State gets $3.1 billion more in new revenue estimate

Lawmakers will have $3.1 billion more to work with as they finalize the state budget for the next biennium, according to an updated revenue estimate from the comptroller's office. Increases in COVID-19 vaccinations and decreases in case counts and hospitalizations helped improve the state's economic outlook. The extra funds could help a bill that overhauls the state employee retirement system.

With a little over three weeks left in the session, education bills were mostly overshadowed Wednesday as attention focused on controversial bills. But some education bills gained approval, including SB 1365, which gives the commissioner of education more authority over low-performing schools.

A charter school governance bill opposed by most education organizations, including TCTA, was on the House floor late Wednesday. The bill failed to pass, but it may come up again this afternoon.

We have reached the point in the session where the legislature meets until late in the day on Thursdays, and often on Fridays, so sometimes newsworthy information doesn’t make it into eUpdate on Thursday afternoons. TCTA continues to provide daily Capitol updates on our website as important bills are moving. Check out the page on Friday or over the weekend to see what happened with the charter bill referenced above, a bill on today's House calendar that would eliminate some STAAR tests, legislation on Friday’s agenda to continue the move to online standardized testing, and more.

In next week’s eUpdate, we'll have a rundown of the best and worst bills we’re following as the end of the regular session approaches on May 31.
TEA seeks feedback on proposed STAAR changes

In 2019, lawmakers approved House Bill 3906, which says no more than 75% of a STAAR exam can be presented in a multiple-choice format beginning with the 2022-23 school year. TEA is seeking input from teachers, parents and other stakeholders on several new item types. Feedback can include suggestions on how to make the directions for an item type clearer, at which grade levels each item type would be appropriate, any concerns or difficulty interacting with an item type, or other comments. Click here to view the proposed sample items and submit feedback.

TEA continues to seek interested teachers, instructional coaches, campus and district content specialists, and campus administrators to serve on a variety of assessment-related committees and participate in focus groups to help develop an effective summative assessment that serves all Texas students equitably. Those interested should complete this application form.
Watch H-E-B's Tribute to Texas Teachers Saturday

H-E-B has been on a tour of Texas schools for the past few weeks, giving away prizes as it marks 20 years of its Excellence in Education program. Another $100,000 will given away during the Virtual Tribute to Teachers on Facebook Live from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, capping Teacher Appreciation Week festivities.
COVID-19 vaccinations may soon expand to teenagers

As the supply of COVID-19 vaccines begins to outpace demand, the pool of those eligible could soon expand to 12- to 15-year-olds.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA allowing its use in teens as early as next week. Federal health officials said vaccinating teenagers would help the U.S. reach herd immunity and slow the spread of COVID-19 variants.

About 36% of Texans age 16 and older are fully vaccinated. Now state efforts are shifting to encourage more people to sign up. Many pharmacies, including Walmart and Sam's Club, are beginning to allow walk-in vaccinations. H-E-B is also expanding availability across Texas as the state sends vaccines to doctor's offices and launches a TV and radio ad campaign.
District violates law when it moves principal to classroom

A principal filed a grievance, complaining about the district's decision to reassign her as a classroom teacher. The district's board of trustees denied the grievance, and she appealed to the commissioner of education, who determined the district's decision violated the law. Click here to find out why.
Get membership recruiting updates on Saturday, May 22

Mark your calendar and plan to join us at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 22, for the next Saturday Spotlight on Zoom. Persie Ngo-Hatchie, TCTA's director of membership, will talk about spring sign-ups, summer training workshops and plans for recruiting in the fall.

Local affiliate officers, faculty representatives and members interested in getting more involved in recruiting colleagues to TCTA are encouraged to attend this free, hourlong session, which will include time for questions.

State Board of Education updates TEKS review, revision timelines

Citing the need for more time to review and revise the recently updated science Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards, the State Board of Education decided to push back the timeline on its review of social studies and math TEKS. Social studies standards will be reviewed during the 2021-22 school year, and math will be reviewed during the 2022-23 school year, according to the updated schedule approved by SBOE members during April's meeting.
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  • Mother's Day is May 9.
  • STAAR testing takes place May 4-14.
  • May 31 is Memorial Day and the last day of the 87th Legislative Session.
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