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

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas Board of Trustees met Nov. 19-20 in Austin, considering several noteworthy issues and actions, including a review of the annual valuation, a fix for a salary reporting issue, Aetna enrollment struggles and the appointment of TCTA members to an advisory committee. Read more

A bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is expected to advance to the floor of the House as early as Dec. 2. Months after both chambers of Congress passed their versions of the rewrite to the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act this summer, a conference committee met Nov. 18-19, 2015, adopting eight amendments while constructing an agreement to reconcile differences in the bills. Get the details here.

In a bluntly worded response to Texas’s appeal of the U.S. Department of Education’s designation of the state’s ESEA waiver as "high-risk," USDE reaffirmed its threat that if Texas does not meet certain teacher evaluation system requirements by Jan. 15, 2016, Texas would lose its waiver after the 2015-16 school year. Read more.

Texas voters supported seven propositions to amend the Texas Constitution on Nov. 3, with all initiatives passing easily in statewide voting. About 11 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Read more.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has released a list of interim charges that will occupy House committees in the months leading up to the next legislative session, which begins in January 2017. Like his counterpart in the Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Straus has provided insight into the issues that are likely to be a priority next session in the chamber he leads. And while some issues, such as school choice and payroll deduction for public employees, will be examined by both the House and Senate, a large number of new topics made the House list.

In a delayed but welcomed announcement, the Obama administration is releasing new testing guidelines designed to address long-standing concerns about too much test taking. In releasing the plan, the U.S. Department of Education acknowledged "the administration bears some of the responsibility for" the issue. However, the guidelines fall short of sufficiently addressing  the amount of time spent preparing for testing, or the divisive issue of using student test performance in teacher evaluation. (Keep reading.)

Fourth- and eighth-grade students across Texas are outperforming their peers nationwide in math, according to test scores posted Oct. 28 by the federal government in the Nation’s Report Card.

TCTA participated in a panel at the TRS Health Care Town Hall Thursday, Oct. 22. TCTA’s Ann Fickel spoke about the great need for increased state funding, and provided information to the Board of Trustees showing that across the country, the majority of employers provide much higher contributions toward both employee-only and family coverage than school employees receive in Texas. Keep reading