Educator certification exam retake limit change begins Sept. 1

Candidates are limited to five attempts to pass a certification exam under Texas Education Code §21.048. A subsection of the law that currently counts all attempts of the same exam taken before Sept. 1, 2015, as only one attempt is set to expire. Beginning Sept. 1, 2018, all attempts of the same exam, no matter when they occurred, will count toward the five-attempt testing limit regardless of when the exam was first attempted.  

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TRS Board votes 5-4 to lower return rate assumption for pension fund

The TRS Board of Trustees voted at its July meeting on a 5-4 vote to lower the return rate assumption for the pension fund from the current 8 percent to 7.25 percent. The employee representatives on the board, including former TCTA presidents Dolores Ramirez and Nanette Sissney, as well as Greg Gibson and Dick Nance, voted against the 7.25 percent rate. This group of trustees supported a 7.5 percent rate at the April meeting, and proposed a 7.35 percent rate at the July meeting. 

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USDE denies TEA request to waive English learner progress in 2018 accountability results

Performance of English learners is included in the state accountability system in two ways: as one of the student groups whose performance on STAAR influences accountability results for schools/districts, and via an English proficiency indicator in Domain 3/Closing the Gaps which mirrors federal ESSA requirements. (Click here for more details on ESSA requirements.)

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TEA releases 2018-19 teacher shortage areas

The U.S. Department of Education has approved TEA's list of teacher shortage areas for the 2018-19 school year.

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TCTA successful in strengthening and clarifying teacher qualifications for bilingual/ESL assignments

TCTA was successful in persuading TEA to make clear in its final program rules for bilingual/ESL education that only teachers who are appropriately certified can be assigned to teach in these programs, unless a district receives a temporary waiver from TEA. An inappropriately certified teacher must be placed on a permit to work toward appropriate certification. 

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TRS Board to revisit controversial rate change

Next week, at its July 26-27 meeting, the TRS Board is scheduled to take action on a key financial issue that will affect the TRS pension fund and the future of retiree benefits – a recommendation to lower the fund’s assumed rate of investment returns from 8 percent to 7.25 percent. TCTA opposes this major shift. We have advocated a more moderate change as well as a phase-in of any significant reduction. We encourage educators to contact the TRS Board to express your concerns.

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Lawmakers discuss mental health and school safety

Texas lawmakers continue to hold meetings to discuss school safety and security following the deadly shooting in May at Santa Fe High School. Officials focused on mental health services for students during meetings July 16 and July 18.

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TEA tells districts to collect and retain special education evaluation referral data

In a July 18, 2018, letter, TEA informed school districts of the actions they are required to start taking as part of the state corrective action plan Texas submitted to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs in April. TEA submitted the plan in response to a federal monitoring report that required TEA to correct areas of deficiency, including the proper identification of special education students and assuring access to appropriate services at the local level. 

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TCTA testifies at House hearing on school safety

During a June 27 hearing before the House Public Education Committee and the Committee on Public Health, TCTA testified about the need for increased teacher support in regard to mental illness.

Supreme Court ruling against unions has no direct effect on Texas teachers

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Illinois statute requiring non-union public employees to pay "agency fees" to the union representing the employees, expressly overruling a 1997 Supreme Court decision that had approved such required payments. 

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