TCTA’s Paige Williams testified on a number of issues before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. The committee held two days of meetings on topics that included digital learning, school choice, Districts of Innovation (DOIs), and the conversion of the required length of the instructional year from days to minutes. Read more.

A recent article published by the Houston Chronicle detailed a TEA monitoring requirement that is alleged to have effectively lowered the number of students referred for special education across the state. The article examined the TEA target of 8.5 percent for an indicator in its Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System related to the percentage of students identified to receive special education services. When districts report a higher percentage of students referred for special education, TEA may conduct an audit. Not coincidentally, the percentage of special education students receiving services across Texas was 8.5 percent in 2015. Read more.

The Senate State Affairs Committee held a hearing Sept. 14, 2016, on an interim charge regarding whether governmental units (including school districts) should be prohibited from allowing employees to use payroll deduction for association dues. TCTA's Ann Fickel testified in opposition to any such proposal, noting that removing this existing option would not be seen as supportive of teachers. Read more.

The Texas attorney general issued an opinion this week that any attempt in TEA rules to put limits on video cameras in special education classrooms in school districts would likely exceed the commissioner’s authority. The Sept. 13, 2016, opinion was issued in response to a request from the Texas Education Agency for guidance on the legislation passed last session. Read more.

The Texas Education Agency closed the loop on a controversial new initiative by releasing final commissioner rules on Districts of Innovation this week. The rules further outline the provisions of the Education Code from which a qualifying district cannot be exempt. They also include responses to requests made by TCTA during public comment, including specifying that the district-level committee can serve as the committee developing the innovation plan, and that Districts of Innovation must notify the commissioner any time they amend, rescind or renew their plans. Click here to read more.

Three TCTA members are among the six finalists for the 2017 Texas Teacher of the Year Award. Julie GarzaCalvin Lambert and LaGay Pittenger will be among those interviewed by a panel of judges this fall before winners are announced Oct. 14. Seven other TCTA members were named regional finalists in the awards program coordinated by the Texas Association of School Administrators. Click here to read more.

TCTA presented invited testimony Aug. 16, 2016, to the Senate Education Committee as part of a panel addressing an interim committee charge related to raising the standards of teacher preparation programs. In addressing high-quality teacher preparation, TCTA focused on a key aspect that research shows leads to successful teaching careers: extensive pre-service exposure to real classrooms for teacher candidates. TCTA highlighted a clinical teaching model, which would involve financially supported, yearlong clinical co-teaching experiences for teacher candidates, and pointed to a recent report advocating such a model. Read more

TCTA ensured that provisions requiring school districts to give written notice to campus staff before putting video cameras in their classrooms were included in TEA’s finally adopted rules issued last week, implementing SB 507 from the 2015 session requiring video surveillance in certain special education settings in order to promote student safety. Read more

Texas has more than 1,200 public school districts, so it’s understandable that what works in one place may not always be good education policy in another. That’s why some districts are taking advantage of a 2015 law that allows them to become exempt from many provisions of the Texas Education Code — but are they making wise choices? Click here to find out.

TCTA President Donna Corbin was in Austin recently for the first meeting of a Texas Education Agency stakeholder group created to give input on state guidance regarding local implementation of federally required teacher equity plans. Read more