Be on alert for scam seeking your school login information

The Texas Education Agency on Jan. 3 notified school administrators of a growing threat to K-12 school employees nationwide who are paid via direct deposit.

Cyber criminals are using phishing emails to attempt to gain account login information from users so they can change bank account information to reroute employees’ directly deposited paychecks.

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TRS meeting includes board briefing on pension fund health

The TRS Board of Trustees received a briefing on the annual actuarial valuation of the pension fund — the analysis of the retirement fund’s health as of Aug. 31, 2017. The valuation showed mostly positive news, including a 12.9 percent return on investments for the fiscal year, which was well above the assumed 8 percent. The TRS fund now holds more than $146 billion in overall assets, up from $134 billion in 2016.

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Educator political involvement drawing attention in Texas

Efforts encouraging Texas teachers and other school employees to become more involved in the 2018 statewide and legislative elections appear to have drawn the attention of certain statewide leaders and groups.

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TCTA ensures flexibility for CPE courses for teacher certificate renewal

During a recent effort to revise State Board for Educator Certification rules regarding continuing professional education requirements for standard teacher certificate renewal, TCTA was instrumental in ensuring that teachers continue to have as much flexibility as possible in selecting which CPE opportunities they pursue. 

Morath to seek federal accountability waiver to help hurricane-affected areas

In a significant victory for educators and students in Hurricane Harvey-impacted school districts, Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced Dec. 14 that he would seek a federal accountability waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the state has maximum flexibility as accountability decisions are made. TCTA and others had expressed concerns about whether student test results from hurricane-impacted schools would accurately represent students’ knowledge or ability, given the significant trauma and displacement many of them had experienced.

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Texas seeks waiver from federal cap on special education alternative assessments

In anticipation of slightly exceeding the federal 1 percent state-level cap on the percentage of students taking an alternative assessment, the Texas Education Agency posted for public comment a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education for the 2017-18 school year. TCTA submitted comments supporting the waiver request.

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TCTA member testifies at House Public Education Committee hearing

As Hurricane Harvey's impact continues to be felt across Southeast Texas, lawmakers gathered in Austin on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, to get an update on the recovery effort. The House Public Education Committee, led by Chair Dan Huberty, invited educators in the affected region to talk about the storm's impact, specifically whether the state needs to adjust accountability measures this year.

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TCTA member earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award

In a surprise ceremony Oct. 18, Katie Negen, a TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement master teacher at Slaton Junior High School in Slaton ISD, was presented with a 2017 Milken Educator Award.

The national award — which is often referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching” — recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education.

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Lawmakers learn more about school-related Harvey costs

Between an Oct. 2 Houston hearing of the House Appropriations Committee and an Oct. 12 Austin hearing of the House Public Education Committee, lawmakers have heard plenty from school officials and others along the Texas coast about the costs resulting from Hurricane Harvey.

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SBEC to seek input on training hours for new trade/industry workforce certificate

TCTA urged the State Board for Educator Certification in testimony to increase the number of training hours required for candidates from trade and industry professions seeking a new Trade and Industrial Workforce Training certificate. At TCTA’s suggestion, the board directed TEA staff to seek stakeholder input from educator preparation programs with experience in this area to determine how many more hours would reasonably be needed to sufficiently cover the curriculum. The revised proposal is next expected to be presented to SBEC at its March 2018 meeting.