Learn more about mid-year and early retirement
Veteran teachers may be considering retirement this year, possibly earlier than they had planned. There are several points to be aware of if you are thinking about changing your retirement plans, including leaving mid-year.

You may be able to receive a full year of TRS credit after completing the fall semester, but there are some important details you need to know. And while you can take early retirement before you meet full eligibility, there are substantial penalties. Click here to read more.
UIL amends no pass/no play rule on 'incomplete' grades

As many districts across the state approach the end of the first six weeks of school, UIL is amending its guidance related to “incomplete” grades for no pass/no play. State law requires that all schools check grades for students participating in extracurricular activities at the end of the first six weeks. While that will not change, UIL is extending the grace period at the end of the grading period from seven days to 14 days for “incomplete” grades to be made up or changed to a passing grade before a student loses eligibility. This change is for the 2020-21 school year only. Click here to read more.
Volunteers needed for state COVID-19 antibody study

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health is seeking volunteers for its Texas Coronavirus Antibody Response Survey. The Texas CARES project will be facilitated by a partnership of healthcare organizations across the state as researchers aim to learn more about how people respond to COVID-19. Click here to learn more and to volunteer.

Teachers among those who can get vaccine first

Texas health care workers, other essential workers (including educators), Texans who are 65 and older and those who are at increased risk of illness because of underlying medical conditions will have first access to a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available, according to guidelines published this week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The first vaccines could be available by the end of year or early in 2021, health officials have said. But requirements for robust scientific study and regulatory decision-making, coupled with efforts needed to scale up manufacturing and distribution of millions of possible doses, likely mean that a vaccine will not be widely available until the second half of 2021. Click here to read more.

Check out what's new in our COVID-19 FAQs

We continue to update our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues to help members understand guidance from federal and state officials.
  • We updated information about special education, including questions about ARD committees and testing students for eligibility.
While this information is not legal advice, we hope it helps answer questions you may have about COVID-19's impact on schools. Members who have specific concerns or questions should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282 to speak with a staff attorney.
TEA adopts emergency rule on dyslexia screening

TEA adopted an emergency rule for districts that used the governor’s waiver of the end-of-year dyslexia screener for kindergartners in the 2019-20 school year. The emergency rule requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to provide a reading diagnostic at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, or at a time designated by the commissioner should circumstances make this infeasible, followed up with the screening requirement by the end of January 2021. These measures should allow districts to identify students at risk of dyslexia and determine the interventions necessary to assist them.
TEA adds resources to its Texas Home Learning platform

The Texas Education Agency has released the next set of instructional materials – covering K-12 English Language Arts and Reading, K-5 Spanish Language Arts and Reading, and K-5 Science – to school systems through the Texas Home Learning 3.0 initiative. Like other THL 3.0 offerings, these instructional materials are optional, digitized, and aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Click here to learn more.
Early voting starts Tuesday

Early voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 13, and ends Oct. 30 ahead of the Nov. 3 general election. Gov. Greg Abbott extended early voting this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Texas Supreme Court this week affirmed Abbott's decision after a challenge from other members of the Republican Party. Oct. 23 is the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot. Check out TexasTeachersVote.org for more about candidates for the Texas House and Senate, including voting records on education issues and survey responses, and go to Vote411.org to see what's on the ballot where you live.
Firefighter claims First Amendment protects post

A firefighter sued the Houston Fire Department after he was transferred and suspended as the result of a post he made in a private Facebook group. He claimed the disciplinary action violated his First Amendment right to free speech. A district court dismissed the case, as did the court of appeals, saying firefighters and other public employees (including teachers) only have a right to free speech in regard to "matters of public concern." In this case, the firefighter commented on a job posting in a private social media page, which the court said did not address a public matter. Click here to read more.
New elementary certification requirement starts Jan. 1

TEA is reminding those seeking elementary-level certification that they must demonstrate their proficiency in the science of teaching reading on a new standalone certification exam beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The new requirement applies to the following certificates:
  • Early Childhood: EC–Grade 3
  • Core Subjects: Early Childhood–Grade 6
  • Core Subjects: Grades 4-8
  • English Language Arts and Reading: Grades 4-8
  • English Language Arts and Reading/Social Studies: Grades 4-8
Candidates who complete certification by Dec. 31, 2020, will not be affected.

Teachers who are currently standard certified in Core Subjects: EC-6, Core Subjects: 4-8, English Language Arts and Reading: 4-8, or English Language Arts and Social Studies: 4-8 will not be required to pass the STR exam for renewal of their certificate. Click here to read more.
Travel the Timeline of the Texas Revolution online

The Alamo is planning a virtual road trip along the Timeline of the Texas Revolution this weekend, Oct. 10-11. Experts from Texas historic sites will be featured in a series of videos released on the Alamo's Facebook page. No registration is necessary, and videos will remain available after the weekend for teachers and others who want to explore Texas history.
Encourage your colleagues to join TCTA with Take 2/Make $25!

We put together this video of the Top 10 Reasons to Join TCTA. Share it with your colleagues and encourage them to join TCTA. You could earn $25 for every two eligible Active-level members you recruit through Dec. 31 with our Take 2/Make $25 program. Click here for details.
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