The IDRA Newsletter is published 10 times a year. Each edition focuses on issues in education, striving to provide many different perspectives on the topics covered and to define its significance in the state and national dialogue. The IDRA Newsletter can only be mailed to U.S.addresses, but pdf and web copies are available online.

Click Here to Subscribe

See PDF of this issue.
See IDRA Newsletter eLetter for this issue.

March 2016 Issue ~ Articles


Current Issue:
March 2016

Focus ~ College Preparedness


Sign up for IDRA’s free email newsletter!

Get IDRA’s Classnotes Podcast via itunes or online

Newsletter Executive Editor
María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.

ISSN 1069-5672

Ready Texas: Gathering Stakeholder Input to Guide Research on New Texas High School Graduation Plans
On a bright and mild February morning in the Texas state capital, researchers, K-12 educators, policymakers, family and community leaders, higher education faculty, and students gathered to discuss the future of post-secondary education in Texas and the status of high school curricula under House Bill 5. At the core of the discussion were several key questions: What does Texas need to do to prepare all students for post-secondary success? Will changes in Texas graduation plan requirements under HB5 impact college and career readiness for high school students? If so, how? Laurie Posner, MPA, director of IDRA’s Ready Texas project, describes the event’s review of research that is already underway and participants’ call for additional comprehensive research.

Beyond the College T-shirt Days – Transition Counseling to Ensure College Success
The superintendent of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Dr. Daniel King, saw that many of the district’s students were registering for college, but they weren’t actually staying and completing their studies. So seven years ago, he brought in “college transition counselors.” Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., interviewed two of PSJA’s counselors: Vera Boda, PSJA college transition lead, and Cynthia Martínez, PSJA college transition specialist. This article is a synopsis of their conversation.

Leaders Turn Around Schools – Transformational Equity Focus Makes College Readiness a Priority
Turning around challenged schools requires exceptional, effective leadership and practical guidance on what works for successful student outcomes (Theoharis, 2009; de la Torre, et al., 2013). Transformational leaders are agents of change directly responsible for leading, encouraging, empowering and overseeing the school-turnaround efforts regardless of their students’ circumstances. They are directly responsible for the preparation of students for college and career. In this article, Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., describes how it was this kind of transformational leadership that made a concrete difference for students at one middle school in San Antonio.

Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools – School Opening Alert
As schools are opening their doors for a new school year, this alert is a reminder that public schools, by law, must serve all children. The education of undocumented students is guaranteed by the Plyler vs. Doe decision, and certain procedures must be followed when registering immigrant children in school to avoid violation of their civil rights.

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler vs. Doe, public schools may not:

  • deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of undocumented status;
  • treat a student differently to determine residency;
  • engage in any practices to “chill” the right of access to school;
  • require students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status;
  • make inquiries of students or parents intended to expose their undocumented status; or
  • require Social Security numbers from all students, as this may expose undocumented status.

Ebook: Supporting Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools

You can also download the alert as a bilingual school opening alert flier (English-Spanish) to share with others.

Get more information and resources on our dedicated webpage

Meet Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. IDRA Senior Education Associate
This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. Aurelio Manuel Montemayor, M.Ed., is an IDRA senior education associate and lead trainer. He grew up on the border in Laredo, Texas, and began his teaching career in 1964, also on the border in the San Felipe High School as an English teacher in the San Felipe neighborhood of Del Rio. His original plans to become a published writer were sidetracked by his immediate and permanent love of teaching. His pedagogic skills and development were central to his journey through becoming a VISTA trainer, a co-founder of an independent Chicano college and, during the early 1970s, proud to meet with Paolo Freire, who had been an inspiration for his education work in the community.  Aurelio came to IDRA in 1975 as a teacher trainer and developed key training-of-trainer tools for educators and others as exemplified in the WOW! Workshop on Workshops.

The Thorny Path of the Non-compliant Xeriscapist

March 2016 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus

Classnotes podcasts on college preparedness

Community Expects College Prep for All – Episode 156

A Principal on Setting Expectations for College – Episode 126

A Principal on the Core elements of School Transformation – Episode 127

A Principal on Supporting Teachers for Student College Readiness – Episode 128

Tracking vs. High Quality Education for All Students – Episode 124

Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.

College Bound and Determined –IDRA Report
IDRA’s report, College Bound and Determined, shows how the Pharr-San Juan Alamo school district in south Texas transformed itself from low achievement and low expectations to planning for all students to graduate from high school and college. In PSJA, transformation went beyond changing sobering graduation rates or even getting graduates into college. This school district is changing how we think about college readiness.

Three out of four parents of teens in the Texas Rio Grande Valley have not received info about the new tracking policies and graduation plans
The Equal Voice-Rio Grande Valley Network surveyed more than 1,600 parents about their knowledge about Texas’ curriculum tracking policies and new graduation requirements. Few parents across 24 school districts and 30 cities in the Rio Grande Valley had received information from their children’s schools. IDRA analyzed the survey data and developed a report with the survey’s key findings, implications, and recommended next action steps for communities. Results were shared at an event and press conference in August 2015. See the bilingual infographic and the report as a PDF or on Slideshare.

IDRA OurSchool portal – designed to help you – educators and community members – find out how well your high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what you can do together to address them.

IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™

Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework
At a time when public education makes a world of difference to our students, communities and economic success, many are looking for strategies that will work for them and that will last. Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students.