The 2017 Texas Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year were named at an Oct. 14, 2016, luncheon in Austin. The Elementary Teacher of the Year, also selected as the Texas nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition, is Allison Ashley of Austin ISD. The Secondary Teacher of the Year is Deborah Campbell of San Angelo ISD. Three TCTA memebers were finalists and seven others were recognized as Regional Teachers of the Year. Click here to read more.

Almost two years and 4,800 public comments after releasing controversial proposed rules for teacher preparation programs under the federal Higher Education Act, the U.S. Department of Education adopted final rules last week. After TCTA and others called into question USDE’s proposal to base teacher preparation program accountability “in significant part” on the performance of graduates’/new teachers’ students on state tests, USDE backed down, revising the rules to be much less prescriptive. Click here to read more.

Our statewide awards honor those who have made outstanding contributions to public education, the teaching profession or TCTA during the past year. Participation in the awards program is an opportunity for TCTA local affiliates and members-at-large to publicly recognize local members and others who impact their schools and profession. It's also a great way for CTAs to attract positive attention from the media, peers and administrators. Nominations are due by Feb. 15, 2017. Click here for more information.

The 2017 TCTA Representative Assembly will convene Feb. 2-3, 2017, at the Sheraton Hotel at the Capitol in Austin during TCTA's convention. (The TCTA Directors' Council will meet Feb. 1.) During the two-day convention, delegates will have the opportunity to visit the Capitol and meet with their legislators, determine TCTA’s priorities for the 2017 legislative session, earn several hours of CPE credit, vote for statewide officers, and consider any submitted governance amendments. TCTA members attending the convention also will have the opportunity to talk to TCTA attorneys at the Ask-A-Lawyer booth, hear from TCTA legislative staff and more. Click here for details.

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.

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