Across the Lawn – July 7, 2023

July 07, 2023  

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Raise Your Hand Texas has a front-row seat to the Capitol. From our vantage point, public education policy issues have never been more important, and this is why we must make every session a public education session.

One Thing To Do:

Provide Your Comments to the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment by July 17. 

The Select Committee is meeting on July 11 and 12 to hear invited testimony on: 

  • Educational opportunity and freedom to obtain a quality education
  • Improving student outcomes, supporting educators and institutions
  • Modernizing assessment and accountability measures for Texas schools

The Select Committee’s first report is due August 11, 2023. 

Texas residents who wish to electronically submit comments related to agenda items on this notice without testifying in person can do so by clicking the following button:

Submit Comments

Five Things to Know:

1. TEA Releases STAAR End-of-Course Scores, and Results Show Progress

The Texas Education Agency released the spring 2023 STAAR results for end-of-course (EOC) assessments. The results include assessments in Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and U.S. History. 

This year’s EOC results show progress and continued academic recovery among Texas public school students who endured multiple years of pandemic-induced disruptions to learning. The number of students who achieved “Approaches Grade Level” or above increased in all five tested subjects. Students must obtain an “Approaches Grade Level” score (or higher) on EOCs or equivalent exams as part of graduation requirements in Texas.

2. New Accelerated Instruction Requirements to Begin Next School Year 

HB 1416, passed during the 88th Regular Session, updates the requirements for how public schools provide accelerated instruction to students who do not achieve “Approaches Grade Level” or higher on STAAR test scores for grades 3 through 8 or EOC assessments. TEA will be providing a webinar on Thursday, July 15, to explain the new requirements, and you can sign up here. The new requirements include: 

  • Removing the requirement for Accelerated Learning Committees while requiring Accelerated Education Plan after a student fails to achieve “Approaches” or higher on two consecutive assessments in the same subject area 
  • Limiting tutoring to 2 subjects and no longer including optional assessment administrations
  • Increasing student-to-tutor ratio from 3:1 to 4:1 ratio for tutoring group size  
  • Reducing minimum hour requirement from 30 to 15 for some students 
  • Providing student-to-teacher ratio waivers for use of approved online curriculum 

3. Senate Passes Property Tax Relief Plan, House Committee Advances Its Version

Last week, the Senate passed SB 1 and SJR 1 relating to providing property tax relief through the public school finance system, as well as additional franchise tax relief. The legislation reduces all school district M&O tax rates by 10 cents, lowers the automatic tax compression from 2.5% to 1.75% (this provides variable tax rate reduction based on local school district value growth), increases the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000, and increases the revenue needed to be exempted from the business tax from $1 million to $2.7 million. The total package is estimated to cost $12.7 billion over the next two years.  

In addition, an amendment to SJR 1 was adopted on the Senate floor providing supplemental pay to teachers over the next two years ($2,000 for teachers in school districts with more than 20,000 students and $6,000 for teachers in school districts with less than 20,000 students). This provision requires voter approval in November 2023.  

The House Ways and Means Committee passed HB 1 and HJR 1 relating to reducing school district M&O tax rates by 16.2 cents. This is estimated to cost $12.3 billion over the next two years.  

4. Retired Teachers to Receive Supplemental Stipend in September, Additional Cost of Living Adjustment if Voters Approve

SB 10 and HJR 2 passed during the regular session provide two types of benefits to eligible Teacher Retirement System (TRS) retirees.

The one-time supplemental stipend for eligible retirees includes: 

  • A $7,500 stipend for eligible annuitants who are 75 years of age and older
  • A $2,400 stipend for eligible annuitants between the ages of 70-74

If voters approve in November 2023, the eligible annuitants will also receive a cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment: 

  • 6% COLA – Effective Date of Retirement: On or before 8/31/2001
  • 4% COLA – Effective Date of Retirement: From 9/1/2001-8/31/2013
  • 2% COLA – Effective Date of Retirement: From 9/1/2013-8/31/2020

5. Post 88th Legislative Session Recap

The 2023 legislative session started with a lot of promise. Lawmakers had a historic $33 billion dollar budget surplus, and there was energy and consensus to address a number of public education issues. Find out what decisions were made for Texas public education and get a full recap of the 88th Session by reading our A Session out of Balance blog or by listening to our latest podcast episode.

Tags: 88th Legislature Advocacy policy school choice Teacher Workforce vouchers

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