In response to the charges issued by Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan for all House committees for the interim between the 87th and 88th Texas Legislatures, the House Public Education Committee released this interim report, dated December 2022. Following is a summary of the report.
Summary of House Public Education Committee Interim Report
Charge I: Implementation of Legislation
Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee will also specifically include:
- HB 1525 and HB 3 (86R), relating to public school finance and public education;
- HB 4545, relating to assessment of public-school students and providing accelerated instruction;
- SB 1365, relating to public school organization, accountability, and fiscal management;
- SB 1716, relating to supplemental special education services and instructional materials for certain public-school students; and
- HB 3906 (86R), relating to the assessment of public-school students, including the development and administration of assessment instruments, and technology permitted for use by students.
Recommendation for HB 1525 and HB 3 (86R) Finance
- Special Education: The Committee recommends the Legislature move to a funding model that allocates funding based on the intensity of services delivered, rather than the instructional setting in which the special education student is served.
- Fast Growth Allotment: The Committee recommends the Legislature remove the appropriation limits beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.
- Additional day school year: The Committee recommends the Legislature reduce the 180-day requirement to 175 days.
- Career & Technology Education: The Committee recommends the Legislature increase appropriations for CTE summer grants. The Committee also recommends the Legislature dedicate appropriations for small/rural districts to help these schools expand their CTE offerings, inclusive of remote options like computer science.
- School Safety Allotment: The Committee recommends the Legislature increase appropriation to the school safety allotment to provide funding for adequate school safety and security measures.
Recommendations for HB 4545 Accelerated Instruction
- The Committee recommends the Legislature remove the sunset provision and fund HB 4545 through General Revenue.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature eliminate the accelerated learning committees.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature clarify conditions under which parents can opt-out their child of accelerated instruction requirements.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature require accelerated instruction only for reading and math and eliminate the requirements for science and social studies.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature maintain evidenced-backed student-to-tutor ratio.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature allow schools reasonable flexibility of mandated hours based on students’ academic needs.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature codify language to clarify that special education or dyslexia interventions count toward House Bill 4545 requirements.
Recommendations for SB 1365 Accountability
- The committee recommends that the Legislature allow the reforms of SB 1842 (84R), HB 22 (85R), and SB 1365 (86R) to remain in place before any large changes are made to the accountability system.
- The Committee recommends legislation to ensure that appointed conservators are successful school superintendents and that superintendents who are hired in multi-year Improvement Required campuses demonstrate a robust history of service as a principal or school administrator.
Recommendations for SB 1716 Supplemental Education Services
- The Committee recommends the Legislature remove the expiration date and continue funding the SSES program.
- The Committee recommends TEA establish an annual application cycle with fixed application and acceptance dates.
- The Committee recommends the option for families to roll over unused funds across fiscal years to improve service availability.
Recommendations for HB 3906 (86R) Online Assessment
- The Committee recommends the Legislature maintain summative, comparative, annual assessments in key subjects.
- The Committee recommends continued monitoring and biannual evaluation of the innovative changes being implemented in the state’s assessment system through HB 3906 in terms of usage data, improvements in instructional alignment, student outcomes, and stakeholder input.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature create enabling conditions in funding for the continued rollout of the Texas Through-Year Assessment Pilot (TTAP) through the move to an operational computer-adaptive test.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature support scoring automation where appropriate to reduce costs while ensuring reliability of assessment grading.
Charge II: Texas-Mexico Border
Examine the impact, including any financial impact, to the Texas public school system of an increase in the number of children crossing the Texas-Mexico border. Review the history, any applicable precedents, and the legal landscape regarding the education of migrant children in Texas’ public schools.
No recommendations listed for Interim Charge II.
Charge III: Parent Empowerment
Identify and examine efforts to ensure that parents have a meaningful role in their children’s education. Recommend necessary changes in both independent school district board and open-enrollment charter governing board governance to protect the right of parents to participate in their child’s education.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature provide a statutory requirement to create a uniform parental grievance process for all traditional school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to follow, where a resolution must be reached within 120 days.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature ensure Chapter 26 specifically applies to open-enrollment charter schools.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature provide more transparency around public school options for students and families.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature continue to reform intra- and inter-district polices to best address student and family needs.
Charge IV: Education and Workforce Partnerships
Examine partnerships between K-12, higher education institutions, and employers that promote postsecondary and career readiness and identify current obstacles that public schools, higher education institutions, and employers face. Make recommendations to ensure career and technical education programs, internships, apprenticeships, and other opportunities are more accessible.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature incentivize career and technical education programs, internships, apprenticeships, dual credit courses, and postsecondary credentials, in each case, aligned to regional workforce demand.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature increase need-based financial aid for dual credit courses as well as postsecondary credentials aligned to regional workforce demand to make them more accessible.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature support and expand partnerships for paid work-based learning programs, including internship and apprenticeships.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature support the creation and expansion of short-term workforce programs in high demand fields.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature set a deadline for the dissemination of timely and actionable data by the Tri-Agency to support programs aligned to workforce demands and overall student outcomes.
Charge V: Teacher Workforce
Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce, and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Explore the impact of the educator preparation program regulatory environment. Make recommendations to improve educator recruitment, retention, and preparation throughout the state. (Joint charge with Committee on Higher Education)
- The Committee recommends the Legislature reduce financial barriers to high-quality educator training and completion of teacher credential exam.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature direct TEA, in consultation with SBEC and THECB, to establish and incentivize articulated pathways from K-12 institutions, community colleges, and four-year institutions to shorten time to degree and certification through stackable credentials and required transfer degrees for teacher candidates.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature create a website for educator preparation programs and detailed educator preparation program information to provide more transparency around practices and outcomes of different educator preparation programs.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature incentivize development and enhancement of innovative partnerships to strengthen the educator pipeline and increase degree completion: a) Increase flexibility for how GYO funding can be used, and which institutions can directly receive funding; b) Provide funding for development or enhancement of integrated community college and four-year institution pathways; c) Provide a living stipend to all students completing clinical fieldwork, residencies, or internships.
- If funds are available, the Committee recommends the Legislature appropriate funding for the cost of certification testing fees for new teachers, especially those obtaining high-need certifications for a certain period.
- If funding is available, the Committee recommends the Legislature invest in teacher salaries and compensation.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature amend the Teacher Incentive Allotment qualifications to recognize that National Board-certified teachers are designated as exemplary.
- If funding is available, the Committee recommends the Legislature increase the state’s contribution to employee health insurance and require schools to maintain a matching local contribution per month.
- If funding and statute allows, the Committee recommends the Legislature provide a supplemental financial support for retired teachers.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature increase the support for the Mentor Program allotment, while maintaining a rigorous bar for mentor-teacher qualifications.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature appropriate funding for behavior interventionist to provide teachers with additional support in the classroom to address student discipline issues.
Charge VI: COVID-19 and Learning Loss
Study the effects of COVID-19 on K-12 learning loss and best practices that exist to address learning loss. Monitor the implementation of state and local plans to address students’ achievement gaps. Make recommendations for supporting the state and local efforts to increase academic development.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature expand data collection on local academic recovery plans and LEA ESSER Formula fund expenditures to ensure quality implementation of learning acceleration supports. The Legislature should define the data tracking requirements and provide resources and tools for districts to reduce data collection complexity and ensure compliance.
- The Committee recommends the provision of funding for evidence-based targeted support and intervention strategies with a quality framework to ensure LEAs contract high-quality third party partnerships with a proven track record of accelerating learning.
Charge VII: COVID-19 and Mental Health
Examine the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system. Make recommendations to reduce or eliminate existing barriers to providing mental health services in a traditional classroom or through teletherapy.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature monitor TEA’s implementation to ensure that all public schools have appropriately implemented SB 179 passed by the 87th Texas Legislature. Additionally, the Legislature should consider expanding the scope of SB 179 to include other school-based mental health professionals.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature should explore the necessary statutory changes to ensure that school-based mental health professionals are defined in statute and that their respective roles and responsibilities are also defined.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature should explore necessary statutory changes to expand the School Safety Allotment to be used on mental health and school climate strategies.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature should explore opportunities to increase the number of mental health and behavioral professionals on campuses by supporting teletherapy providers, incentivizing degree completion or incentivizing work at campuses with higher “at-risk” populations.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature exempt school psychologists from the jurisprudence exam to allow for more efficient and timelier placement of providers.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature enact state reciprocity agreements to honor school psychologist licensure from other states without reducing quality standards during times of workforce shortages.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature allow providers who hold the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential have an expedited route to licensure.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature provide statutory authority to ensure the state Medicaid program covers teletherapy services delivered by Licensed Specialists in School Psychology, social workers, licensed mental health workers and licensed counselors.
Charge VIII: Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability
Study the unfulfilled recommendations from the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. Evaluate the state’s progress on assessments and accountability and consider possible legislation to support the recommendations from the report. Study and recommend measures needed at the state level to prevent unintended consequences to students, campuses, and districts, including changes that could improve the system for students or help public schools serving a disproportionate number of educationally disadvantaged students impacted by the pandemic.
- As the changes that were proposed by the Next Gen Commission that were allowable under federal law have been implemented or are currently in progress, the Committee does not make any recommendations connected with the Next Gen Commission’s recommendations.
- The Committee recommends against the inclusion of new indicators or metrics in the state accountability system that cannot maintain standards of validity, reliability, comparability, and fairness.
Charge IX: Curriculum and Instructional Materials
Monitor and analyze the state policy on curriculum and instructional materials used in public schools.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature provide funding for TEA to continue developing a robust open-source instructional material of high-quality instructional materials.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature consider policy to ensure more students have access to high -quality instructional materials, including but not limited to: a) Requiring LEAs to report unapproved instructional materials to TEA, and to be subject to a curriculum audit; b) Leveraging high-quality instructional materials for chronically underperforming campuses.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature ensure any changes to curriculum include parental transparency without increasing teacher workload.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature extend a greater focus on high- quality instructional materials at the educator preparation program (EPP) level.
Charge X: Chronic Absenteeism
Examine the causes and contributors for chronic absenteeism in public schools and its impact on student outcomes. Consider techniques and approaches that have been utilized by public schools to identify students who are chronically absent and return these students to classrooms.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature define chronic absenteeism in the Texas Education Code and add chronic absenteeism to the “at risk” category to better support these students.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature require TEA to report chronic absenteeism clearly, consistently, and in an easily accessible format to increase transparency and better target student supports.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature should continue to monitor statewide chronic absenteeism rates and rates of chronic absenteeism across student groups.
- The Committee recommends the Legislature should explore necessary statutory changes to require biennial reporting of chronic absenteeism rates from TEA.
Charge XI: Impact of Investments of the Permanent School Fund
Review the impact of investments of the Permanent School Fund by the State Board of Education in businesses and funds owned or controlled by the Russian government or Russian nationals and determine the need for investment restrictions. Consider the impact of any proposed investment restrictions on fund performance.
The Committee recommends once liquidity improves and there is greater clarity in market mechanics, PSF external managers should perform an orderly and prudent sale of assets.DOWNLOAD FULL INTERIM REPORT