As previously reported on Teach the Vote, members of the ATPE staff and state officers recently met with several members of the Texas congressional delegation in Washington and asked them to support our effort to advocate for an extension of time on the state’s NCLB waiver. A majority of the Texas congressional delegation granted our request to sign a letter of support for giving our state a waiver extension.
Texas has been granted a preliminary waiver of accountability measures in the federal ESEA/NCLB law, which was conditioned on the state’s changing its system for teacher evaluation. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced plans in May for a new system that would be piloted in the 2014-15 school year and implemented statewide in 2015-16 in accordance with expectations of the U.S. Department of Education. ATPE voiced concern that the timeline should be extended so that results of the pilot can be analyzed and adjustments can be made, if necessary, before TEA attempts to roll out new evaluations statewide.
On Wednesday, July 23, TEA announced that Commissioner Michael Williams has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking for a one-year extension of time. Similarly, 22 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas sent a letter at ATPE’s request to Secretary Duncan on July 24, asking for additional time for the implementation of any teacher evaluation changes in Texas and urging him to grant our state an extension of the NCLB waiver. Read the letter here.
ATPE is grateful for the assistance of the 22 congressmen, including House Committee on Education and the Workforce members Kenny Marchant and Rubén Hinojosa, who signed our bipartisan letter of support. We also appreciate the willingness of the commissioner to request an extension of time before proceeding with statewide implementation of a new evaluation system. Finally, we hope that Secretary Duncan will consider our request and enable Texas adequate flexibility to continue working to improve public education without being hamstrung by outdated federal accountability laws.
Related content: Read ATPE’s July 25 press release featuring State President Richard Wiggins, who was among the ATPE delegation that met with congressional leaders in Washington last month.