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86th Texas Legislature enacts many LRP recommendations

A number of recommendations from the State Board of Education’s Long-Range Plan from Public Education were enacted into law during the  recent legislative session.

The plan proposed changes under four main headings:

·         Equity and Access;

·         Student Empowerment and Engagement;

·         Family Empowerment and Engagement; and

·         Educator Preparation, Recruitment, and Retention.

Equity and Access

One Equity and Access recommendation called for advancing policies to increase educator and principal effectiveness through enhancing compensation systems, particularly compensation that encourages effective teachers to teach in schools not meeting state accountability goals. Enhancements should be meaningful, differentiated, sustainable, and developed in concert with local stakeholders.

House Bill (HB) 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, responds to this Long-Range Plan recommendation by establishing the Teacher Incentive Program, which has a goal of creating six-figure salaries for teachers and prioritizes high needs areas and rural campuses. Districts are to designate certain educators who meet established criteria as Master, Exemplary, or Recognized teachers for a five-year period.

A Master teacher can earn an extra $12,000 to $32,000 , an Exemplary teacher an extra $6,000 to $18,000, and a Recognized teacher an extra $3,000 to $9,000, based on a teacher’s placement in a campus that is rural or has a higher compensatory  education weight, under HB 3.

Student Empowerment and Engagement

As a way to empower students, the Long-Range Plan recommended financially incentivizing an integrated and data-drive academic and nonacademic multitiered system of support (MTSS) on every campus to identify and connect all students with appropriate support services, including supports for behavioral health, mental health, and intrapersonal and interpersonal effectiveness.

HB 18 and HB 19 by Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, address this issue. HB 18 requires mental health training for certain school employees. It adds curriculum requirements, counseling programs, educational programs, state and regional programs and services, and health care services for students.

HB 19 requires the Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) to employ a non-physician mental health professional to serve as a mental health and substance use resource for districts. The mental health professional will be housed at an education service center and will help implement mental health initiatives and help raise awareness among district employees about mental health and substance abuse issues.

Additionally, to empower students, the plan recommended that state assessment systems be more integrated, less disruptive, and more beneficial to students and teachers.  The assessment systems should also be highly inclusive of campus-level practitioners in their design and use multiple measures for assessing students.

HB 3906 by Huberty addresses this by authorizing the Texas Education Agency to divide the STAAR test into as many as three parts that can be delivered over more than day and in shorter time periods. The bill requires TEA and the State Board of Education to establish a transition plan for the electronic administration of STAAR beginning in September 2021 and establishes an integrated formative assessment pilot program.

The Long-Range Plan called for expanding high-quality learning opportunities for children, including formula-funded full-day prekindergarten, that furthers the goal of closing any gaps in educational proficiency by third grade.

HB 3 requires full-day prekindergarten for four-year-old children and requires the programs to comply with high quality pre-k measures already in statute. Districts and charter schools must consider a partnership with private providers. It also creates an early education allotment of 0.1 per average daily attendance for students who are educationally disadvantaged or have limited English proficiency.

Educator Preparation, Recruitment, and Retention

The Long-Range Plan called for school districts and educator preparation programs to collaborate and partner to align teaching methods and strategies and develop clinical training and practicum experiences to better prepare educators to meet students needs and improve student outcomes.

HB 3 addresses this in part by requiring the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to adopt rules that require all new prekindergarten through sixth-grader teachers to pass a science of teaching reading exam effective Jan. 1, 2021.

Another plan recommendation that helps support educators calls for providing timely guidance, training, mentoring, and support for new, early career, and veteran educators.

Provisions in HB 3 again address Long-Range Plan priorities by establishing a teacher mentorship program to fund stipends for mentors and other costs associated with mentoring teachers in their first two years in the classroom.

HB 2424 by Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, addresses a recommendation to provide incentives and support to teachers to engage in internships, externships, leadership opportunities, and ongoing professional development as part of continuing education.

This bill requires SBEC to adopt rules establishing continuing education courses including opportunities for educators to receive micro-credentials in fields of study related to the educator’s certification class.