. Middleton, North East ISD, 20 Kay E. Waggoner, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Legislative Committee Chair

At-Large Members Jesus H. Chavez, Round Rock ISD Alton L. Frailey, Katy ISD Gloria Gallegos, Pasadena ISD Gaile B. Thompson, Abilene ISD

Editorial Advisory Committee Rick Howard, Comanche ISD, chair Jesus H. Chavez, Round Rock ISD Jeff N. Turner, Coppell ISD Kay Waggoner, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Ryder F. Warren, Marble Falls ISD Leland Williams, Dickinson ISD






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If Not Us, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?

O President’s Message Find your voice to lead discussions within your circles of influence with a new vigor and passion to transform our present school bureaucracy into high powered learning organizations.

n July 4, 1776, the authors of this nation’s Declaration of Independence united to express the sources of their discontent about the bureaucratic tyranny of the British monarchy and asserted their unalienable right and duty to institute a new form of government. Though they felt a moral imperative for action, they didn’t embark on it lightly or transiently. Thomas Jefferson said they didn’t do it to find new principles or arguments, to say new things never said before, or to develop new or original sentiments. Neither did they intend to copy previous writings, “but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.” Two hundred and thirty years later, 35 of your TASA colleagues embarked on a 15-month experiment of our own. United in discontent with the present bureaucratic school structure principally designed by politicians, business leaders, and policy advisors rather than superintendents, principals, teachers, students, parents, and school board members, we too find a moral imperative for action. Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas is a statement of beliefs we “hold to be self-evident.” It is offered to you in terms “plain and firm” enough to encourage your assent, support, and use in engaging all stakeholders of public education in a new dialog based on relevant and timely beliefs, principles, and premises. Please review both the Declaration of Independence and Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. Find your voice to lead discussions within your circles of influence with a new vigor and passion to transform our present school bureaucracy into high powered learning organizations. Let’s unite to become the leading force in changing a system of autopsies and referees being run by remote control from Austin and Washington to one that engages the digital learner; taps student curiosity and imagination; provides opportunities for all talents to be cultivated, nurtured, and valued; and prepares students to be successful in the 21st century. To do so will require the grassroots support of local community leaders and citizens. Now is the time to engage them! Your 2008–09 officers and executive committee and the outstanding TASA staff stand ready to support you in all your endeavors this year. We look forward to seeing you in Dallas for the TASA/TASB Convention and will be eager to serve you throughout the year in any way possible. Best wishes for a great school year,

To view the Public Education Visioning Institute’s document Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas please visit TASA online at



PD 360

The Leader in On-Demand Professional Development “Our district was focusing our staff development efforts on classroom instruction, but our teachers were asking for more modeling and explanation than we were currently providing using traditional staff development environments. We were also trying to address the “one size doesn’t fit all” feedback from teachers who wanted staff development to be more differentiated. When we found PD 360, we felt it would allow us to address these concerns and move our current staff development to a whole new level. So far, PD 360 has exceeded our expectations.”

– Dr. Butch Sloan Executive Director of School Improvement Garland Independent School District (Texas)


Call the School Improvement Network at 800-572-1153 or visit for a free trial and more information.

Transforming Our Public Schools


ne of the premises guiding TASA’s Legislative Program is that legislation impacting public schools should support a rigorous, comprehensive educational program that includes consideration for the development of strong academic, vocational, and social knowledge and skills.

Executive director’s VIEW The excitement of a new school year accents the important work of TASA members throughout the state.

Recently, the Governor’s Competitiveness Council, charged with formulating recommendations to enhance the state’s economic footing in emerging industry clusters, published its report, citing specific recommendations regarding talent development, innovation, infrastructure, resources, and governance. The council focused its K–12 recommendations on college and workforce readiness; preparation programs for all teachers, including math and science teachers; expanding the T-STEM initiative; and enhancing career and technical education courses. In this issue, we are pleased to share the key elements of that report and the ongoing work related to improving educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We begin with an overview of activities to enhance engineering programs, supported by HB 2978. These include summer programs for middle and high school students, the development of an engineering course for high school students, college scholarships, and special training opportunities for secondary teachers. In this regard, the efforts by the Association of Engineering Advisory Boards to obtain support for these programs should be applauded. We also highlight the work of the Texas STEM Centers that are part of the T-STEM Initiative. The seven centers are designed to assist school districts with the important task of improving student performance in science and mathematics, developing innovative teaching materials that integrate engineering and technology concepts in the curriculum and provide teacher and administrator training. On the following pages, you will find valuable information about the unique expertise available through each of these centers. Over the past two years, we have been privileged to assist in coordinating the work of the Public Education Visioning Institute to create a new vision for public education in Texas. The institute participants have produced a working document (available at that has already stimulated dialogue and questions regarding the next steps in transforming our public schools in the digital learning environment in which we live and work. A new quarterly column debuting in this issue is “Legal Insights,” written by TASA General Counsel Neal Adams and Jerry Bullard. Their premier column focuses on “Honoraria in the Public Sector.” Future columns will address other ethical considerations of importance to superintendents and other TASA members. The excitement of a new school year accents the important work of TASA members throughout the state. We wish each of you a successful year and, to that end, we are ready to assist you through our services and support. Please let us know when we can help.





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c i l n u o C s s e n e v i t i t CompeUnveils Recommendations to Governor


n November 2007, Governor Rick Perry established the Governor’s Competitiveness Council and charged it with formulating recommendations to enhance the state’s economic footing in emerging industry clusters in Texas. The council, chaired by Michael Williams, submitted its recommendations to Governor Perry in August. The council’s report identifies five areas on which Texas should focus competitive efforts: • Talent Development: Equip the state’s education and workforce systems to adequately prepare Texans for jobs demanded in the global economy. • Innovation: Support innovation and entrepreneurial activities and increase the rate of commercialization of discoveries to attract foreign investment, increase productivity, and generate economic expansion.

• Infrastructure: Build and maintain reliable energy and transportation infrastructures that allow efficient response to market demand, delivery of products to the market, minimization of costs, and efficient operation. • Resources: Develop diversification of energy and natural resources to limit dependency on overseas producers. • Governance: Maintain laws that are fair, predictable, and minimal; require state agencies to act with speed and fairness; and spend tax dollars efficiently. The report addresses the state’s “talent development” gaps as follows: “Stakeholders across the state warned that if the state’s talent development system—which consists of basic education (K–12), community and technical colleges, universities, and workforce development—does not make critical changes at every level to ensure a dependable



workforce is available, Texas will not remain a high quality place for doing business.

The council’s K–12 recommendations include: Ensure Students Graduate College- and Workforce-Ready The essential knowledge and skills required to graduate high school college- and workforceready are the same and should be taught to all students at the appropriate grade level. To ensure all students graduate college- and workforce-ready, Texas must adopt clear, grade-level specific curriculum standards that incorporate the recently adopted college readiness standards. Schools must be held accountable each year for ensuring students are on path to achieve college and workforce readiness by graduation and for the number of ninth-grade students who complete high school and enroll in, and complete, postsecondary education. As part of this effort, Texas should especially focus on improving student performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and maintaining or enhancing the requirement that students take a fourth year of math and science in high school. Better Prepare All Teachers, Including Math and Science Teachers We must support our hardworking teachers by ensuring all teacher preparation programs are high quality and are held accountable for student performance. Texas should link incentive funding for institutions of higher education with student performance. Texas should also continue current public education incentive programs that reward teachers with performance bonuses for student achievement. There are currently four Texas institutions of higher education with UTeach programs, a high quality National Academies of Scienceendorsed program designed to increase the number of quality, subject matter-trained teachers in the classroom, thereby improving teacher retention rates and student outcomes. Texas should expand this model to other institutions of higher education or take



other action to improve teacher preparation outcomes that influence STEM learning. Develop Model Curricula Texas has uniform K–12 curriculum standards. However, great disparity exists in the way the standards are implemented and taught among the more than 1,040 school districts. Texas needs to develop or identify model curricula and teaching practices, particularly in the STEM courses. The model curriculum and teaching practices should incorporate college and workforce readiness standards as well as rigorous applied-learning components. Texas should share the model curricula and teacher practices with school districts and teacher-preparation programs and encourage their use. Expand T-STEM Program Texas needs to build upon its recent success in STEM education by creating quality linkages between its Texas STEM (T-STEM) Initiative and local districts. This would include developing more T-STEM academies and centers, as well as enhancing the Web-based portal to easily share resources and connect stakeholders across the state. To ensure quality control, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) should create an accreditation process for T-STEM, outlining the essential components of a quality STEM school, and allow any interested campus or district to apply for recognition or official designation. In addition, Texas should enhance the capacity of T-STEM centers so that more teachers can receive professional development services and should collaborate with the private sector to design industry-appropriate professional development modules. Finally, the centers’ capacity should be improved to identify, facilitate, and replicate industrylinked applied-learning partnerships at existing STEM campuses as well as non-STEM campuses. Enhance Career and Technical Education (CTE) Courses Texas should revise the CTE course curriculum requirements to ensure they are relevant

to current and emerging occupations and include college and workforce readiness standards. Improving the rigor of these courses will ensure students obtain the skills needed for gainful employment upon graduation while providing high quality course options. Expand Initiatives That Enable Students to Learn and Explore Opportunities in Industries with High Career Growth Potential Texas should continue the Texas Youth in Technology Initiative, (the Initiative) which funds a broad array of programs to increase postsecondary enrollment, retention, and graduates in engineering and computer science. Working with the Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium (TETC), the Initiative increases collaboration between Texas employers, institutions of higher education, and engineering and science departments. The state should also continue to expand the Governor’s Summer Merit Program camps targeted at inspiring students to focus on STEM careers. Provide Online Career Development Tools Texas should provide better online career-, college-, and work-planning programs to students. The programs should allow students to plan and monitor their progress from middle school through postsecondary education. These tools should provide career information and strategies, educational modules, e-learning programs, comprehensive reporting, all-inclusive postsecondary and training program readiness and application  information, and career exploration.

To view the full report, go to

The Governor’s Competitiveness Council The 28-member council includes: ■ Charles Thomas (Tom) Burbage, executive vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company ■ James M. Epperson Jr., president, AT&T Texas ■ P. Gayle Fallon, president, Houston Federation of Teachers ■ Michael S. Greene, CEO, Luminant ■ Johnny Edwin Lovejoy II, president and CEO, Lovejoy and Associates ■ Gray Mayes, director of public affairs, Texas Instruments Inc. ■ Ronald N. McMillan, regional vice president of governmental affairs (Texas), Time Warner Cable ■ Zebulun Nash, site manager, ExxonMobil Chemical Company ■ Joseph I. O’Neill III, managing partner, O’Neill Properties Ltd. ■ Kip G. Thompson, vice president of global facilities and strategic growth, Dell Inc.

Jeffrey L. Wade, executive vice president and general counsel, Lexicon Genetics Inc. ■ Paul Zmigrosky, vice president of procurement and logistics, Frito-Lay Ex-Officio Elected Officials include: ■ Susan Combs, comptroller, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts ■ Todd Staples, commissioner, Texas Department of Agriculture ■ Michael Williams, chair, Texas Railroad Commission ■ Don McLeroy, chair, State Board of Education

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Ex-Officio Public and Higher Education Officials include: ■ Phil Wilson (chair), Texas Secretary of State ■ Aaron Demerson, executive director, Governor’s Division of Economic Development and Tourism

Buddy Garcia, presiding officer, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Sandy Kress, chair, Commission for a College Ready Texas Ron Lehman, commissioner, Texas Workforce Commission Charles E. McMahen, chair, Governor’s Business Council Bill Morrow, presiding officer, Texas Emerging Technology Fund Raymund Paredes, commissioner, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Robert P. Scott, commissioner, Texas Education Agency Barry Smitherman, chair, Texas Public Utility Commission John W. Sylvester Jr., chair, Texas Workforce Investment Council Bob Wingo, chair, Texas Economic Development Corporation






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L e a r n i n g Te c h n o l o g y

New Programs

at Austin Marsha Miller/The University of Texas

E n g y i d n u t e S e r o t i s n t n e g d u t S e g a r u o c En in High School and Beyond

By Kenneth R. Dickerson


hen he was a high school student, Scott Berry had no idea what an engineer was. Now a licensed engineer and high school teacher, Berry tries to ensure that every student at Austin’s Lake Travis High School has the opportunity to learn exactly what engineers do and how math and science that they study in school apply to the complex projects that engineers tackle every day, from building bridges, roads, and waste water systems to programming robotics and searching for natural resources. Berry, who has seen his class enrollment grow steadily since its inception, attributes the appeal of high school engineering classes to their project-based approach and realworld relevance. “Especially in math, it’s hard for kids to see a real reason for it, but the engineering courses provide a bridge— they won’t just take our word for it that it has

an application, but they believe it when they can see it directly.” Helping young people see those connections and discover the possibilities of engineering is what Berry’s work is all about. New Opportunities for Texas Students Scott Berry is part of a growing trend among engineering professionals working to improve educational opportunities for, and college readiness among, Texas students. While only a small fraction of these professionals go so far as to leave engineering for the classroom, hundreds more are working behind the scenes to support state efforts to improve education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We have to make middle school and high school students aware of the opportunities



available to people with engineering and computer science degrees, and we have to ensure that high school graduates are prepared to succeed in these fields. That is why my colleagues and I applaud state efforts such as the new four-by-four and House Bill 2978. Texas House Bill 2978, enacted under the leadership of Representative Geanie Morrison, chair of the House Higher Education Committee, supports STEM opportunities from middle school through college. The bill, passed unanimously in 2007, authorizes funding for engineering summer programs for middle and high school students, as well as scholarships for highly qualified students who elect to study engineering or computer science at a state university. Summer Programs for Middle and High School Students The summer programs authorized by House Bill 2978 began in 2007. Twelve schools of engineering across the state offered one-week in-residence programs for middle and high school students interested in experiencing engineering firsthand. More than 665 students participated in the program’s first year. If you are interested in learning more about these summer programs and how your students can benefit from them, please contact one of the 2008 participating programs (list available at PDF/1452.PDF) for more information. High School Engineering and the Fourby-Four As implementation of the new four-by-four requirement begins, many districts are considering engineering as an option for fourthyear science. One group estimates that the state will need as many as 1,000 certified teachers of engineering within the next few years. A number of programs across the state are working to prepare secondary teachers of engineering, including the following: UTeachEngineering is a new initiative of The University of Texas Cockrell School



of Engineering and the UTeach Natural Sciences program. Beginning in the summer of 2009, UTeachEngineering will offer intensive six-week Engineering Summer Institutes for Teachers at UT–Austin and UT–Dallas. These innovative institutes will let teachers experience engineering firsthand while studying how students know and learn engineering concepts. For teachers ready to take the next step and become leaders in secondary engineering education, UTeachEngineering offers a three-summer Master of Arts in Science and Engineering Education. For information about either program, please contact Cheryl Farmer at 512-471-6196 or Many colleges and schools of engineering are participating members of T-STEM centers, which offer a range of professional development opportunities ranging in length from one day to one week. For more information, please visit the Texas High School Project Web site at px?portalId=274785&pageId=324846. Scholarships for College Students As your high school seniors weigh their options, they may be interested to know that they could qualify for new engineering scholarships at schools across the state. In 2007–08, 345 students at 23 Texas schools of engineering received scholarships authorized under HB 2978. These awards, valued at up to $5,000 each, are eligible to entering freshmen who have graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school class, maintained a 3.5 GPA in math and science courses, and declared a major in engineering or computer science. For more information about the scholarship opportunities at a particular university, please contact that university’s school of engineering. Miles to Go Before We Rest While the four-by-four, HB 2978, and programs like UTeachEngineering and T-STEM have started Texas on the road to improving college readiness in STEM fields, much more remains to be done. Critical to success in

this undertaking will be legislative funding, teacher education, and local school board and school district willingness to add engineering courses. The Texas Legislature, motivated in part by an estimated $23 billion benefit to the Texas economy as a result of raising college engineering graduation rates by 25 percent, has been very supportive of efforts to improve STEM education in secondary and postsecondary education. The AEAB, which worked with the legislature in support of HB 2978, will return to the legislature in 2009 with specific requests for increased support of these successful programs. In particular, AEAB will seek the following funding: • $2 million per year for summer engineering programs to impact 2,000 middle and high school students • $2 million per year for teacher professional development in engineering education to impact 500 in-service educators • $12 million per year for student scholarships to impact thousands of university students in engineering and computer science For more information about AEAB legislative initiatives, please contact Ken Dickerson at As legislative support for funding of engineering education programs continues to grow, higher education and associated organizations will continue to work with teachers, school administrators, district administrators, and trustees across the state to spread the word about the importance of these programs and to make educators aware of the opportunities available to them and their students. We hope that you will join us in making Texas a national leader in STEM  education.

Kenneth R. Dickerson is chairman of the Association of Engineering Advisory Boards.

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S T E T M ( s r ) e t : n e C M E T S s a Tex Working to Improve STEM Education across Texas

Compiled and edited by Michael Odell and Teresa Kennedy


exas STEM Centers are part of the Texas STEM Initiative (T-STEM). T-STEM is a $71 million initiative designed to improve instruction and academic performance in science- and mathematics-related subjects in high schools across Texas. The project aims to more closely align the high school curriculum with admission requirements of colleges and universities in Texas, including the qualifications needed to succeed at today’s high-wage, high-demand, and high-skill careers. T-STEM is implemented through the Texas High School Project (THSP), a multimillion dollar public-private initiative committed to increasing graduation rates and college enrollment rates in every Texas community. THSP partners include the Texas Education Agency, the Office of the Governor, the

Communities Foundation of Texas, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, National Instruments, legislators, educators, and others. The philanthropic investments are managed primarily by the Communities Foundation of Texas and funded through public resources provided by TEA. The resources dedicated to THSP support new and redesigned high schools, educator training and development, and specific programs designed to help students get ready for college. THSP’s approach creates learning environments where students build relationships with educators, are challenged with rigorous lessons, and are motivated by subjects made relevant to their lives.



What Are T-STEM Centers? In 2006, the Texas Education Agency funded five T-STEM Centers with two more added in 2007. T-STEM Centers are tasked with supporting T-STEM academies and all Texas schools by designing innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curricula; delivering professional development; and creating strategic partnerships among businesses, higher education entities, and school districts. Each center operates in collaboration with a minimum of five partners that include a college or university, a school district, a business, a nonprofit organization with an education or workforce focus, and an informal institution such as a museum or zoo. These partners contribute added depth and expertise to each T-STEM Center.

Goals of T-STEM Centers The centers are designed to assist districts, particularly those with high-need schools, to improve student performance in the areas of science and mathematics and to prepare students for college and entry into STEM professions. Specifically, these T-STEM Centers will develop innovative teaching materials that integrate engineering and technology concepts into the curriculum and provide training for teachers and administrators. The centers have also established a statewide network that can share promising practices with all Texas schools. The six specific goals of the T-STEM Centers are: • Align high school, postsecondary education, and economic development activities in STEM areas with the broader high school curriculum • Lead the transformation of teaching methods, teacher preparation, and instruction in STEM areas • Demonstrate how the implementation of T-STEM teaching and learning increases the number of Texas high school students from diverse backgrounds graduating prepared to succeed in postsecondary study and careers in STEM-related fields • Train administrators, principals, and teachers in effective leadership strategies for supporting T-STEM instruction



The T-STEM Centers T-STEM Centers are located at universities and regional education service centers throughout Texas. The seven centers are: East Texas STEM Center: University of Texas at Tyler, partnering with Texas A&M Texarkana; ESC Regions 5, 6, 7, and 8; Texas Project Lead the Way; and rural East Texas school districts El Centro del Futuro STEM Center of South Texas: ESC Region 1 in Edinburg, partnering with the University of Texas–Pan American, 13 school districts, and The University of Texas–Dana Center El Paso T-STEM Center: UT–El Paso, partnering with 12 school districts in the El Paso area and ESC Region 19 in El Paso North Texas STEM Center: Texas A&M University, partnering with Dallas ISD and ESC Region 10 in Richardson Southeast Regional T-STEM Center: University of Texas Medical Branch, partnering with Rice University; Texas State University; NASA; ESC Regions 3, 4, and 5; and the Houston Museum of Natural Science Texas Tech T-STEM Center: Texas Tech University, partnering with Lubbock ISD and ESC Regions 15, 16, 17, and 18, which are housed in San Angelo, Amarillo, Lubbock, and Midland Transformation 2013: ESC Region 13 in Austin, partnering with ESC Region 20 in San Antonio, UT–Austin College of Engineering, San Antonio ISD, and Taylor ISD

• Disseminate promising practices and research-based strategies for integrated STEM teaching and learning • Improve student achievement outcomes in mathematics and science and increase the number of students who pursue postsecondary studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics Each T-STEM Center has developed its own unique expertise. Districts seeking to find assistance for their local STEM needs can contact their local area center or the center that is the best fit for their local needs.

T-STEM Center Activities The East Texas STEM Center (ETXSC) focuses on assisting rural school districts across Texas to improve STEM teaching and provide real-world STEM experiences for students in rural areas. In addition to work-

ing with T-STEM academies, the East Texas Center provides professional development and technical assistance to school districts interested in improving STEM education. The center is focused on preparing teachers to develop students who are ready to pursue STEM degrees in college. The professional development model of the ETXSC is a long-term model where schools commit to examining vertical curriculum alignment and professional development throughout the academic year and summer, and implementing data-driven decision making. The center makes extensive use of the Survey of Enacted Curriculum, developed by the University of Wisconsin, to help STEM teachers prepare students for college through vertical curriculum alignment. The center also offers a variety of online professional development for teachers in rural schools providing greater access to cutting-edge services and materials. The center is also implementing the GLOBE

Program to provide teacher support for student research projects with a global perspective. The center also launched its Research Involving Student Engineers (RISE) Program during the summer of 2008. Students from across the state worked with engineers and computer scientists to develop satellites to be launched on high-altitude weather balloons. Students will launch, track, and recover their satellites in January 2009.

trainers institutes, thus expanding the capacity of the center to deliver professional development. The NTSTEM Center is involved in several other projects, including research related to work of the center; a book under contract with SENSE Publishing on projectbased learning; video production related to marketing PBL and the work of the center; and software development related to PBL.

The North Texas STEM Center (NTSTEM) conducts research and creates and provides research-based professional development and other services for high-quality secondarylevel STEM teaching and learning. The mission of the center is transforming lives by catalyzing deep and replicable transformation of mathematics and science education through innovative, action-planning oriented, research-based, and enterprise-focused design. Activities of the center over the last year included conducting and supporting two conferences. These included the TAMU Teacher Summit and the STEM North

The Southeast Regional T-STEM Center (SRT-Center) is the only T-STEM Center located in a major biomedical research and health sciences center. The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) employs a wide variety of individuals in STEMrelated careers and is also a major educator of students in the health and biomedical sciences, preparing them for these careers. To take advantage of these and other education resources, the SRT-STEM Center has developed the following specialty areas: (1)

Texas Conference. A number of T-STEM academies provided sessions and also were participants at these conferences. Another activity the NTSTEM Center supported recently was the ISWEEP (International Sustainable Energy) Conference for international robotics competition hosted at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. NTSTEM professors served as judges for this international competition. The NTSTEM Center conducts trainer of

expertise in biomedical, health, and space biomedical sciences programs for teachers and students; (2) student pipeline programs for development of STEM expertise and a unique tracking system for student program participants as they pursue careers; (3) career classroom connections Web site; and (4) interdisciplinary STEM project-based learning activities. As an integral part of UTMB, the SRT-STEM Center recognizes that all modern science is interdisciplinary.


The El Centro del Futuro STEM Center in ESC Region 1 provides professional development and technical support to school districts and charter school systems in the areas of math, science, technology, engineering integration, and CTE. A major focus of all services from El Centro del Futuro includes the integration of strategies in teaching English language learners. Working with regional partners, El Centro del Futuro has involved students, teachers, and administrators in STEM-related professional development opportunities to increase awareness and understanding of careers and applications for engineering and science. The El Centro del Futuro staff has worked on many specialized projects designed to meet the needs of individual districts and campuses in such projects as TEA-funded intensive summer programs grant; statewide science training for charter schools; turnaround math and science training for schools in need of improvement; and special projects that involve GEAR UP, Texas Instruments, Vernier, and NAMMERRII partners. ESC Region 1 also established a state-of-the-art STEM classroom for El Centro del Futuro, which allows teachers to be trained in STEM fields and also brings students into a learning environment that fully integrates technology and engineering with math and science.

science teachers throughout the academic year to improve their content and pedagogical content knowledge in the STEM disciplines. In addition, teachers are utilizing student work samples to analyze effective teaching, which leads to improved student learning.

The El Paso T-STEM Center is dedicated to building capacity of middle and high school teachers, as well as district and school administrators, to implement and support rigorous, standards-based STEM teaching and learning for all students. The center launched the 2008â&#x20AC;&#x201C;09 EP T-STEM Professional Development Program during summer of 2008. The center is facilitating teams of middle and high school mathematics and



As such, the center is developing interdisciplinary, integrated units for high school and middle school levels. These activities will help educators to “build bridges between academic disciplines” and require students to “think across disciplines” while still achieving mandated instructional requirements within their subject area. The center’s work is being realized using a dual approach that involves both professional development experiences for administrators and educators as well as STEM enrichment experiences for students. The Texas Tech T-STEM Center covers the largest geographical area of any of the seven T-STEM Centers. The center draws on a large pool of experts in education and the sciences at Texas Tech and their partners to provide the resources and services required by TEA. One of the primary areas of focus for the center is engineering design. Texas Tech University T-STEM Center trains teachers to use engineering design in teaching

applied mathematics, science, and technology. Engineering projects provide a practical context for STEM concepts to be applied creatively as empowering methods to address relevant human problems. The center has found that engineering’s emphasis on problem solving provides an excellent context for teaching critical thinking and communication skills. And because engineers apply mathematics and science to resolve practical problems, engineering provides an engaging way to illustrate difficult concepts in these areas—as opposed to teaching these concepts in the abstract, as is too often the case. Transformation 2013 is a collaborative effort between ESC Regions 13 and 20 and their partners. The center’s vision is to provide the highest-quality professional development, curriculum, and outreach programs, emphasizing hands-on problem-based learning to create superior STEM students. Transformation 2013 provides contempo-

rary, research-based professional development and instructional materials to support K–12 educators and education leaders in their quests to improve student achievement and prepare all students to be college-ready. Professional development for educators and education leaders plays an important role in improving K–12 student achievement in STEM instruction. Transformation 2013’s professional development offerings are committed to promoting best practices in rigorous, relevant, real-world instructional methods. Every professional development session focuses on strong pedagogy and rigorous content aligned to Texas state standards. Transformation 2013 provides educators with opportunities to strengthen pedagogy and content, and design instruction that allows students to meet the STEM challenge.

T-STEM Collaborative Activities In addition to the local activities of each T-STEM Center, there are a number of collaborative activities that are available to school districts. Each spring, the centers host a Best Practice Conference for teachers across Texas and are also planning an annual policy symposium. In 2009, the centers are launching a research journal to document the innovations and best practices that are emerging across the state.  Dr. Michael Odell is executive director of the East Texas STEM Center and director of the School of Education, professor of STEM Education, and the Sam and Celia Roosth Chair in Science Education at The University of Texas at Tyler. Dr. Teresa Kennedy is deputy director of NASA’s GLOBE Program at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Boulder, Colorado.

Project staff from the T-STEM Centers will be participating in the January TASA Midwinter Conference.





System 44

The breakthrough foundational reading program for our most challenged readers in Grades 3-12 Developed by Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams and Dr. Ted Hasselbring, System 44 was designed for our most challenged older, struggling readers. Many of these students are demotivated and disenfranchised from school as a result of years of academic failure. Intentionally metacognitive, System 44 helps students understand that the English language is a finite system of 44 sounds and 26 letters that can be mastered. The program invites students to unlock the system and join the community of readers. System 44 provides educators with a comprehensive set of tools to meet this challenge.

z y




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System 44 will be officially released on November 25th. However, if you are a current READ 180 educator, we invite you to order now and take advantage of special pre-publication benefits, including: • Pre-publication pricing a $2,500 savings off the regular price. • Early shipment (approximately August 25th) of students books, teaching materials and the Scholastic Phonics Inventory (SPI) to begin screening students and schedule trainings. • Automatic, day one shipping of System 44 software when it becomes in November. To take advantage of this offer, please contact your Scholastic Account Executive at 800-221-5312. For a FREE tour of System 44 email to receive your password.

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ring, and Ma e e n i g n E , y g o l o n h c thema ics Science, Te t Centers


Coalition of T-STEM Centers

T-STEM Centers attack the challenges of tomorrow’s technology-driven economy by researching, developing, and supporting best practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for K–12 schools. As a part of the Texas High School Project, T-STEM Centers work with T-STEM academies as well as all Texas schools to transform teaching and learning methods; improve achievement in STEM education; and ensure all students are college, career, and life ready.

Southeast Regional T-STEM Center Location

Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

■ Agent of change for STEM education systems ■ Preparation of STEM workforce ■ STEM Literacy ■ STEM Professional Development (current offerings) • Science Connections: Biology and Physics 9–12 • Math Connections: Mathematics and Science 9–12 • GIS for Schools: Exploring Real World Geospatial Problems with Math and Science • Equitable Instruction Institute: School Leadership and STEM Practices ■ STEM for the 21st Century Conference – August 4–6

■ University of Texas Medical Branch ■ Texas State University College of Education ■ Rice University ■ Houston Museum of Natural Science ■ Moody Gardens ■ Galveston College ■ Partnering School Districts, including Houston, Galveston, Cypress-Fairbanks, and La Marque

Deborah Jensen, Ph.D. Director 409-772-7970

Office of Educational Outreach 301 University Boulevard Galveston, TX 77555-0981

Denise Morris Galletti Program Assistant 409-772-7970 Web site tstem



Texas Tech T-STEM Center



Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


Texas Tech University

■ Project-Based Learning

John Chandler, Ph.D. Director

Box 43103 Lubbock, TX 79409-3103

■ Instructional Technology

■ Texas Tech University – Office of the Provost, Center for Engineering Outreach, College of Education, Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Department of Physics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Center for the Integration of Science and Education Research, The Institute of Environmental and Human Health, Museum of Texas Tech University, Outdoor School ■ Cypress Valley Education Center ■ Halliburton ■ Johnson Controls ■ Lubbock Economic Development Alliance ■ Lubbock ISD ■ ESC Regions 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 ■ Science Spectrum ■ Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering ■ Texas Business and Education Coalition ■ Texas Education Agency State Engineering and Science Recruitment Fund ■ Texas Partnership for Aeroscience Education ■ Texas Workforce Commission


■ Engineering Design ■ Professional Development • Workshops Providing learning experiences that emphasize project-based learning, inquiry, and assessment. Our teacher training workshops give teachers a standards-based professional development experience that is both innovative and fun–from biotechnology and podcasting to green engineering. See www.tstem.ttu. edu/workshops • TechTotes TechTotes provide a simpler, justin-time approach to instructional technology by providing co-op cutting-edge resources like laptop computers and robotics kits that might otherwise be beyond their students’ reach. See http://www. • Enrichment Activities Outside the classroom, extracurricular events like our South Plains Math & Science Competition give students opportunities to excel while supporting teachers’ STEM-focused instructional efforts. See http://www.

Dean Fontenot, Ph.D. Director 806-742-3451 Web site

El Centro del Futuro STEM Center of South Texas Location

Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


ESC Region 1

■ College and Career Planning ■ English Language Learners ■ Career and Technical Education ■ Technology Integration ■ Professional Development • Design and Use of STEM-Specific Curriculum • Instructional Strategies Focusing on STEM • Instructional and Analytical Technology, including Data Analysis and Instructional Management and Communication Technology

■ South Texas College ■ Texas State Technical College ■ The University of Texas–Pan American ■ Texas Instruments ■ Vernier ■ Academic Leaders Alliance ■ The University of Texas at Austin, Charles A. Dana Center

Kristin Tribett Coordinator 956-984-6222

1900 West Schunior Edinburg, TX 78541

Web site

North Texas Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (NTSTEM) Center Location

Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


Texas A&M University

■ Project-Based Learning ■ Professional Learning Communities ■ Sound Professional Development Practices ■ Engineering Design ■ Content Knowledge Teaching Mathematics Expertise

■ Dallas ISD ■ ESC Region 10 ■ DFW STEC Executive Council ■ Dallas Museum ■ Dallas Arboretum ■ Dallas Chamber of Commerce ■ Verizon ■ Texas Instruments ■ Agile Mind

Jim Scheurich, Ph.D. Project Director 979-492-9491

511 Harrington Tower MS 4226 College Station, TX 77840

Linda Stearns Coordinator 979-862-4666 Web site



East Texas STEM Center Location

Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


University of Texas at Tyler

■ Rural STEM Education ■ Engineering Design ■ Earth Systems ■ Mathematics to Support STEM ■ Vertical Alignment of STEM Curriculum ■ College Readiness ■ Program Evaluation ■ Onsite Customized Professional Development ■ Online Professional Development ■ STEM Professional Learning Communities

■ University of Texas at Tyler ■ Texas Project Lead the Way ■ The Ingenuity Center ■ ESC Regions 5, 6, 7, 8 ■ Texas A&M University at Texarkana ■ Tyler Junior College ■ Discovery Science Place ■ East Texas Workforce Board ■ The GLOBE Program ■ Pasco, Forestry Suppliers ■ 21 East Texas School Districts

Michael Odell, Ph.D. Executive Director 903-566-7149


Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


University of Texas, El Paso

■ STEM Professional Development K–16 • 7th and 8th Grade Mathematics Related to STEM and TEKS • Algebra I Related to STEM and TEKS • Science and Technology Concepts for Middle Schools • Living by Chemistry: Engaging Students in Real World Investigations Related to Properties of Matter ■ Leadership Academies • Adapting to Change: Leading Professional Learning Communities to Improve STEM Education • Using Cognitive Coaching to Improve Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning • Principals’ Leadership Academy • Instructional Coaching Seminars

■ El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence ■ University of Texas at El Paso ■ El Paso Community College ■ ESC Region 19 ■ The Texas Regional Collaboratives ■ El Paso Area School Districts ■ Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce ■ Insights Science Museum ■ Texas Business and Education Coalition ■ El Paso Inter-religious Sponsoring Organization ■ Upper Rio Grande Tech Prep

Dr. M. Susana Navarro Principal Investigator 915-747-5778

53900 University Blvd. Tyler, TX 75799

Kristian Trampus Director 903-565-5881 Web site

El Paso T-STEM Center

Education Building – Room 413 500 West University Avenue El Paso, TX 79968-0683



Dr. Alicia Parra Project Director 915-747-5778 Web site

Transformation 2013 Location

Areas of Specialty

Key Partners


ESC Region 13 5701 Springdale Road

Transformation 2013 has four specialty areas that add to the collective strength of the T-STEM Network. Overarching each is a fifth area that uniquely connects academies, partners, community, and all educators with a stake in improving student achievement. ■ STEM Professional Development • Problem-Based Learning – Working with educators to develop PBL units that are rich in content, rigorous in activities • STEM – Connecting education with industry workforce and in-depth content coverage ■ Leadership Development for Academies ■ Instructional Material Development and Alignment • ELL and Special Needs • Engineering Design Process Integrated into Math and Science ■ Instructional Coaching

■ ESC Region 13 ■ ESC Region 20 ■ Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas, Austin ■ Thomas Edison High School – San Antonio ISD ■ Taylor High School – Taylor ISD ■ National Instruments ■ IBM ■ Boston Museum of Science, National Center for Technological Literacy ■ Alamo WorkSource ■ Skillpoint Alliance

Stacy Avery Coordinator 512-919-5391

Austin, TX 78723

Web site http://www.

Grants to Be Awarded for Additional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academies TEA announced in early August that $3 million in startup grant funding is now available to establish up to six new T-STEM academies throughout the state. T-STEM academies are designed to promote student achievement in math and science so students are prepared for high-skill careers in the 21st century economy. The grant is available for campuses serving students in grades 6–12. Currently in Texas, there are 38 T-STEM academies serving about 8,000 public school students. This new startup funding will support the design and implementation of three to six new academies by August 2009 that will eventually serve an additional 2,500 students. “T-STEM academies not only prepare students for a successful future, they also serve as incubators for best practices in teaching sciences and mathematics,” said Robert Scott,

commissioner of education. “And these best practices can benefit all Texas students.” To explain the T-STEM academy concept, TEA and the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) hosted technical assistance presentations in six locations throughout Texas in September, explaining how the model works and why it is so promising.

videoconference will be the single opportunity, in a group setting, to ask clarifying questions of TEA personnel. The conference will be open to all potential applicants, and all questions asked and answered will be in the presence of all attending.

In addition, an applicant’s conference conducted via teleconference through the Texas Education Telecommunications Network (TETN) will take place on September 22 (10 a.m.–noon, TETN Event #31731). This



A Texas school district or open-enrollment charter school in Texas is eligible to apply for a grant if it serves a student population of greater than 40 percent economically disadvantaged students and has received a rating of Exemplary, Recognized, or Academically Acceptable under the 2008 state accountability rating system. Special consideration or priority will be given to applicants that serve student populations of greater than 50 percent economically disadvantaged students. The T-STEM initiative is a development of the Texas High School Project, a $326 million public-private collaboration committed to increasing graduation rates and college-enrollment rates statewide. The project’s partners include TEA, the Office of the Governor, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, educators, and others. The Communities Foundation of Texas primarily manages the philanthropic investments, and TEA man ages the public resources.



The School Administrator magazine… publishes a back-page humor column called “Leadership Lite,” and the editors are eager to solicit stories from superintendents and other administrators for possible use in 2008–09. The magazine is seeking short, humorous, or offbeat anecdotes (that generally can be told in no more than four or five paragraphs) that relate to some telling aspect of life in educational administration or the day-to-day work in a school district. Anecdotes should be based on the contributor’s own experience—something you’ve seen or heard or that’s been shared by a colleague—in a school setting, administrative office, school board meeting, educational administration course, etc. Please submit your stories to Jay P. Goldman, editor of The School Administrator, at Thank you. 


h c S o o f l o E y x a c D i t t s r i e F m t a h T ent g n i p e e K throughout the Year with Ongoing PR

by Brad Domitrovich

hen I was first approached to write this article for TASA, I contemplated offering some PR tips for the start of school. That idea changed, however, since this issue would not be published and distributed until midSeptember. So it made me start thinking about issues that hit all of us at that time. The inspiration for the topic came from my superintendent, Dr. Kevin Dyes.

sudden, there’s a focus once again. Teachers and parents are talking. A day or two later, the involvement may end. We go back to the humdrum of daily life and wait another six weeks to perhaps rekindle the spark of involvement and communication. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep that first-dayof-school excitement going throughout the year?

The first time I heard my boss say, “School doesn’t really start until the second six weeks,” it made me stop and think about his comments. The rationale was, of course, towards academics, first report cards, eligibility, and extracurricular activities. After the first few days of school, the excitement for most students, parents, and teachers diminishes. The first report card hits and “Whack!” All of a

If we look at the communications and public relations efforts for our districts, do we sometimes fall into the same trap? Before the start of school, I bet every one of us mailed out newsletters, made sure that our school supply lists were posted everywhere, and publicized when “meet the teacher night” would be. As the year progresses, do our communication efforts fizzle out?



For your public relations program to be successful, you must effectively communicate with your audience from August all the way through June. No matter what size district you hail from—there is a success story to tell each and every day. If you tell at least one success story every day, you will open channels that make it easier for you to tell a notso-positive story on those occasions when necessary. When you look at all the various ways you can communicate these days, there really isn’t a good excuse for not getting your message across in a timely fashion.

Electronic Methods In Bandera ISD, we utilize a variety of electronic methods to communicate that are fast, inexpensive, and—best of all—effective. So many of our patrons rely on the Internet for their news and information. Web site. Your Web site needs to be constantly updated. Static Webs mean sure death nowadays. Use your Web site to publicize as many success stories as you can possibly generate. Look at your Web site right now. Is there anything on the home page that is out of date? Get rid of it immediately, and put fresh content and fresh pictures to entice your audience. When we send stories to the newspaper, they can be edited, editorialized, or not printed at all. However, we are in total control of our Web sites. Every “fluff” story has the potential to be posted. Remember, as administrators, you are the ones who actually control the content of your Web. You are the editors. Principals need to share the success stories of their students and teachers with the district’s communications office. Electronic mail, newsletters, e-mail blasts. Have you used electronic mail to keep your patrons updated? Every district should have a collection of e-mail addresses of those to whom they market: parents, taxpayers, interested parties. One of the nice things about an e-mailed electronic newsletter is that you do not have to wait until you get four or six pages of news in order to send it out. Did your district use an electronic newsletter to notify patrons of their accountability ratings?



Did you use an e-mail blast as a reminder to parents when school was starting?

accomplishments are more inclined to share those positive stories with the public.

In our district, we use electronic newsletters to keep our audience informed throughout the school year. Our electronic newsletter (NewsNOW!) is sent out at least once a week. A regular issue has three feature stories with pictures. Set a regularly scheduled delivery time for your electronic newsletters—like every Tuesday, every Wednesday, or every Thursday. Try to stay away from Mondays or Fridays, unless it is an absolute necessity. A text-only version of our electronic newsletter is used as an e-mail blast for updates or emergency situations whenever we need it. E-mail blasts are great for emergency situations. We consistently utilize our electronic newsletter list and Web site when inclement weather, such as an ice storm, forces closure of our schools.

Remember that—no matter how much we communicate from the district level—the most important communication link is the teacher and the parent. Principals should always encourage their teachers to communicate with every parent on an ongoing basis. Notify parents about what’s going on in the classroom. Alert parents when a student is beginning to struggle. Tell parents that their kids are doing a great job!

Podcasts. The use of podcasts and other similar vehicles is increasing in popularity. Don’t be afraid of this new form of communication. You certainly do not have to spend a fortune furnishing a studio to do simple online broadcasts. Start easy. How about placing a video welcome from the superintendent on your Web site? How about a video welcome for new students to the district? Once you see how easy it is, create a monthly video highlighting something unique in your district. Do you have a new policy or perhaps dress code changes that need reinforcement? Why not create a short video for patrons to download?

Communications Plan School communication from a district level needs to appeal to a broad audience. Make sure that you highlight stories that will appeal to your parents, your taxpayers, and your employees. Parents have students at different grade levels, so make sure you spend as much time communicating elementary and middle school stories as you do high school stories. Taxpayers need to be on your side. They are the ones who can make or break your next bond election. Don’t forget that district employees are your best salespeople. Teachers and staff who understand district goals and

Once you develop your overall communications plan for this year, stick with it. Keep everyone updated. Make sure your patrons know that your district has success stories to tell. Stay on top of your communication efforts. Just pretend that every day is the first  day of the school year.

Brad Domitrovich leads the communications and public relations office at Bandera ISD, a rural school district located approximately 30 minutes west of San Antonio. He also serves as 2008–09 president of the Texas School Public Relations Association. He can be reached at 830-796-6204 or by e-mail, bdomitrovich@

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Legal Insights Honoraria in the Public Sector A superintendent lives each day in a fishbowl, with the entire world looking in, as evidenced by myriad state laws, state regulations, and board policies that prohibit or otherwise target conflicts of interest. This area of the law is currently evolving and changing. During the past two legislative sessions, the Texas Legislature has promulgated laws addressing conflicts of interest and conflict disclosure obligations. However, one obligation that has not been affected by recent legislative enactments, but is often overlooked, is the prohibition against the receipt of certain honoraria. As a general rule, public servants have been prohibited from soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept honoraria since January 1, 1992. Section 36.07(a) of the Texas Penal Code (“Penal Code”), which was enacted to specifically address honoraria, states: § 36.07. Acceptance of Honorarium. (a) A public servant commits an offense if the public servant solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept an honorarium in consideration for services that the public servant would not have been requested to provide but for the public servant’s official position or duties. (b) This section does not prohibit a public servant from accepting transportation and

lodging expenses in connection with a conference or similar event in which the public servant renders services, such as addressing an audience or engaging in a seminar, to the extent that those services are more than merely perfunctory, or from accepting meals in connection with such an event.

Id. at §1.07(24). Although a school district superintendent is not specifically listed in section 36.07 of the Penal Code, a superintendent would clearly fall within its scope. In a broader context, the scope would also include any other school employee or elected board member.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(A) an officer, employee, or agent of government;

The term “honorarium” is not defined in the Penal Code, and the word’s only other appearance in the current statutory scheme sheds little light on its meaning. See Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 2205.036(b)(3) (Vernon 2000) (providing that the State Aircraft Pooling Board shall not provide air transportation to a passenger who “will perform a service or has performed a service for which the passenger is to receive an honorarium, unless the passenger reimburses the board for the cost of transportation”). Also, there currently does not appear to be any published Texas judicial decision that construes current section 36.07 or defines “honorarium” in any other context. However, the Texas Attorney General has analyzed the term “honorarium” and opined as follows:

Tex. Penal Code § 1.07(41) (Vernon 2007). The Penal Code definition of “government” includes: (a) the state; (b) a county, municipality, or political subdivision of the state; or (c) any branch or agency of the state, a county, municipality, or political subdivision.

An honorarium … is sometimes defined as a payment or reward, usually in recognition of services on which custom or propriety forbids any fixed business price to be set. It may be a free gift or gratuitous payment, as distinguished from hire or compensation for

Tex. Penal Code §36.07 (Vernon 2007) The meaning of “public servant” for purposes of section 36.07 is found in section 1.07 of the Penal Code, which defines the term as follows: “Public servant” means a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as one of the following, even if he has not yet qualified for office or assumed his duties:



service[s] … Thus, the word is commonly used to embrace both the concept of gift and of compensation. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. H-551 (1975) at 4 (citations omitted), see also Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. Nos. GA-0256 (2004) at 2-3, DM-397 (1996) at 3-4; Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n No. 19 (1992) at 2 n.1. Likewise, the Texas Ethics Commission (“TEC”) has noted that an “honorarium” is commonly understood to be “ ‘a payment in recognition of acts or professional services for which custom or propriety forbids a price to be set.’ ” Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n No. 401 (1998) at 2 n.1 (quoting definition from Random House Unabridged Dictionary 918 (2d ed. 1993)). The TEC, which is authorized to advise about the application of Penal Code chapter 36, has determined that fees for speaking, teaching, and certain other services are included in the term “honorarium.” Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n Nos. 305 (1996) at 1 n.1 (speaking and teaching fees can be an honorarium); 425 (2000) at 2 (severance pay and moving expenses paid to an employee who has accepted state employment may constitute an honorarium); 416 (1999) at 1-2 (payment of a research grant to a legislative employee pursuing a graduate degree may be an honorarium); 294 (1995) (acceptance of payment for teaching may be an honorarium). The TEC has concluded that an honorarium payment “in consideration for services” can be either payment of contractual consideration or payment “in appreciation for” such services. Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n No. 97 (1992) at 1. Moreover, according to the TEC, a payment may be an improper honorarium regardless of whether the person offering the payment is also the person requesting services. Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n No. 425 (2000) at 2 n.3. However, the TEC has not attempted to establish the parameters of the term “honorarium” as it appears in section 36.07. Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n No. 192 (1994) at 2 n.4 (stating that the “Ethics Commission has not considered whether there are circumstances in which a fee may not be an honorarium”); accord Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n Nos. 305 (1996) at 2 n.1; 312 (1996) at 2 n.1.



The Attorney General has opined that, based on the plain language of the statute, whether an honorarium was paid “in consideration for services that the public servant would not have been requested to provide but for the public servant’s official position or duties” depends on the motivation of the person or persons requesting the public servant to provide the services. See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-0354 (2005); Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 36.07(a) (Vernon 2003); see also Op. Tex. Ethics Comm’n No. 305 (1996) at 2 n.2. The TEC has consistently construed Section 36.07 to prohibit the acceptance of an honorarium for speaking engagements if the engagement would not have been requested but for the public servant’s official position or duties. Tex. Ethics Comm’n Op. 17 (1992); Tex. Ethics Comm’n Op. 173 (1993). However, a public servant may accept an honorarium if the public servant’s status was not a deciding factor to request that the public servant perform those services. Tex. Ethics Comm’n Op. 305 (1996). In other words, if the reason the servant was asked to perform such services was because of his expertise on a topic, then the honorarium would likely be permissible. Id. Before accepting payment for a speech, the public servant would need to satisfy himself that he would have been asked to speak regardless of his official position. Tex. Ethics Comm’n Op. 173 (1993). Such factors to consider would include the location of the speech, the nature of the audience, and the speaker’s expertise. Id. The TEC has also addressed the ability of a public servant to donate honorarium to nonprofit organizations and other third parties. The TEC has opined that the prohibition also extends to donations of honorarium to non-profit entities if the speaker solicits a donation to a specific tax-exempt entity or if the speaker expressly or implicitly agrees to the donation of the honorarium. See Tex. Ethics Comm’n Op. 19 (1992). A donation would only be permissible if the sponsoring organization unilaterally decides to donate the honorarium to a non-profit “in appreciation for a speech.” Tex. Ethics Comm’n Op. 150 (1993).

Reimbursement or payment of transportation, lodging, or meal expenses is not prohibited under the Penal Code. Tex. Penal Code §37.07 (b) (Vernon 2007). In summary, if speaking engagements for organizations are predicated on a superintendent’s position as a public servant instead of their particular area of expertise, then the Penal Code prohibits a superintendent from accepting honoraria for such services. Even if the honoraria were permissible under the Penal Code, section 11.201(e) of the Texas Education Code would prohibit honoraria if an entity has conducted and/or solicited business with the superintendent’s school district. However, if the speaking engagement is attributable to an area of expertise and the entity neither conducts nor solicits business from the district, then a superintendent’s ability to accept an honorarium would be subject to the approval of a district’s board of trustees at an open meeting in accordance with section 11.201(e) of the Texas Education Code. There may also be disclosure obligations under Chapter 176 of the Local Government Code, which is beyond the scope of this analysis but will be addressed in a future article.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. Specific questions and circumstances regarding the issues addressed in this article should be individually discussed with legal counsel.



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WE PROVIDE EDUCATIONAL SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR STUDENTS AND YOUR SCHOOL. WE CAN HELP YOUR STUDENTS: • Test out of subjects • Earn dual-credit • Earn credit during the summer • Make up credits in failed courses WE CAN OFFER YOUR SCHOOLS: • A drop-out prevention and recovery option • Bulk-quantity Credit by Examinations in more than 100 courses • Special programs and curriculum options For more information, call 800.692.6877, or visit our website at SUMMER 2008


2008 Fall Calendar September 2008 Date




17–18 First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 1 Experts in the Field

Austin Marriott North Hotel, Round Rock, TX


Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) Fall Conference

Austin Doubletree Hotel, Austin, TX


48th Annual TASA/TASB Convention

Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX


Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) Beginning Administrators Conference

Austin Omni Southpark, Austin, TX

October 2008 Date





Level I Curriculum Management Audit Training

Jan Jacob

Austin Airport Marriott South, Austin, TX


5th Annual Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) Conference

Westin Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA


Texas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (TxASCD) Annual Conference

Moody Gardens Hotel, Galveston, TX

24–26 Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference on Teaching and Learning

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

30–31 Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) Fall Summit

The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, The Woodlands, TX

Oct. 30– Nov. 1

Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO

35th Annual National Middle School Association (NMSA) Conference

Oct. 31– Nov. 2 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Women in School Leadership Forum

Westin Savannah Harbor Resort, Savannah, GA

November 2008 Date





5–6 First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 2 Experts in the Field

Austin Marriott North Hotel, Round Rock, TX

12–13 Texas A&M University/TASA Administrative Leadership Institute (ALI)

Hilton College Station Conference Center, College Station, TX

21–23 Texas Association of Suburban and Mid-Urban Schools (TAS/MUS) Fall Conference

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, Bastrop, TX


Texas Sets New Record with All-Time High Average on ACT TEA announced on August 13 that for the third year in a row Texas’ public and private school graduates have increased their ACT composite score and set a new state record with an all-time high average of 20.7, even while the national average score has dropped. “With our ACT composite scores increasing every year for three years in a row, it seems to indicate that recent educational reforms are making a difference. These scores demonstrate the importance of taking rigorous, advanced coursework, and I’m proud of the Texas students who take on that challenge,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. Highlights from the press release include: n Texas’ scores rose this year on each of the four subject-area tests for reading, English, math and science. The ACT

is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score.

earned by Asian students nationally, while American-Indian students earned an average score of 21.5, substantially above the national average for their ethnic group of 19.0.

n Texas’ white, African-American, Asian-

American, and American-Indian students earned a composite score that was higher than their ethnic group nationally.

n Texas’ Hispanic students received a score

of 18.4, compared to a score of 18.7 for Hispanics nationally. While lagging behind the national performance, Texas Hispanic students have increased their score for three straight years and make up 18 percent of the Hispanic test-takers nationally.

n White students in Texas posted an aver-

age composite score of 22.4, compared to 22.1 nationally. African-American students in Texas earned higher scores this year with an average composite of 17.2, a 0.3 percent increase over their national counterparts who earned a composite score of 16.9. Average score increases of 0.3 and 0.4 are unusually large gains for one year on the ACT. Typically, scores move up 0.1 and occasionally 0.2 per year. n Asian-American Texans received a score

of 23.8, significantly above the 22.9

The percent of Texas graduates who met or exceeded the ACT college readiness benchmarks and are considered ready for collegelevel coursework increased in all four subject areas this year. Read the full press release at:

Save the Date! TASA Midwinter Conference Austin Convention Center, January 26–28, 2009 n Get the information you need from presenters

who speak your language—budget and finance, curriculum and instruction, high school reform, college readiness, facilities planning, technology, assessment, and more! n Enjoy networking opportunities that create

a bonanza for administrators looking for colleagues who want to hash out problems and share ideas and solutions n Choose from two and one half days of events

geared solely to your team and the issues you deal with every day Online registration opens October 1.

Daniel Pink

First General Session Speaker Former chief speech writer to Vice President Al Gore, Daniel Pink is a best-selling author and internationally recognized expert on innovation, competition, and the changing world of work. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the revolutionary concepts that have put Pink’s book A Whole New Mind on both the New York Times and Business Week best seller lists.





Platinum and Gold Partners


President’s Circle

Gold Silver Bronze

TASA Corporate Partners 2007–08

TASA Corporate Partner Showcase

TASA is grateful to our corporate partners for their support. This showcase section of INSIGHT highlights Platinum and Gold partners.

Each level of the Corporate Partner Program is designed to offer our partners quality exposure to association members. Partners at the President’s Circle, Platinum, and Gold levels may customize special events and opportunities.



President’s Circle Apple Pearson Penn-Foster Scholastic SHW Group Platinum CompassLearning CTB McGraw Hill, The Grow Network ETS Houghton Mifflin Harcourt LenSec Scientific Learning Tango Software TCPN The Princeton Review Gold LifeTrack PBK Renaissance Learning Silver Horace Mann Indeco Sales Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP Taylor Balfour TCG Consulting Bronze Agile Mind AIG Valic Alton Lynch Associates Cambridge Strategic Services First Southwest Company New Century Education Parsons Sodexho SureScore Learning Together Vantage Learning

Tango Software â&#x2013;

TASA Platinum Partner

TASA Platinum Partner ■

CTB/McGraw-Hill The Grow Network

Improving Achievement is Easier if You Start With the Right Tools CTB/McGraw-Hill and The Grow Network help improve classroom learning and address the requirements of RTI with a comprehensive suite of scientific, research-based assessments and instructional guides designed to support targeted, informed instruction. Gives educators insight into student learning needs through interim and formative assessments. An online curriculum-based progress monitoring solution for Reading/Language Arts and Mathematics. Yearly ProgressPro™ is built on 25 years of research in Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM). The online essay-scoring and writing instruction program for Grades 3–12 that’s been proven to improve writing achievement. An innovative, research-based instructional program that improves student performance by addressing each student’s needs.

For more information or to schedule a presentation, please contact us at 800.538.9547. CTB/McGraw-Hill The Grow Network Copyright © 2008 by CTB/McGraw-Hill LLC. All rights reserved. Acuity, Yearly ProgressPro, Writing Roadmap, and MyGuide and their logos are trademarks of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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TASA Platinum Partner

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

DjgXdaaZXi^dcd[]^\]"kVajZZYjXVi^dcVagZcdlcZYWgVcYhhjX]Vh9Zhi^cVi^dc GZVY^c\œ!9Zhi^cVi^dcBVi]œ!AZVgc^c\K^aaV\Z!:VgdW^Xhœ!H`^aahIjidgIB!:YbVg`œ =djhZHZg^Zh!VcYbVcndi]Zgh!Wg^c\id\Zi]ZgXjgg^Xjajb"g^X]iZX]cdad\n hdaji^dchi]ViXdbW^cZfjVa^in^chigjXi^dc!VhhZhhbZci!Xjgg^XjajbbVcV\ZbZci! ^ciZgkZci^dc!VcYegd[Zhh^dcVaYZkZadebZci#DjgY^\^iVahdaji^dchVgZZmX^i^c\ VaiZgcVi^kZhidigVY^i^dcValVnhd[aZVgc^c\VcYegdk^YZVXdbeaZiZldgaY^cl]^X] ^chigjXi^dc!VhhZhhbZci!eZg[dgbVcXZbdc^idg^c\!\j^YZYijidg^VahVcYZc\V\ZbZci VXXdbbdYViZi]Z^cY^k^YjVacZZYhd[ZVX]hijYZci^cVcn\gVYZVcYViVcnaZkZad[ jcYZghiVcY^c\#

Help students reach their potential! Services from Kindergarten to College • Quality Formative Assessment

TASA Platinum Partner

• Research-Based Intervention • Successful Test Prep • Comprehensive College and Career Advisement

The Princeton Review

• Online Video Professional Development and StateMandated Training

800-Review2 | The Princeton Review and logo are trademarks registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by The Princeton Review, Inc., which is not affiliated with Princeton University.

Compass Learning ■

you can help each student soar. At CompassLearning®, we know that every learner is unique. Our Odyssey® K–8, High School, and Texas Math software solutions identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses by delivering formative assessments and personalized learning paths to help them succeed — whether they are ahead of the curve or struggling to keep up. Each lesson combines engaging video and animation that taps into the way students learn today. And because of its flexibility, Odyssey is ideal for mainstream students as well as those requiring intervention and credit recovery.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-428-8598.

© 2008 CompassLearning, Inc. All rights reserved.

TASA Platinum Partner

With CompassLearning Odyssey

TASA Platinum Partner ■


Skip the hard part! Utilizing a TCPN contract means we’ve already completed the competitive-bid process mandated by Texas state procurement laws and regulations. We aggregate one of the largest pools of purchasing potential, resulting in equal pricing for the smallest entity to the largest buyers! You deal directly with vendors to shorten your delivery time, increase your efficiency and save tax dollars. Best of all, there’s no dues, no fees—nothing! For a list of vendors or additional information, visit:

Scientific Learning’s Solutions: Supporting Response to Intervention (RtI) Efficiently and Effectively Fit Brains Learn Better Progress Tracker

Tier 3 Intensive Intervention

Fast ForWord Reading Series Tier 2 Targeted Intervention

Reading Assistant Manager

Reading Assistant*

Tier 1 Universal Intervention

* Students need to be reading 25 words correct per minute. (Recommended for Grade 2 and up)

The Scientific Learning family of products supports the RtI process by: • Addressing the underlying causes of failure • Building the cognitive skills needed for reading and learning • Delivering individualized, intensive daily sessions • Providing daily progress monitoring and evaluation

2008-20 Intensive R 09 e Initiative p ading rovider

For more information contact:

Cheryl Leatherbury

Phone: 972-355-0187 Email:

© 2008 Scientific Learning Corporation. All rights reserved.

TASA Platinum Partner

Providing appropriate early intervention is key for at-risk students. On average, students using Fast ForWord software achieve a 1 to 2-year reading gain in 8-12 weeks.

Progress Monitoring

Scientific Learning

Fast ForWord Language/ Literacy Series

TASA Gold Partner â&#x2013;

Renaissance Learning

The Power of Practice

Practice is Fundamental in Music and Athletics. The Same Holds True for Reading, Math, and Writing.

You Wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Believe Everything You Can Do With AR Now!

New Second-Edition Content Libraries with Alignments to State Standards, NCTM Curriculum Focal Points, and National Math Panel Findings.

The Only Laptop Designed for the Classroom!

RTI Renaissance Learning tools are perfect for use in a Response to Intervention framework.

For more information stop by our TASA/TASB booth #1218 or visit









Facility Consulting

Looking for world-class client service? PBK â&#x2013;

TASA Gold Partner

Look no further than PBK.



League City



San Antonio



Fort Worth

♦ Graduate Follow-up Surveys ♦ High School Exit Surveys ♦ Athletic/Activity Satisfaction Surveys ♦ Middle School Surveys

LifeTrack Services

TASA Gold Partner

♦ Title IX Interest Surveys

Join the thousands of schools LifeTrack Services has helped gather data for since 1989! ì We have used LifeTrack Services as our main source of reliable information to track the success of our graduates for several years. There is no other system like LifeTrack for providing our district student success data beyond high school. The service is great and the cost is well worth the information you receive.î Krista Parent, Superintendent, South Lane School District, OR 2007 AASA Superintendent of the Year


To have a CD presentation forwarded to you, complete the information below and fax to LifeTrack at 1-509-758-2162: School _____________________________________________________________________ Contact _________________________________Title _______________________________ Address ____________________________________________________________________ City _______________________________ State ____________ Zip __________________ Phone _________________________________ Fax ________________________________

Program of Interest: All Graduate Follow-up HS Exit Surveys Email _____________________________ Athletic Surveys Middle School Surveys Title IX Surveys

to our Convention sponsors Titanium







Infinity Business Group Perkins + Will

TASA/TASB Convention September 26-28, 2008 Dallas Convention Center Dallas, Texas Visit us at the TASA Member Services aisle to learn more about the many benefits of your TASA membership.

THE Conference for you and your leadership team!

406 East 11th Street Austin, TX 78701-2617

Presorted Standard U.S. Postage PAID Austin, TX Permit No. 1941

INSIGHT—Summer 2008  
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