Democratic and Republican Party primaries March 1 decided who will appear on the November ballot in many statewide, congressional, State Board of Education and legislative races. But candidates failed to reach the 50-percent mark in 22 races, meaning eligible voters will head back to the polls May 24 for runoffs between the top two candidates. Click here to read more.

The Joint Committee on TRS Health Benefit Plans held its second meeting Wednesday, April 13, 2016, to discuss the benefits and costs associated with TRS-ActiveCare. Legislators also touched on overall funding, which affects all school employees whether enrolled in ActiveCare or a local health insurance plan.

TCTA filed a lawsuit Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in response to new state rules governing teacher appraisal systems. In the petition filed in Travis County District Court, TCTA argues the education commissioner exceeded his authority by dictating specific criteria that local school districts must use in developing their own appraisal systems. Read more

TCTA has challenged the Texas education commissioner’s new rules regarding teacher appraisal. In a lawsuit filed April 20, 2016, in Travis County District Court, TCTA argues the commissioner has exceeded his authority by dictating specific criteria that local school districts must use in developing their own appraisal systems. Read more

There is no easy answer. That phrase, or some version of it, popped up repeatedly Wednesday as a special panel of state lawmakers began figuring out how to address skyrocketing premiums for teachers under state-run health insurance plans. Read more

TCTA successfully persuaded the Texas Education Agency to eliminate rule language requiring prekindergarten teachers to get 150 continuing professional education hours in prekindergarten in order to teach in a new $130 million prekindergarten grant program. In submitting comments on proposed TEA rules implementing a new high-quality prekindergarten grant program as required by the passage of HB 4 last session, TCTA also convinced TEA to include a requirement a school district/charter school receiving such a grant must attempt to maintain an average ratio in any prekindergarten program class of not less than one certified teacher or teacher's aide for every 11 students. TEA recently issued final rules granting both of TCTA’s requests. The rules became effective April 6, 2016. Read more.

TCTA testified March 29, 2016, in a joint hearing before the Senate Higher Education and Education committees on the topic of teacher retention. 

The committees met to consider several of the interim charges they had been assigned, including one to study teacher shortage and retention issues in Texas, in particular those related to English Language Learner, special education, and STEM educators across the state; as well as to evaluate educator preparation programs to determine if these programs are preparing educators for the rigors of the 21st century classroom. Read more

On April 7, the Texas Education Agency released details about the launch of new statewide reading and math academies this summer. A major education initiative of Gov. Greg Abbott, the academies will provide high-quality, face-to-face professional development to elementary-level public school teachers. Read more

UPDATE: Students in grades 5 and 8 who encountered online testing issues that disrupted the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams in math and reading in March 2016 will not be required to retest in the May or June 2016 SSI administrations, Education Commissioner Mike Morath said April 20. After logging in, some students were provided with an incorrect version of the test.

H-E-B recently named regional finalists for its 2016 Excellence in Education Awards. This year's group includes four TCTA members. Click here to see all the finalists.