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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: June 28, 2024

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 6/28/2024

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

STAAR SCORES: Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath faced a flurry of questions Wednesday, June 26, from the State Board of Education (SBOE) regarding this year's STAAR test scores. Morath summarized that the scores, particularly in elementary math and science, were generally disappointing compared to previous years. ATPE has pointed out that this year’s STAAR scores are based on a new, more difficult test design as well as opaque and constantly shifting scoring metrics.   

Morath also suggested the decrease in test scores could be due to a historic increase in hiring uncertified teachers. It’s worth noting that Houston ISD, under the governance of the commissioner’s appointee following a state takeover, hired 830 uncertified teachers during the last school year. ATPE has long advocated for strengthening the minimum standards for educator preparation and minimizing the use of non-certified educators. 

When asked what specific approaches the agency is taking to improve scores, Morath did not offer any concrete responses.  

ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins has a recap of the SBOE discussion in this blog post

CHARTERS: ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins also wrote about the SBOE’s Wednesday vote to give preliminary approval to three new charter school applicants and veto two others. The charter applicants faced a final SBOE vote this morning, and the board narrowly reversed its preliminary veto against Infinite Minds charter school in Arlington as it formally approved the creation of four new charter school chains. 

SBOE members indicated that the charter school’s leadership pledged to alter some of its programming in response to the board’s questions earlier this week. The motion to veto resulted in an unsuccessful tie after Member Melissa Ortega (D-El Paso), who previously voted against the charter, left the room prior to the final Friday vote. 

The board affirmed its veto of Visionary STEM Academy in Terrell ISD and its vote to award contracts to Pathway Academy in Big Spring, Texas Girls School in Leander, and Unparalleled Preparatory Academy in Manor ISD.  

The decisions made this week will grant initial five-year contracts for state funding to approved charter schools, with potential for further expansion at the commissioner's discretion.

HQIM/edTPA: The SBOE Committee on Instruction heard testimony Thursday about high quality instructional materials (HQIM) up for adoption under the new instructional materials review and adoption (IMRA) process required by last year’s House Bill (HB) 1605. These materials have been scrutinized because of the opaque development process, concerns about TEA’s ability to change the materials without appropriate input, and the addition of Christian parables and religious references. The committee took no action on the proposed materials this week; a vote is expected at the next SBOE meeting in September.  

The Committee on School Initiatives also met Thursday and discussed edTPA, a national teacher performance assessment that the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and TEA staff have sought to replace Texas' pedagogy and professional responsibilities (PPR) certification exam. The Texas Coalition for Educator Preparation (TCEP), of which ATPE is a member, has long opposed the move because of the stress it places on first-year teachers and edTPA’s track record of negatively impacting the teacher pipeline in other states that adopted it as a certification exam. The SBOE, which has veto power over SBEC rules, rejected a prior attempt to implement edTPA in Texas via rulemaking, which sent the certification board back to the drawing board. TEA staff announced Thursday morning to the committee that SBEC has directed the agency to move forward with a plan to develop a Texas-based alternative to edTPA (TxTPA). Read more about these developments in this blog post

TRS: Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed John R. Rutherford to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas Board of Trustees for a term set to expire on August 31, 2029. Additionally, the Governor has named Robert H. “Rob” Walls, Jr. as chair of the Board. The TRS Board of Trustees manages retirement and other benefits for teachers and employees of the state’s public schools and institutions of higher education.

UVALDE: Former Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo and officer Adrian Gonzales have been indicted on felony charges of child endangerment following a delayed response to the May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary. The indictment marks the first criminal charges against law enforcement officers involved in the response to the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. Read more on The Texas Tribune

ATPE SUMMIT: If you haven't made plans to attend the ATPE Summit July 8–10 in Dallas, the registration deadline is today, June 28. Visit atpesummit.org to learn more about the event and register. The ATPE Lobby Team, including our federal contract lobbyists, will share the latest on how public educators can advocate for their students and their profession.  

Our keynote speakers are leadership expert Alyson Van Hooser and Ron Clark Academy co-founder Kim Bearden, and we’re offering your choice of more than 20 professional learning breakouts. The member registration fee is $235, and nonmembers may attend for $285. (Artists' appearances arranged through Gotham Artists.) 



Deann Lee

Never a dull moment. Thanks to all of you for keeping us informed.

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