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Persistence paid off when, after fighting a rule weakening entry into the teaching profession every step of the way at the State Board for Educator Certification, TCTA convinced the State Board of Education to reject the rule when it came to the SBOE for review. The SBOE voted unanimously Friday to reject the rule and send it back to SBEC for possible revisions at its October meeting. TCTA will be there to ensure that any revisions address TCTA’s concerns.

Teacher Retirement System Executive Director Brian Guthrie informed lawmakers and staff in recent meetings that the TRS Board will be considering premiums for retiree health insurance at its Sept. 20-21 meeting next week. 

TCTA is taking every opportunity to remind lawmakers that many active school employees are in crisis mode with regard to health insurance — some forgoing care or necessary medications, or waiving insurance coverage completely due to skyrocketing costs — in part because the state has not increased its contribution since the plan’s implementation in 2002.

Longtime TCTA member Karyn Ard of Troup ISD is among six finalists for the 2019 Texas Teacher of the Year award given by the Texas Association of School Administrators. TASA announced the finalists on Aug. 20 — three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers — along with releasing the names of 40 educators chosen as 2019 Regional Teachers of the Year. That list includes Ard and nine other TCTA members.

Lawmakers on the House Public Education Committee charged with gathering information ahead of the 2019 session heard testimony Aug. 8 on teacher compensation. Education Commissioner Mike Morath proposed a merit pay model that TCTA opposes because of the linkage between teacher compensation and student test scores.

Most Texas school districts earned passing grades as TEA issued its first A-F academic accountability ratings. The Texas Education Agency issued the grades Aug. 15 to all public school districts and charters, with 92 districts exempt from a grade this year due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey along the Gulf Coast.

TCTA testified at the Aug. 3, 2018, State Board for Educator Certification meeting against a proposal to expand the types of certificates that could be obtained via a shortened educator preparation program. In response, SBEC member and TCTA immediate past president Suzanne McCall made a motion to strike the objectionable language in the rule, but the motion failed by a narrow margin, 3-4. Accordingly, the proposal will proceed to the State Board of Education for approval or rejection. TCTA will continue to advocate for maintaining high and consistent standards for entry into the teaching profession throughout the remainder of the process.

Candidates are limited to five attempts to pass a certification exam under Texas Education Code §21.048. A subsection of the law that currently counts all attempts of the same exam taken before Sept. 1, 2015, as only one attempt is set to expire. Beginning Sept. 1, 2018, all attempts of the same exam, no matter when they occurred, will count toward the five-attempt testing limit regardless of when the exam was first attempted.  

The TRS Board of Trustees voted at its July meeting on a 5-4 vote to lower the return rate assumption for the pension fund from the current 8 percent to 7.25 percent. The employee representatives on the board, including former TCTA presidents Dolores Ramirez and Nanette Sissney, as well as Greg Gibson and Dick Nance, voted against the 7.25 percent rate. This group of trustees supported a 7.5 percent rate at the April meeting, and proposed a 7.35 percent rate at the July meeting. 

Performance of English learners is included in the state accountability system in two ways: as one of the student groups whose performance on STAAR influences accountability results for schools/districts, and via an English proficiency indicator in Domain 3/Closing the Gaps which mirrors federal ESSA requirements. (Click here for more details on ESSA requirements.)