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.

Texas representative and Louisiana senator speak on Social Security offsets that harm teachers

On Oct. 3, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) made a statement on the Senate floor in support of eliminating the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) as part of the tax legislation being drafted in the House Ways and Means Committee. Texas Rep. Mike Conaway spoke against the WEP a week later on the House floor.

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New TRS rules on employment after retirement and other issues

The TRS Board of Trustees approved new and revised rules at its Sept. 22, 2017, meeting that may affect active members and future retirees. Some of the issues in these rules are complex and we strongly recommend that members contact TRS to discuss how their personal situations may be affected by the changes.

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Texas submits final ESSA plan to USDE for review

Texas submitted its final ESSA State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education for review and approval on Sept. 25, 2017, after posting a draft plan for public comment in late July. Although TCTA submitted comments urging the Texas Education Agency to do more to address inequitable gaps in the assignment of qualified teachers to poor and minority students, and to include more holistic measures of school success in the plan, the final plan changed very little in these areas. 

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Changes in T-TESS rules due to TCTA lawsuit become effective

Revisions to the Texas Education Agency's teacher appraisal rules, which were prompted by lawsuits filed by TCTA and three other groups, become effective Oct. 10, 2017.

Teacher paychecks can continue despite Hurricane Harvey-related school closures

At TCTA's urging, the Texas Education Agency sent a letter Tuesday notifying school district administrators that they can request permission from the commissioner to reduce teacher contract days without reducing salaries in the event of flooding or extreme weather, as allowed under current law. 

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