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BPC News  Oct 2010, Volume 1, Issue 3

Hot Topics

ELL Solutions Forum
Two BPC contributors (Brownsville ISD and Montwood High School/Socorro ISD) were among the presenters at English Language Learners and Designing Effective Bilingual Programs, a professional development opportunity hosted by state Senator Florence Shapiro, Chair, Senate Education Committee, and Senator Leticia Van de Putte. The event was held at the Region 20 Education Service Center. The BPC is in the process of collecting best practices from the other presenters (Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Plano ISD, and KIPP SHINE Prep). A video of the ELL Solutions Forum and materials provided by the presenters can be accessed at These resources will be available directly from the BPC website soon.

Dropout Prevention and Recovery Webinar Series
Webinars featuring Socorro ISD and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD have been archived on the BPC website. Strategies used in these districts to serve students at risk of dropping out align with research-based best practices identified in both state and national studies (see, for example, Dynarski, Clarke, Cobb, Finn, Rumberger, & Smink, 2008; TEA, 2008), and completion rates for both districts have been consistently above state and peer district averages. 

Socorro ISD strategies include the following: a longstanding Communities in Schools program; early warning systems for identification and monitoring of at-risk students; alternative and flexible academic options; and school-community collaborations to address student barriers to attending school. View Socorro ISD’s best practice summary, Supporting High School Completion for At-Risk Students.  

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD strategies include the following: a ninth-grade study skills course; algebra and geometry laboratories; programming to provide mentors and caring adults to serve as student advocates; and a comprehensive dropout recovery program. View Cypress-Fairbanks ISD’s best practice summary,  Middle/Early High School Interventions for At-Risk Students.

Please visit to view the archived webinars.

Texas recognized as national leader in tackling dropout problem
Twenty-one states report graduation data using the National Governors Association (NGA) graduation rate definition, which is a four-year, on-time graduation rate based on actual student data as opposed to estimates. Sixteen states that use the NGA definition publicly reported their graduation rate data for 2008. Based on this data, a recent TEA brief drawn from NGA reports shows that Texas ranked fourth behind Iowa, Vermont, and Virginia. For more information on this and other national reports highlighting Texas’ progress in addressing dropout prevention, visit What Others Are Saying About Texas. For additional information, visit Dropout Information: How Texas Identifies, Prevents and Recovers Dropouts.  

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For comments and suggestions…

For comments or suggestions on the BPC newsletter, please contact TEA Statewide Policy and Programs at 512-463-9451.

Spotlight On
The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Best Practices Guide for Educators and Local Partners, Big Ideas for Building Local College and Career Initiatives, collects some of the best of what Texas educators are doing to implement the College and Career Initiative of TEA’s CTE Unit. The initiative is designed to help Texas schools prepare students for secondary and postsecondary opportunities, career preparation and advancement, meaningful work, and active citizenship. The guide provides real-world examples of local initiatives featuring perspectives from students, counselors, and community partners. Best practices are organized around the eight steps featured in the CTE Implementation Guide, How to Ensure Student Success by Creating a Strong College and Career Education Program.  

Featured Best Practice

Pathways to College and Careers in Hidalgo ISD 
Hidalgo Early College High School, recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 100 high schools in the nation, is an outstanding example of how a district can unite college readiness with high-quality CTE training. Building from an established Career Pathways program and utilizing funding from the Communities Foundation of Texas and TEA, Hidalgo transformed its comprehensive high school into an early college campus committed to providing all Hidalgo students with college opportunities. All students in Grades 9–10 take a focused college-prep academic core that includes college experiences for everyone. By 11th grade, Hidalgo students can take academic college courses leading to transferrable college credits up to and including an associate degree or high-quality college-level CTE courses leading to national certification in vocational areas such as machining and metal trades, health and human services, automotive technology, and electronics and computer science. Hidalgo ISD, a rural district serving a predominately low-income (90.6%) and Hispanic (99.8%) population along the Texas/Mexico border, has demonstrated impressive results with its college readiness strategy. The four-year cohort graduation rate for the Class of 2009 was 90.9%, with 98% of graduates earning either a recommended or distinguished diploma. Almost half of Hidalgo students (45%) took AP exams, compared to a peer campus group in which only 18.6% took AP exams. Key strategies reflect best practices highlighted in the CTE implementation and best practices guides that promote student preparation for secondary and postsecondary success. These best practices include efforts that: 

  • Span all grade levels
  • Build seamless connections to college
  • Develop strong higher education partnerships
  • Offer quality professional development
  • Create programs of study around the state’s 16 career clusters
  • Enhance guidance and support
  • Utilize achievement plans
  • Provide extended learning opportunities

New Best Practices

The BPC is now including a new category of best practice summaries called Start-Up and Sustainability Profiles. The summaries below provide information about how two elementary campuses continued and expanded K–2 reading initiatives after initial funding ended. These campuses implemented reading program models with a high level of fidelity and then committed to sustaining and enhancing the initiatives, resulting in continued high student achievement.  

  • Campuswide literacy coaching and collaboration at Iles Elementary result in sustained high reading achievement. This magnet elementary campus continued and expanded components of its K–2 reading initiative to develop a locally funded campuswide model. A campus literacy coach led ongoing site-based professional development and collaborative cross-grade level literacy teams to provide coherent instruction campuswide. Training for teachers in Grades 3–5 was designed to help teachers understand how to support struggling students who still needed to develop foundational reading skills.

New Research and Resources

Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading (April 2010).  A new report from Carnegie Corporation of New York published by the Alliance for Excellent Education draws on a comprehensive statistical review of research to provide evidence-based information about how instructional practices in writing can improve reading skills and comprehension. Given the focus on writing and grammar by the State Board of Education in the most recently revised English, Language Arts and Reading TEKS, this report is timely. The report makes three core recommendations: (1) have students write about the texts they read; (2) teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text; and (3) increase how much students write. Writing to Read builds on the ideas and findings of the 2006 Alliance report Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High School Literacy.

New Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Practice Guides Released. In September 2010, the IES What Works Clearinghouse published two new practice guides:

New TEA Dropout Information Homepage. TEA has recently created a homepage and section titled Dropout Information on the agency’s website. There you will find comprehensive information about how Texas and Texas public schools identify, prevent, and recover dropouts. Topics include:

Call for Best Practice Submissions

BPC is seeking best practice submissions related to the topic areas listed below:  

  • Interventions for struggling learners and at-risk students  
  • Effective middle school dropout prevention practices 
  • Middle-to-high school transition strategies for at-risk students 
  • Dropout recovery strategies to assist youth who, after previously leaving school, have re-enrolled to complete their high school diploma or an alternative path to college 
  • Innovative strategies to recruit and retain qualified teachers, particularly in hard to serve areas, both rural and urban  

Please visit Submit a Best Practice to complete a BPC Share a Best Practice―Notice of Interest  form. For information on standards and criteria for determining best practices, please visit About BPC and Best Practice Standards

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