Misconceptions: Public Schools Lack Innovation

    Creativity and Innovation Abound in Public Schools

    This is the first in our story series, “Misconception Mondays,” where we will dispel a common misconception about public schools in Texas each Monday of the month. The first step to becoming an advocate for all Texas students is to know the truth about our schools.

    Manor ISD: Think Forward Institute

    When looking for shining examples of public school innovation, Manor Independent School District clearly stands out. In 2013, the school district received national recognition by President Obama for their inventive teaching methods and incorporation of technology within their overall curriculum.

    Perhaps their most notable claim to fame is the Think Learning Institute, which focuses on the importance of project-based learning. Watch the video below to see how building a playhouse out of popsicle sticks transformed into using digital imaging through Google Sketch to design a full-scale, 3-D mansion!

    Conroe ISD: Texas Torque Robotics Team

    Conroe Independent School District’s Texas Torque Robotics Team (comprised of students from The Academy of Science and Technology, The Woodlands College Park High School, The Woodlands High School, and Oak Ridge High School) is another shining example of our public schools doing amazingly innovative things.

    The team once again qualified to compete at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) World Championships in St. Louis. To learn more about their robots and their journey to quality for FIRST, click here.

    Amarillo ISD: Creative Community Engagement & Partnerships

    There are other ways for public schools to innovate outside of technology. Amarillo Independent School District is leading the way in local partnerships to maximize the learning experiences of their students.

    Pursuing Real Opportunities (PRO) began as a collaborative effort between the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, Amarillo ISD, and Amarillo College in response to part of the educational attainment study of Panhandle Twenty/20. PRO is a senior level course in which students must apply to the program. Once accepted, the teacher works with the student to find an internship site that will be a good fit for both the student and employer. Students spend six hours per week in an unpaid internship at a local business where they are paired with a mentor at the business.

    The mentor-intern relationship is one of the most powerful tools of the program. It allows the student to develop a professional relationship with an adult who reinforces the importance of employability skills and training. Student experiences in the PRO program have solidified career plans for some, while others realized that what they thought was the career path they wanted to pursue is not the right fit. Both experiences are valuable in that it helps direct their next step in the educational and career training process.

    Hays ISD: Data-Driven Programs

    Research has proven that after-school tutoring is ineffective – students and teachers are tired, attendance rates decrease when students are mandatory assigned tutoring, and behavior and morale issues arise. So, Simon Middle School created an intervention and enrichment program built into the school day (approximately 40 minutes every morning).

    During these 40 minutes, ALL students are flexibly grouped and receive intervention or enrichment based on specific needs. In just one year, Simon showed the most gains in student achievement out of all middle schools in Central Texas according to the E3 Alliance.

    During these 40 minutes, ALL students are flexibly grouped and receive intervention or enrichment based on specific needs. In just one year, Simon showed the most gains in student achievement out of all middle schools in Central Texas according to the E3 Alliance.

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