Members of the State Board of Education allowed passage of a proposal during their Jan. 29, 2016, meeting regarding qualifications for superintendent certification in Texas after a controversial portion that would have permitted candidates to pursue certification without public education experience was removed.

The Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability held its inaugural meeting Jan. 21, 2016, to begin work on making recommendations for new state student assessment and school accountability systems. Click here for to learn more about the commission and how you can provide input.

Twenty-six Texas public schools were nominated for national 2016 Blue Ribbon Schools recognition, according to the Texas Education Agency. Founded in 1982, Blue Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education program that recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels. Click here to see the nominees.

The Texas Education Agency is moving forward with its proposal for a new state-recommended teacher evaluation system: the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System, or TTESS. Unfortunately, the proposal contains remnants of a requirement under Texas’s federal ESEA waiver to include student growth as a significant factor in individual teacher appraisals, despite changes to federal law that nullify these waiver requirements. Click here to read more.

Mike Morath officially became the new Texas Commissioner of Education on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, when he was administered the oath of office in Austin. Read more.

The Texas Senate Education Committee started interim hearings Dec. 8, 2015, with the first hearing focusing on interim charges regarding charter schools and inappropriate teacher-student relationships. TCTA’s General Counsel, Lonnie Hollingsworth Jr., testified on both charges. Read more.

The TRS board and staff are considering whether to put up the ActiveCare plan administration contract for bid in January. Under normal circumstances, the contract would be extended at this point, after only two years of operation, but Aetna experienced some serious problems this fall that have eroded confidence in the company. Read more.

In what many would have considered impossible after eight years of delay, the U.S. House of Representatives took an historic vote on Dec. 2, 2015, to approve, 359-64, a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now called the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” On Dec. 9, the Senate also approved the bill, 85-12, and President Barack Obama signed it into law on Dec. 10. Read more

Following a close vote to advance it by the State Board for Educator Certification, a controversial superintendent certification proposal was considered and rejected by the State Board of Education at its meeting this week. TCTA circulated a letter opposing the proposal to SBOE members prior to the meeting and testified against it at the meeting, pointing out that the part of the proposal allowing school districts to hire someone with no educational experience who would then be eligible for superintendent certification was an abdication of the state’s responsibility to ensure that all candidates for certification possess the necessary knowledge and skills necessary to improve student performance. Read more

The Teacher Retirement System mailed out annual statements in October, and some members may have questions about the salary information in their statement. The issue at hand affects a minority of members: those who are in districts that used to report their employees’ salaries based on the month in which they were earned rather than the month in which they were paid. Read more