Across the Lawn – September 15, 2023

September 20, 2023  

Across the Lawn Thumbnail Image

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:

Listen to our latest podcast – ​Rulemaking: How Agencies Change The Rules Of The Game

In our latest installment of Intersect Ed we’re talking about a big change that is now the subject of a major court case involving an increasing number of Texas school districts. These school districts are taking TEA to court over the roll out of new standards that, if implemented, would drop the letter grades of about one in four public school campuses. The roll out of new standards was not directed by the Legislature; it is an agency-level decision. In order to understand how we got to this point, we have to take a trip to the opaque world of agency rulemaking. Listen as our experts make a complex topic digestible and easy to understand.

Five Things to Know:

1. Commissioner Morath Delays A-F School Accountability Ratings

Commissioner Morath has delayed the release of the state’s A-F district and campus school accountability ratings. According to Morath, the Texas Education Agency decided to recalculate the growth component, which sets new goals based on how much Texas students’ performance grew in 2019 and in 2022. “At the end of the day, these are about goals and where we want students to be and how we set reasonable goals,” Morath said. “They need to be rigorous goals, but reasonable.”

In late August, seven school districts filed a lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order and court trial on the new rule changes to the state’s A-F accountability system. The lawsuit argues that applying the new ratings formula to last school year’s data will unfairly make it appear that a school’s student outcomes have worsened when in many cases student outcomes have actually improved.  

Within a series of proposed technical changes in how TEA calculates our state’s public school district and campus A-F ratings, there are several changes that stand out as ways that could lower hundreds of high school campus A-F letter grades this school year.

Under the proposed rules, TEA will increase the scale score for how it calculates college, career and military readiness indicators (CCMR), which make up a significant portion of a high school campus accountability A-F letter grade. It’s important to note that the data used for CCMR scores actually lag by a year, meaning TEA will use data from students that graduated in 2022 to calculate the A-F ratings for 2023. CCMR data include meeting criteria on SAT, ACT, TSIA, AP exams, completing dual credit, associates degrees, OnRamps, IBC, programs of study, industry based-certification, or military readiness.   

The proposed changes in the CCMR scale score can be seen in the resources provided by TEA. In simple terms, TEA is changing its grading. It is moving from a 60 scale score equaling an “A” to 88 scale score equaling an “A.” 

Add these accountability changes to the redesign occurring with the STAAR test last year, and it becomes difficult to deduce the true impact of instruction on student outcomes from our current A-F system. Our students and schools should have at least a year to adapt to these significant proposed changes rather than be penalized for so many moving regulatory pieces.

2. The Charles Butt Foundation Releases New Texas Teacher Poll

The Charles Butt Foundation released its latest poll, The 2023 Teacher Teacher Poll: Listening to the Educator Experience. In the Foundation’s fourth consecutive survey, the findings show  teachers are still struggling with the structural challenges of the profession, but know where the state should target education resources. 

According to surveyed Texas public school teachers, when entering the teaching field more than half planned on being pre-kindergarten through grade 12 (PK-12) teachers for the entirety of their careers. Despite their initial aspirations of remaining in the teaching profession, 75% of teachers reported seriously considering leaving their job in the classroom in the past year (2023), a sharp increase from the 58% reported in pre-pandemic 2020. 

Raise Your Hand Texas believes the Legislature should continue to: 

  • Support teacher retention through increased compensation and benefits packages, adequate administrative support, and sustainable work environments;
  • Invest in teacher recruitment strategies, including scholarships for aspiring teachers; and, 
  • Strengthen teacher development by raising the standards for all education preparation programs and providing meaningful professional development opportunities.

3. Raise Your Hand Opens Trustee Advocates Program Application

Raise Your Hand Texas is now accepting applications for the second cohort of our Trustees Advocates Program (TAP). Under the Trustee Advocates Program, school board members and superintendents learn how to build an advocacy system within their school district that supports local community connectedness and influences state legislative outcomes. All Texas school districts are invited to apply for the competitive Cohort Offer from Friday, August 25, 2023 through October 13, 2023.

Raise Your Hand Texas teaches and coaches trustees and superintendents from Texas school districts in six sessions over 18 months. 

  • Session 1 takes the form of a 3-hour local team of eight training for the entire school board and superintendent that will occur within each individual cohort school district.
  • Sessions 2 to 5 occur in Austin over approximately two days with the superintendent and up to three (3) of the school board members.
  • Session 6 will occur in an online format. 

Texas school districts that want to build a community engagement-based advocacy system and learn how to influence education policy are invited to apply for this cohort offer. All of the work will be issue-based, non-partisan, and in alignment with the Open Meetings Act.

4. House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment Releases Report

A 37-page report from the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment was released in August with dozens of recommendations on three key issues: 

  1. Ensuring all Texas youth enjoy equal educational opportunity and the freedom to obtain a quality education, regardless of circumstance. 
  2. Improving outcomes for Texas public school students and meaningfully supporting educators and educational institutions.
  3. Modernizing assessment and accountability measures for Texas schools educating K-12 students.

Raise Your Hand Texas applauds the House’s desire to meet during the interim to continue the conversation on education policy issues that were not passed during the 88th Regular Session. We believe the Legislature must act on school funding, teacher workforce, special education funding, and assessment and accountability issues in any upcoming special session. Furthermore, these issues are too important to be contingent on the passage of any voucher legislation.

5. Meet Raise Your Hand Texas at Open Congress During The Texas Tribune Festival

If you will be at the free Open Congress event at The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday, September 23, we hope to connect with you!  Before the 9:15 a.m. panel, The War Over School Choice, you are invited to drop by the Raise Your Hand Texas office to pick up breakfast burritos and a button from 8:30 a.m to 9:30 a.m. Following the panel, we invite teachers to a special Meet Up at our office at 10:30 a.m. More information at:

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

related content


subscribe & make
a difference

Subscribe to our e-newsletter for Texas education news, stories, policy insights, and ways to make a difference. We only use this information to send emails relevant to you and will never share this information with third parties.

Address (Required)(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.