Across the Lawn – May 5, 2023

May 05, 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:

Tell the House to rein in STAAR 

There is still time to let your House member know that our kids are more than one test on one day and  encourage them to support accountability reform in HB 4402! If you have already participated in our call to action, post it on social media and text it to five friends. 

Five Things to Know:

1. HB 4402, the A-F Accountability Bill, to be Discussed Monday in House

HB 4402 was postponed until Monday, May 8. It was pulled from the agenda late Thursday night and not debated. 

So far, HB 4402 has received over 9,000 messages of support from Raise Your Hand Texas advocates, showcasing the support for improving our state’s A-F campus and district A-F school accountability rating system.  

The bill will accomplish the following: 

  • Adds three new non-test indicators to the Student Achievement Domain: extra- and co-curricular student success, parent and teacher satisfaction, and middle school accelerated math 
  • For grades 3-8, limits STAAR to no more than 80% and new indicators to no more than 20% of the weight of the domain score 
  • Formalizes Through-Year Assessments to begin in 2027-28
  • Allows schools to order paper tests for up to 1% of student enrollment 
  • Creates grants for the development of local accountability systems 
  • Creates extra- and co-curricular school funding allotment with a weight of 0.003 

Raise Your Hand Texas continues to believe our schools and our students are so much more than ONE TEST on ONE DAY. So this legislative session, let’s reimagine how we capture and assess performance in Texas schools beyond STAAR. 

2. SB 1474 by Sen. Bettencourt Passes Senate with Special Education Voucher Provision

SB 1474, a $1.5 billion bill related to special education funding by Sen. Bettencourt, passed the Senate this week. It includes numerous provisions related to special education funding, including a voucher program for students participating in special education programs or those who are covered by a 504 plan.  

  • Creates an Education Savings Account program for eligible students participating in a public school special education program or covered by a 504 plan to be used for private school tuition or private education vendors
  • Extends SSES grant to eligible students ($1,500) one time prior to sixth grade, and another time after sixth grade
  • Transitions special education funding to an intensity-of-service model
  • Provides a grant program to increase the number of qualified and appropriately credentialed special education staff
  • Requires schools to have annual discussions during board meetings on special education measures developed by TEA
  • Provides reimbursements up to $500 per full and individual SPED initial evaluation
  • Increases the current CCMR outcomes bonus for students receiving special education services from $2,000 to $4,000

Raise Your Hand believes voucher programs only fund a fraction of the actual cost to educate our special education students and will leave families without the federal protections that are required in public schools.

3. Instructional Materials and Curriculum Bill Passes House

The $730 million statewide curriculum and instructional materials bill passed the full House this week. The 55-page bill, HB 1605 by Rep. Buckley, details how parent portals for instructional materials, parent curriculum reviews, and the funding for state-approved instructional material would be implemented.  

  • Parent portal: A school district shall make teaching materials readily available for review by parents both in person and through an instructional materials parent portal 
  • Parent access: Requires parent access to instructional materials beginning 30 days before the school year starts and ending 30 days after the school year ends
  • Parent curriculum review: 50% of parents at a campus can request a curriculum review; schools are not required to conduct a campus review more than once per school year for a specific subject or grade level
  • State funding for state-approved instructional materials: A school district is entitled to an amount of state funding equal to $40 for each student for costs incurred by the district to procure instructional materials
  • Open education resource state funding: A school district is entitled to state funding of no more than $20 per student for the costs associated with printing and shipping open education resource materials

4. Upcoming Legislative Deadlines

With 25 days remaining in the 88th Legislative Session, there are specific deadlines fast approaching, including:     

  • May 8 is the last day to report House Bills from House Committees
  • May 11 is the last day for the House to consider House Bills on second reading
  • May 20 is the last day to report Senate Bills from House Committees
  • May 23 is the last day for the House to consider Senate Bills on the second reading
  • May 27 is the last day to distribute Conference Committee reports to the House
  • May 28 is the last day to adopt Conference Committee reports in the House 
  • May 29 is the last day of the 88th Legislative Session 

5. Upcoming Committee Meetings

The House Public Education Committee is scheduled to meet at 8:00 am on Tuesday, May 9 to hear numerous bills, including SB 9 (teacher workforce) by Sen. Creighton.

Tags: accountability across the lawn Assessment & Accountability ESA voucher vouchers

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