Expanding Possibilities: New Tools, Research and Publications

From IDRA’s 2015 Annual Report, The Power of Possibility – How IDRA and Our Partners are Transforming Public Education

New Research on Education of English Learners in Middle School and High School
This proceedings report of the IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program symposium shares key insights from the robust discussion among the along with the research study by Dr. Jimenez-Castellanos. It also provides recommendations for policymakers, educators, community and business leaders, and parents.

See the report as a PDF or in a dynamic reader online.

Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ Storytelling & Storyreading Video DVD
Both storytelling and storyreading support learning in the classroom and provide different kinds of literacy experiences for students. This DVD is the newest feature of IDRA’s bilingual supplemental early childhood curriculum. It contains the 10 Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ stories told in two styles: storyreading (in English) and storytelling (in Spanish). Each story in Spanish includes an opening gathering song and a closing song.

Community Survey about House Bill 5 Curriculum Tracking Plans – Key Findings
The Equal Voice-Rio Grande Valley Network surveyed more than 1,600 parents across 24 school districts and 30 cities about their knowledge about Texas’ curriculum tracking policies and new graduation requirements. IDRA analyzed the survey data and developed a report with the survey’s key findings, implications, and recommended next action steps for communities.

See the bilingual infographic. See the report as a PDF or in Slideshare.  


Amicus Brief for Equitable School Funding
This amicus brief was filed by the national Education Law Center along with several Texas organizations in support of low-income and ELL students urging the court to affirm the trial court’s ruling. IDRA provided expert analysis and testimony finding that the system is inequitable and fails to provide adequate levels of funding for educating ELL and low-income students. Joining ELC on the amicus brief were the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Mexican American School Board Members Association (MASBA), San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Texas Appleseed, Texas Association for Bilingual Education, Texas HOPE, and Texas NAACP.

 Supporting Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools
As schools opened their doors for a new school year, IDRA released a new eBook as a reminder that public schools, by law, must serve all children. Texas Public School Attrition Study, 2014-15 This annual report of IDRA statewide research on attrition in Texas – the only independent study, using consistent methodology and spanning more than two decades of longitudinal data—includes statewide and county findings as well as disaggregated findings by student groups. In addition the interactive and searchable report are a supplemental analysis by region, maps, forecast analysis, overview of the state’s report, rates for ELLs, and comparison of Texas data with other states. See the eBook as PDF or in Slideshare.

IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute 2015 Videos
Set of five videos on YouTube from IDRA’s institute connecting families, educators and community groups across Texas. This annual institute offers families, school district personnel and community groups from across Texas the opportunity to network, obtain resources and information, and receive training and bilingual materials on IDRA’s nationally-recognized research-based model for parent leadership in education. The video shot by by NOWCastSA and is posted online in five parts:

  • IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute: Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program (44:28 min)
  • IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute: Family Leadership for Student Success (5:13:05 min)
  • IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute: The Prek 4 SA Model (27:22 min)
  • IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute: Leadership in Early Childhood Education (31:58 min)
  • IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute: Texas Education Policy (54:31 min)

IDRA Opportunity Matters Roundtable with Dr. Paul Gorski, “An Equity Literacy Approach to Poverty and Education”
On-demand webinar with a presentation of Dr. Gorski’s work, followed by discussion. Dr. Paul C. Gorski is associate professor in New Century College and a Research Fellow in the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, George Mason University. His scholarly work in education centers on anti-poverty activism and social justice in education. The roundtable conversation included a presentation of Dr. Gorski’s work, followed by an open, roundtable discussion of these ideas. The topic of this roundtable – the impact of deficit ideologies – is an area of long-standing concern to IDRA whose core commitment is to promote education policy and practice that values all children, without exception.

 Texas Underfunds ELL Education; Impacts Student Achievement Videos
Set of five videos on YouTube from IDRA’s ELL symposium held in person and via livecast. English language learners make up the fastest growing segment of the student population but they are one of the lowest academically performing groups of students, and the achievement gap widens as students progress through school. Dr. Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos, IDRA’s inaugural José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow, presented his research findings on securing educational equity & excellence for ELLs in Texas secondary schools at a symposium in San Antonio. In person and via livecast, the event gathered more than 80 education and community leaders, and experts in law and education research around the critical question of how we can improve secondary education quality and access for English learners. The webcast is available online in four parts.

  • School Funding and English Language Learners: Part 1
  • School Funding and English Language Learners: Part 2
  • School Funding and English Language Learners: Report Outs
  • School Funding and English Language Learners: Interviews

Building Powerful Family Leadership for Educational Success
Presentation of IDRA’s i3 model and research at the AERA conference by Aurelio Montemayor and Nancy F. Chavkin of Texas State University, “Building Powerful Family Leadership for Educational Success: PTA Comunitario in  Texas’ Rio Grande Valley” (Lessons from the Federal Investing in Innovation (i3) Grants for Building and Sustaining Meaningful Family, School, Community Partnerships).

Tools for the Texas Supreme Court School Finance Hearing
On September 1, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the largest school finance case in the state’s history, Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition vs. Williams. The hearing came 369 days after the Texas District Court ruled that the state’s funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Much is at stake as the court decides whether or not to ensure that the state provides equal educational opportunity not for just some, but for all, of its children. IDRA provided Key resources, like links to the trial’s livestream, a key amicus brief, podcasts, infographics and more.

IDRA also launched a redesigned social media dashboard to collect news about the Texas school finance trial for easy access for parents, school folk and communities. It provides the latest news stories, live tweets, images, etc.

What Tutors Have to Say about the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program
Pinterest board highlighting tutors’ statements about their experiences in the program.

IDRA Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ Resources for Bilingual Early Childhood
IDRA published an eBook presenting components of the Semillitas de Aprendizaje books, supplemental curriculum and teacher guide, videos, family engagement letters and other resources for educators in bilingual early childhood classrooms. The eBook is also available on Slideshare.

Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Case: Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
IDRA filed a friend of the court, or amicus brief, in the higher education admissions case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Filed on October 30, 2015, IDRA’s brief encourages U.S. Supreme Court to consider systemic challenges facing Latino and African American students in public schools. IDRA’s brief presents research for the court to consider on several challenges facing, and being overcome by, Latino and African American students in Texas’ PK-12 public education system, including under-resourced schools, under-preparation for college entrance exams, disparate student discipline referrals, student mobility, and the importance of diverse experiences.

Celebrating our 2014-15 IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Tutors
The IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. IDRA posted this eBook with photos from the program sites in five U.S. regions from the 2014-15 school year.

IDRA Coca Cola Valued Youth Program Dropout Prevention that Works Video
IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. This video on YouTube outlines the program’s core components and provides guidance for campus and classroom implementation. It also highlights program participants at all levels, from tutors, teachers, parents and principals.

Bilingual Tool on the New Texas Graduation Requirements
The Texas Legislature changed the graduation requirements for Texas students. The Texas diploma is no longer standard across the state. Some rigorous courses are no longer required by Texas, which means many students may not be prepared for college. But it doesn’t have to be this way. IDRA disseminated this one-page bilingual flier for an overview of the new state requirements to assist families in navigating endorsement options to select pathways that fit their goals. In English and Spanish.

Texas Can Fund Schools Equitably
As the Texas legislative session kicked off in January, IDRA disseminated this infographic from IDRA’s analyses showing significant variation in funding levels in local, property-wealthy vs. property poor public school districts. It shows how some children are considered more valuable than others in Texas. It doesn’t have to be this way. “It is unfortunate – scandalous in fact – that it takes litigation to convince our state leaders to invest in education, to invest in children – all children, to invest in the future of Texas.”

IDRA’s Op-Eds in 2015

Austin American-Statesman Op-Ed: “If the State of Texas Wins this Trial, Texas Children Will Lose,” by María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., IDRA President & CEO.

Some excerpts from this op-ed:

“The State of Texas is set to argue in the school finance case this week before the Texas Supreme Court that the legislature is free to ignore the needs for over 3 million low-income students and English language learner children attending public schools across Texas…

“As the state has raised standards for all students, it also has slashed funding for prekindergarten programs, increased class sizes, watered down the curriculum and forced quality teachers to leave the profession. Four years later, the state’s leadership still has not replaced its massive funding cuts to education…

“It is vital that the court respect the rights of children across the state who have no other recourse to a better education and a better future. Investing in education means funding our public schools for excellence. We cannot wait any longer.”

San Antonio Express-News Op-Ed: “Texas is Failing its English Language Learners,” by by Roy Johnson, M.S.
Some excerpts from this op-ed:

 “About 30% of students in this growing group don’t graduate — yet it doesn’t have to be this way.” Some excerpts:

“We would not be ok with only seven in 10 airplanes landing safely at their destination. We would not sit idly by if our electricity only worked seven out of 10 days. And we would not sit still if our banks lost $3 of $10 from our paychecks… And yet, the loss of hundreds of students hardly gets a second glance.”

“TEA reports that only 8 percent of ELL students were considered college-ready in math and English language arts, compared to 56 percent for all students.”

“With greater attention to the quality of instructional programs for ELLs and to the adequate and equitable funding for ELLs, we can secure educational opportunity for our all of students – and all means all.”

San Antonio Express-News Op-Ed: “Does funding equity matter to legislators?” by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel
As the end of the Texas legislative session approached, both chambers had opportunities to consider school funding legislation that could have attempted to address the recent court ruling that our school finance system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” In this op-ed, Dr. Robledo Montecel urged them to use their appropriations power to invest in public education in the right places.