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The TRS Board met Dec. 13 and 14 in Austin with a few key items on the agenda. The board received a briefing on the actuarial status of the pension fund, learning that, as expected, recent board action resulted in lowered financial indicators. Trustees were also provided with TRS staff's update of a 2013 study that reaffirms the cost-effectiveness of the current structure of the pension plan.

During a December meeting, Texas Education Agency staff presented the State Board for Educator Certification with a phased-in certification redesign proposal that would require teacher certification candidates to pass a subject-specific pedagogical performance assessment before becoming certified, starting in 2022-23. Still in the discussion stages, the new requirements would not apply to currently certified teachers adding certification by examination.

Republicans continue to dominate state politics as Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and other statewide officeholders all won re-election Tuesday, but Democrats made gains in the Texas Legislature.

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 March 15, 2019. Click here for more information.

After the Texas Education Agency announced in late September that it was accepting waiver requests from school districts that are unable to provide bilingual or English as a Second Language certified teachers for the required bilingual and ESL programs, it then published a document specifying that school districts applying for these waivers can use state bilingual allotment funds to reimburse teachers for certification tes

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) have re-filed a late-session bill that would revise the calculation of benefits for Texas teachers and other employees who are currently subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The bill also was filed in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as S. 3526. Given that Congress is in its last several weeks of the current congressional session, the bills are unlikely to progress.

The Texas Education Agency is seeking educators to work with its contractor, Safal Partners, to review English language arts and reading instructional materials in grades 3-8 to evaluate their quality.

After adopting rule changes increasing the certification requirements for teachers in bilingual or English as a Second Language programs, TEA’s Division of English Learner Support recently issued a statement to clear up some common misconceptions regarding the requirements, chiefly that not all English language arts and reading teachers need to obtain ESL certification to meet the new regulations. 

After gaining the support of the State Board of Education in September, TCTA took the final step in a successful fight to prevent expansion of an abbreviated route into teaching at the State Board for Educator Certification's Oct. 5, 2018, meeting. During testimony, TCTA persuaded the SBEC board to back the original proposal it reviewed in March, ensuring that teacher preparation programs continue to require at least 150 hours of pre-service training for most certificates.
 

TEA is accepting waiver requests through Nov. 1 for districts and charter schools that are unable to provide bilingual or English as a Second Language certified teachers for the required bilingual and ESL programs. This follows a recent significant TEA rule change increasing the certification requirements for teachers in bilingual or ESL programs. TCTA has received calls from many content-area members who are being required by their school districts to obtain ESL certification immediately in order to meet the new rule requirements; however, the waivers will allow a reprieve from these provisions for the 2018-19 school year.