Across the Lawn

April 22, 2022 |

Raise Your Hand Texas Monthly Update | Friday, April 22, 2022

The FOUR Things to Know and ONE Thing to Do

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.

The One Thing to Do:

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Across the Lawn is Going Live

On April 28 at 9 a.m. we will host our first Across the Lawn event in the Raise Your Hand Texas office, just ‘across the lawn’ from the Texas Capitol. This new conversation series will feature experts on a range of education topics and will strive to help policymakers and advocates deepen their understanding of the most important education challenges our state faces.

Two or three events will take place on the last Thursday of each month in the spring, before taking a break this summer. We will resume the series from September to November. All learning events will be held in person and some will be live-streamed. All event recordings will be available on-demand after each learning event.

Join us for our first conversation at 9:00 on April 28, where we’ll learn more about the possibilities of locally-based accountability systems from districts currently pursuing that work.

Four Things to Know:

1. TEA Posts Local Policy Guidance Regarding Library Content

On November 10, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Education Agency to address statewide standards to prevent the presence of obscene content in Texas public school libraries. TEA responded on April 11, 2022, with guidance regarding local school board policies on library content. The model local policy is available here: Recommended Policies.

TEA recommends that boards of trustees of independent school districts and governing boards of charter schools review and consider whether an adjustment to current policy is necessary. School districts and charter schools have a local process in place for reviewing books that parents believe should be removed from school libraries.

2. Texas AFT and Every Texan Release New Teacher Workforce Report: The Lost Decade: Texas Schools are Underfunded and Facing Devastating Staffing Shortages

Texas AFT and Every Texan released a report last week entitled  “The Lost Decade.” The report focuses on the underfunding of schools, which contributed to educators’ salaries actually declining over time when adjusted for inflation. The report also states salaries for Texas teachers lag their peers nationwide and salaries for school support staff in Texas have only seen modest gains.

Texas’ teacher workforce, with over 368,000 teachers, plays one of the most important roles in our public education system. Effective teachers are central to student learning, emotional and physical well-being, and social development. This will be one of the most important legislative issues this interim and next legislative session. Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to advocate for and support state policies that attract, train, and retain effective teachers in our school workforce. For even more insight into Texas teacher workforce issues, visit Texas Teacher Workforce Report (2021).

3. Raise Your Hand Texas’ Measure What Matters Council Continues to Hear from Community Voices

Since October 2021, the Raise Your Hand Texas advocacy team has met with more than 10,000 Texans in small and large group settings across the state, gathering valuable stakeholder feedback about how our communities perceive our state’s STAAR assessment and A-F school district and campus rating systems.

The message from teachers, parents, students, and community members is clear. Our schools do much more than just give a standardized test and we should create a system that measures and helps students grow in as many ways as possible so that they are ready for life beyond high school.

In the coming months, our Measure What Matters Council will continue to develop our legislative position statements and potential policy frameworks for our state’s assessment and accountability systems.

4. STAAR Will Be Online and Bring New Types of Questions Next Year

STAAR and End-of-Course assessments will be administered online by the 2022–2023 school year. Under the new testing redesign, no more than 75 percent of points on a STAAR test can be based on multiple-choice questions. This means new question types are being developed and our students and parents will have to understand the implications of the new redesign.

Please take a moment to understand what this new approach will look like for your student. The Texas Education Agency has posted an Online Sampler of New Questions so teachers, parents, and students can begin to understand the testing platform and new question types. (Hit the green button at the bottom of the page on the link above to begin your sample test.)

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