In a To the Administrator Addressed letter on Dec. 12, 2019, TEA outlined cohorts and possible timelines for districts to apply for the teacher incentive fund allotment (TIA) authorized by House Bill 3. Eligible districts must have adopted a local teacher designation system designating a certified classroom teacher as a master, exemplary or recognized teacher for a five-year period based on the results of single or multi-year appraisals that comply with T-TESS or a locally developed appraisal process.

TEA instructed interested districts to determine which cohort fits best and submit a letter of intent by Jan. 24, 2020.

The funding available for the teacher incentive allotment varies by designation:

  • Recognized teachers, $3,000 to $9,000 per teacher;
  • Exemplary teachers, $6,000 to $18,000 per teacher;
  • Master teachers, $12,000 to $32,000 per teacher.

Teachers holding National Board Certification will automatically earn a recognized designation, regardless of whether a district has developed/implemented a local teacher designation system.

Districts with designated teachers serving at rural schools and schools with high levels of socio-economic need will receive higher allotments. For example, the allotment for an exemplary teacher at a rural school with the highest level of socio-economic need would get the full $18,000.

However, a key point is that the funding does not go directly to the designated teacher. Rather, the funding goes to the teacher’s school district, with the requirement that the district must use at least 90% of the funds for teacher compensation on the campus where the designated teacher works.

Although TEA has not yet developed rules for local teacher designation systems, the commissioner had indicated that his intent was to provide TIA funding for 2019-2020 to local school districts with existing programs that meet statutory and other requirements.

In the Dec. 12 letter, TEA stated that the first cohort of districts eligible for funding (Cohort A) are districts that already implement a strategic compensation plan based on teacher effectiveness and are paying teachers during the 2019-2020 school year based on teacher effectiveness data captured during the 2018-2019 school year.

Cohort B comprises districts that have developed a district-approved strategic compensation plan based on teacher effectiveness and intend to pay teachers in the 2020-2021 school year based on teacher effectiveness data captured during the 2019-2020 school year regardless of whether their system is approved for TIA designations.

Following this are Cohorts C (districts building their local designation system during the 2019-2020 school year and planning for a data capture year of 2020-2021); and Cohort D (districts planning to build a local designation system with a data capture year of 2021-2022 or later).

TEA provided the chart below to show the different steps in the timeline for each cohort, including when the Teacher Incentive Allotment funding would flow to the district.

Cohorts and Possible Timelines

Please note that these dates are subject to change. 

  Cohort A Cohort B Cohort C Cohort D
Design and Stakeholder Engagement 2017-2018 
(or earlier)
(or earlier)
(or earlier)
(or earlier)

Data Capture Year

2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022
System Submission to TEA for Review Spring 2020 Summer 2020 Spring 2020 Spring 2021
(or earlier)
Data Submission to Texas Tech for Review Spring/Summer 2020 Fall/Winter 2020 Fall/Winter 2021 Fall/Winter 2022
Determination of System Approval Late Summer 2020 Spring 2021 Spring 2022 Spring 2023
Initial State Funding Flows to Approved Districts Fall 2020 Spring 2021 or Fall 2021* Spring 2022 or Fall 2022* Spring 2023 or Fall 2023*

*Districts with approved systems can choose to delay the start of funding and the start of designations to the fall of the following school year.

TEA allows one-year waiver of student growth data for Cohorts A and B

Along with the timeline, TEA included a rubric (readiness checklist) for each cohort, identifying the standards that that TEA will use in approving applications for teacher incentive allotment funding and local teacher designation systems. For example, TEA will require Cohort A districts to describe and submit evidence of their current strategic compensation plan to TEA including their teacher observation system and student growth measures. 

However, for Cohorts A and B, TEA provided that “Note: Section 21.3521 of the Texas Education Code states that local designation systems must include both teacher observation data and student growth data. Districts that currently are implementing a strategic compensation system based on only one of these measures (either teacher observation or student growth, but not both) will be permitted to apply for a one-year waiver, since their current system pre-dates HB 3. Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, all districts must include both teacher observation data and student growth data in their local designation system.” 

Regarding student growth measures, TEA’s rubric provides that the district utilize student growth measures such as:

  • Value added measures based on STAAR or other normed, valid tests
  • Student learning objectives
  • Student portfolios
  • Pre- and post-tests

Assessments used to measure student growth must be valid and reliable, and assessments used to measure student growth are implemented with fidelity, according to vetted testing protocols.

Other items of interest in the TEA rubric include provisions addressing how districts will use TIA funds for teacher compensation, including that districts must develop a plan for how to allocate the funds flowing to campuses for teacher compensation. The plan should address what percent of funds will go to designated teachers and what percent will go toward other teacher compensation on the campus, if any.

TEA will require that districts clearly communicate to teachers at the beginning of the year any changes to the TIA amounts that teachers will receive during that school year.

Districts must have a plan to support designated teachers who are new to a campus including:

  • Providing context of the campus with respect to rural status and level of socio-economic need;
  • Providing best practices for achieving student growth on the new campus; and
  • Providing training on campus-based norms, traditions, and school culture.