TCTA works to reduce required training for teachers in several bills

Every session, teacher training is seen as a remedy for some of the most problematic aspects of public education, and every session TCTA spends many hours with well-meaning legislators to try to mitigate the impact of these increasing demands on teacher time.

Let us be clear — we agree that the topics that teachers must be trained on under state law address very important issues. But TCTA has growing concerns that (a) teachers, as professionals, are not being given opportunities to select the type of training that is most useful for them, and (b) the growing list of required training is becoming excessive and frequently repetitive, leaving less time for self-selected professional development opportunities.

We succeeded in reducing required training in many proposals that were considered, but there were still a number of changes to training requirements that passed in the 2019 session. Click here to read more.
TRS Board considers a move, new funding policy

The TRS Board of Trustees held its final board meeting of 2019 on Dec. 12-13 in Austin. The board received a briefing on the financial health of the fund, in which the actuaries noted the long-term benefits of legislative decisions to increase contributions.

TCTA addressed the board about a proposal under consideration to move TRS out of its current downtown Austin building, urging caution and encouraging more discussion and public input before a final decision is made.

The board also discussed a proposed funding policy, removing a provision that would have made it difficult to provide future benefit increases. Board members also heard a presentation on health insurance issues and appointed Trustee Nanette Sissney , a former TCTA state president, as vice-chair. Sissney also serves as chair of the TRS Budget Committee. Click here to read more.
TEA releases new details on K-3 literacy academies

In a recent video, the Texas Education Agency released more information regarding the rollout of new literacy achievement academies. House Bill 3 requires teachers and principals in grades K-3 to enroll in a reading academy by summer of 2022.

Along with outlining the timeline for selecting and training reading academy providers, TEA also announced plans to temporarily exempt special area teachers (such as music, art and P.E. teachers) from the training requirements.

TEA anticipates it will take about 80 hours to complete the training and encourages school districts to schedule participation in one of the three approved models within designated campuswide professional development days. Click here for more information.
State-ordered study finds 2019 STAAR tests within acceptable reading levels

Responding to complaints about the readability of STAAR tests, Texas lawmakers included provisions in HB 3 that required the commissioner of education to study the exams used in grades 3-8 to examine whether the assessments are written at an appropriate reading level, whether they only include content aligned with TEKS for that or earlier grades, and whether they only include passages written at the reading level or below for the grade level taking the assessment. 

The University of Texas at Austin released its report on 2018-19 STAAR tests in early December. It found that the vast majority of passages were within or below the test’s grade level, and that most questions aligned with what the state expects students to learn in each subject. But the researchers struggled to determine whether the test questions were too challenging for students. They concluded that analyzing the complexity of the test questions "in a reliable manner for this report is not possible." The report on 2019-20 STAAR tests will be released by Feb. 1.  Click here to read more.
TEA releases new details about teacher incentive fund allotment cohorts

In a Dec. 12 letter to administrators, TEA outlined four cohorts and possible timelines for districts to apply for the teacher incentive fund allotment 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. The district will receive funding for each designated teacher, with 90% going toward teacher salaries on the campus. TEA instructed interested districts to determine which cohort fits best and submit a letter of intent by Jan. 24, 2020. Click here to read more.

Districts can use CCMR outcomes bonus for training
TEA also released information this week identifying the allowable use of funds that districts will receive for preparing students for college, a career, and the military. One option will allow districts to use the College, Career and Military Readiness Outcomes Bonus for teacher training. Click here to read more.
District appeals decision to reinstate teacher fired over tweets sent to president

An ongoing battle between a school district and a teacher whose contract was terminated after she sent tweets to President Trump regarding illegal immigration is likely headed to district court. The teacher claims her tweets were protected free speech, an argument supported by an independent hearing examiner and the commissioner of education, who determined the teacher should be reinstated. But district trustees decided to appeal the commissioner's ruling to district court, claiming the tweets violated the district's professional conduct standards. Click here to read more.
Watch your mailbox for a new Classroom Teacher magazine

The next edition of The Classroom Teacher magazine will be mailed to members next week.
This issue includes:
  • An overview of House Bill 3 requirements that will bring changes to classrooms
  • An explanation of a new law that requires teachers to preserve emails, texts and other school-related communications completed on their personal cellphones.
  • An interview with TCTA 2019-20 State President Albert Mosqueda
  • Information about the candidates for statewide office in 2020
  • The 2019-20 professional liability insurance policy
School honors teacher for 26 years of perfect attendance

TCTA congratulates member Sharon Bradley who was recently honored by Garland ISD for 26 years of perfect attendance. The 85-year-old teaches health science at Naaman Forest High School. Click here to read more.
UTSA to waive tuition, fees for low-income students

The University of Texas at San Antonio is the latest state college to announce plans to waive tuition for low-income students. Beginning this fall, UTSA will cover tuition and fees for eight semesters for students whose families have an income below $50,500. UTSA estimates 4,100 freshmen could qualify. Click here to read more.
Looking for holiday gifts? We've got you covered!

Explore TCTA's cost-saving programs and save on holiday gifts, travel and more this season. Click here to log in using your email address as your username and TCTA member number ( ) as your password. Then click on the cost-saving programs tab to find company codes and special links to start saving. If you have trouble logging in, call the Membership Department at 888-879-8282.
  • TCTA Headquarters will be closed Dec. 23-Jan. 3 for Winter Break.
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