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SCHOOL FAQS

Should I enroll my child in another school while on a waiting list for my first choice?
Registration fees in most schools are non-refundable. Each individual school will have their own policy regarding reimbursement for withdrawal from the program. Programs that do not run year-round do not usually except new children during the school year. Admission from a waiting list usually means that there is a spot for your child in the next school calendar year.

Austin Kids Guide for ideas on activities for children, vacation spots, camps, and much more

What are my public school transportation options?
Transportation to and from school at the elementary level in Austin can involve walking/biking, driving or carpool, and in some areas bus services for both special needs and typically developing children. Bus services are available to children who live within two miles of their school. School bus routes are outlined on district websites - many Central Texas Districts schools use Transportation Finder for fast, individualized searches of bus routes and pick-up stops.

What are my after school program options like?
Austin, Del Valle, and Hays Independent School Districts offer Extend-A-Care for Kids providing on-site, after-school child care at elementary schools for the convenience of working parents. Check with your child’s district for exact fees and scholarship opportunities. There are also discounts for multiple children and when fees are paid in advance and in full. Care is also provided for school holidays and winter break.

Can my child transfer to another school in the district and what steps must I take to initiate this request?

  • Bilingual Choice (Transfer)
  • The Public Education Grant Program (PEG) allows students who are enrolled in schools that have been rated as low-performing by the Texas Education Agency in any of the last three years, or in which more than half of the students failed the TAAS/TAKS for two of any three consecutive years, may transfer to another school or another district of their choice. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, students attending a Title I school designated as “in need of improvement” have the right to attend a higher-performing school in the district (source: http://www.greatschools.net/texas/austin/Austin-Independent-School-District/).
  • Students seeking transfer under the PEG Program should follow standard transfer procedures. Check with your district for the most up-to-date transfer information (for example: AISD has frozen transfers on several schools, some for all grades, others for certain grade levels only, for the 2009-10 school year).
  • For a successful transfer process, it is essential to follow calendars schedules related to transfers as there are very specific dates for paperwork and transfer requests for both priority and general transfers.
  • Priority Transfers
    Priority transfer students are not subject to the first come first serve process required by other applicants. Paperwork is still required. There are 3 categories for priority transfer:
  • Sibling transfers are allowed when a sibling has requested a transfer or is transferred to a special program; siblings must submit a transfer request for each child and meet all deadline and paperwork requirements tracking transfers allowed when attendance is exemplary and a student wishes to transfer to a school to stay with peers whose neighborhood assignment sends them to a different school; tracking transfers must be submitted by a certain deadline (check with your district for schedule) majority to minority when a student attends a school where their ethnic group represents a 50% or more majority, the student may seek transfer to a school where they are in the minority; this program seeks to promote diversity throughout the district
  • First Come, First Serve Transfers
  • Priority transfers will be processed first and then all general transfers will be considered. The following is the process for AISD - other districts will have similar requirements and time-lines but please consult that district for specific information.

The parent should:

  • Secure a Transfer Request Form: A transfer request form may be obtained at your child’s school or from the Office of Student Services.
  • Complete All Required Information: The request must include the student’s name, address, date of birth, ethnicity, grade level for the year for which the transfer is being requested, desired school, and parents’ home and work phone numbers. The type of transfer being requested also must be indicated.
  • Submit Form: Submit form to the Office of Student Services or appropriate office for your district.

Pay careful attention to dates and deadlines for priority transfers, general transfers in the fall and general transfers in the spring. If your transfer was submitted on time but denied then you may appeal the decision. Students who transfer must maintain academic and behavioral standards or the transfer may be revoked. Transportation services are not available to students who have received a transfer (except in cases where mobility is impaired).

Is there a school just for transfer students in Austin?
Pease Elementary is an all-transfer school located in the heart of downtown Austin. Pease offers small class sizes for K-6 and boasts a diverse student population. The transfer process for Pease is the same as for general transfers in AISD. The transfer is good until your child reaches 6th grade or unless the transfer is revoked due to poor attendance, academic performance, lack of parental participation, or behavioral issues. Sibling transfers are available and must be submitted by strict deadlines.

Is there a dress code in public schools in Austin?
AISD - all district requirements will be similar to AISD; check your specific district for complete dress code information

What are athletic programs like at private schools?
Athletics programs in private schools have grown in central Texas over the last decade and can offer your child competitive sportsmanship opportunities. TAPPS (Texas Association of Parochial and Private Schools) governs and awards the athletic and academic competition programs in private schools in Texas and aligns member schools into districts (similar to UIL in the pubic school system).

What concerns should I have about college admission requirements in Texas?
(Taken DIRECTLY from TEA: Key to Reaching Your Goals Brochure)
Did you know that…

  • the highest ranking graduate at each Texas public high school receives a certificate from the Texas Education Agency that can be used as a scholarship to cover tuition costs at any Texas public college or university?
  • students ranked in the top 10 percent of their graduating class from an accredited public or private Texas high school are eligible for automatic admission to any Texas public university if they have completed the Recommended or Distinguished Achievement Plan?
  • students can earn college credit while still in high school by taking advanced placement courses and passing the advanced placement tests or by enrolling in and passing dual credit courses?
  • a college graduate will have average lifetime earnings twice that of a high school graduate?

What is the TAKS test?

  • Stands for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test and is administered in all Texas Elementary and Jr/Sr high schools to assess proficiency in 5 core subjects: reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. TAKS scores are used by the Texas Education Agency to evaluate the success of schools in meeting Texas Education Standards. Parents can also use TAKS data to evaluate a school based on the performance of the student body.
  • TAKS test and scores are an essential evaluation tool in the No Child Left Behind Program
  • Students in grades 3- 10 take the test every school calendar year with an exit exam at the end of high school. Graduation requirements include passing the TAKS Exit Exam; students are given 5 chances to pass the exam to fulfill graduation requirements. Students receiving special education services are administered a modified TAKS (known as TAKS-M or TAKS-A).
  • The test is currently not timed. TAKS tests are administered during school hours and study guides are available. Raw scores (the number of questions correctly answered) are converted into a scaled score. A scaled scores of 2100 meets the standard of performance; 2400 is a commended performance.
  • See TEA/TAKS for detailed information

What sort of bilingual and Spanish Immersion programs are there? (source)

  • Students who speak a language other than English and students wishing to learn a language other than their home language have options in the public and private school systems in Central Texas. As a border State to Mexico, Austin families are often seeking programs to support native Spanish speakers or to obtain Spanish proficiency for their children. Many programs in the area will focus on English to Spanish instruction (or vice versa) but programs for French, Mandarin, and other languages are available.
  • Austin Bilingue is an excellent resource for news and information regarding bilingual and immersion education in Austin. See also Spanglish BabyNational Association for Bilingual Education

The following terms will help you in your search for appropriate program for your child:

  • bilingual instruction: instruction in two languages, usually a native and a second language.
  • bilingual program: enriched program where students learn knowledge and skills in two languages.
  • immersion education: children are taught a second language through subject-matter instruction in that language, with an emphasis on contextual clues and with lessons geared to students’ level of competence (Crawford, 1991).
  • dual language immersion (DLI): provides instruction in two languages for English speakers and non-native speakers of English; the goals of the program promote bilingualism, bi-literacy, high academic achievement, and multiculturalism.
  • ESL: English as a Second Language; students receive specified periods of instruction aimed at the development of English language skills, with a primary focus to learn the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skill for reading and language arts.

AISD Bilingual Information
see also:

How are schools funded in Texas?

  • Texas is one of few states with no state income tax; as a Texas resident, your property taxes fund schools with some help from the State Lottery Revenues.
  • School Finance Reform. This was a buzz-phrase in Central Texas throughout the 80’s and 90’s. The issue is still at hand today but a few things have been decided:
  • Share the Wealth: The states wealthiest districts now share their property taxes with poorer districts
  • Lottery Revenues: meant to alleviate some of the pressure on school budgets
  • Poorer districts HAVE benefited from Share the Wealth but pressure is mounting on tax payers to bridge the gap in underfunded schools with ever-growing budget needs. The State Lottery has not been the significant relief the State was hoping for. School finance reform is an ongoing civic and legislative issue and something families might consider as they examine property taxes for neighborhoods in Austin.
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