Tag Archives: Commissioner Raymond Paredes

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Sept. 13, 2019

Here’s this week’s education news wrap-up, courtesy of the ATPE Governmental Relations team:


SBOE Committee on School Initiatives meeting, Sept. 12, 2019

This week, members of the State Board of Education (SBOE) gathered in Austin to hold a series of meetings over Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, which ATPE’s lobbyists have been attending. View the full SBOE agenda and additional information about this week’s meetings here.

To kick things off, the board on Wednesday discussed the Texas Resource Review (TRR) process, formerly known as the Instructional Materials Quality Evaluation (IMQE). Acting as a rubric for instructional materials for English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) in grades 3-8, the TRR will serve as a type of “consumer reports”  resources for school districts and educators looking for quality instructional materials. Read a full recap of Wednesday’s board meeting in this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

Other topics of discussion during this week’s meetings of the board and its committees include a new procedure for nominating members to the School Land Board (SLB), the ed prep assessment pilot known as “EdTPA,” and the Generation 25 charter application that would establish charters with new operators as opposed to letting existing charter holders expand their operations. ATPE’s Wiggins has more on the discussion of these items in this blog post from Thursday.

The board will wrap up its September meetings today. The full board’s agenda for today includes hearing from Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. Read more about his remarks at today’s SBOE meeting, which covered accountability and new reading academy requirements, in this Teach the Vote blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier.

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath speaking to the ATPE Board of Directors, Sept. 7, 2019

The board also took time today to recognize outgoing chair Donna Bahorich for her leadership with an honorary resolution. This will be the last meeting over which Bahorich will preside, pending the governor’s naming of a new chair for the SBOE.

Related: Commissioner Mike Morath also visited the ATPE Board of Directors meeting in Pflugerville on Sept. 7, 2019. The commissioner updated the board on accountability ratings, discussed the issue of merit pay, and more.


This year’s legislative session saw a slew of bills relating to assessments, from their administration and content to their duration and much more. For an in-depth look at which laws from the 86th session will affect things like end-of-course exams, individual graduation committees (IGCs), and the length of standardized state assessments, check out this week’s blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier. On Monday, we’ll have a another new post for our ongoing “New School Year, New Laws” weekly series here on Teach the Vote. You can also learn more about many new laws affecting educators in this comprehensive digital guide compiled by ATPE’s legal staff.


The latest iteration of “HB 3 in 30,” the Texas Education Agency’s weekly video series that breaks down the signature education bill of the 86th session, focuses on reading practices. Click here to watch the most recent video and access all the prior videos in the HB 3 in 30 series.


It was announced this week that Harrison Keller will become the new Commissioner of Higher Education, following the recent retirement of Commissioner Raymund Peredes. The announcement came Wednesday after a unanimous vote by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Keller, who assumes the post on Oct. 1, has worked for the University of Texas and was a longtime education policy adviser to a former Texas Speaker of the House, Rep. Tom Craddick (R-Midland).


ELECTION UPDATE: Yet another big retirement announcement came today with Sen. José Rodriguez (D-El Paso) announcing that he will not seek re-election. An attorney, Sen. Rodriguez has described himself as the first member of his family to attend college. He was first elected to the Senate District 29 seat in 2010 and has also chaired the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Early voting for the upcoming November election begins on Oct. 21, just five weeks from now. For more information about what’s going to be on the ballot, check out our previous Teach the Vote blog posts on proposed constitutional amendments and some special elections that will be taking place on the same day. You can also use the resources provided by the Texas Educators Vote coalition to help ensure you are ready to vote. The deadline to register to vote for the November 5 election is Oct. 7, 2019.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: April 1, 2016

Today is April 1, but we’re not fooling when we tell you it was a busy week at the Texas State Capitol. ATPE’s lobby team has the latest news affecting public education:


 

Josh Sanderson

Josh Sanderson

ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson attended several hearings on Wednesday where the topics of discussion included the state’s budget and the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). Of particular interest was how to fund TRS-Care, which is facing a considerable shortfall heading into the next legislative session. ATPE was among several education groups to testify about the healthcare funding needs of our state’s active and retired educators. Read Josh’s blog post from yesterday to learn more.

 


Kate Kuhlmann

Kate Kuhlmann

The Senate Education and Higher Education Committees held a joint interim hearing this week on teacher pipeline issues and the ongoing implementation of 2013’s House Bill 5, which overhauled the state’s graduation requirements and accountability system. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann provided testimony to the committee. Read her blog post this week to learn more about the hearing on Tuesday.

 


Monty Exter

Monty Exter

Earlier this week, some students experienced significant issues while taking the online version of the STAAR test. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter reports that upon returning to the system after having left it for a variety of reasons, students found that the work they had already completed on the test was gone. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) quickly released a public statement from Commissioner Mike Morath on Tuesday acknowledging the problem and the fact that it was unacceptable of both the agency and ETS, the state testing vendor, to allow such an issue to have occurred.

On Wednesday, TEA released another statement providing some technical instructions from ETS. Of particular note, the agency also stated in bold typeface, “For students who were not able to complete an online test because of the technology issues related to the STAAR online testing platform, districts are not required to have the students complete the test(s) and should feel under no obligation to do so.” The technical difficulties with the online STAAR testing come on the heels of existing criticism over test administrators’ being require to clock students’ break times during the test and growing concerns about the STAAR tests being unfair to students in special education programs.

 



If you’re planning to submit public comments on the Commissioner of Education’s proposed rules for the state’s new recommended appraisal system for principals, your deadline is Monday, April 4. Click here to view the proposed rules for T-PESS, which would take effect during the 2016-17 school year.

The commissioner has also proposed brand new rules for “Innovation Districts” authorized under last session’s House Bill 1842. The new law allows certain acceptably performing school districts to propose local innovation plans and receive exemptions from various state regulations. Public comments on those rules will be accepted through May 2. Click here to learn more.

Rules implementing a new pre-Kindergarten grant program have now been finalized. Click here to view the commissioner’s adopted rules, including responses to comments submitted by ATPE and other stakeholders after the rules were proposed.

ThinkstockPhotos-126983249_surveillanceNext week we expect to see the official filing of a new rule proposal from the commissioner to guide the implementation of last year’s Senate Bill 507 requiring video surveillance cameras in certain special education settings. Commissioner Morath has already asked the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to provide an opinion on some questions that are considered open to differing interpretations based on the language of the bill. These include clarifying the specific settings in which the video surveillance is required and who may obtain access to the video footage. That request for an OAG opinion remains pending.

ATPE also expects to share an announcement soon about the release of adopted commissioner’s rules implementing the new T-TESS recommended appraisal system for teachers. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates.


On the agenda for next week, the State Board of Education will be meeting in Austin starting Tuesday, April 5. View its agenda and find links for watching live streams of the hearing on the TEA website here. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter will be in attendance and will provide updates for Teach the Vote. Also next week, the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) holds its meetings Thurday and Friday, April 7-8. View the TRS agenda and other materials here, and watch for updates from ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson. Negotiated rulemaking on the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) also continues next week in Washington, D.C.


Finally, join us in celebrating ATPE’s 36th birthday today!

HBD ATPE

Senate Committee on Higher Education discusses teacher preparation and certification

The Senate Committee on Higher Education met Tuesday, July 22, to discuss two interim committee charges. ATPE submitted written testimony regarding the following charge:

Examine and make recommendations regarding improvements in teacher preparation and certification programs to address any misalignment with school district shortages and problems with retaining new teachers.  

The committee invited two panels of participants to testify on the above charge. The first panel consisted of Commissioner of Education Michael Williams and Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes. Both provided the committee with a status report of educator preparation and certification in Texas.

Parades pointed to research that highlighted international comparisons and successes among countries’ educator preparation and certification programs. Based on that data, he highlighted common themes among countries with the highest performing students. Those themes included:

  • High and consistent standards for educator preparation programs.
  • A focus on attracting the highest achieving candidates to enter the field.
  • Strong teacher support.
  • Meaningful clinical training.
  • Adequate compensation.
  • And robust professional development.

He said the U.S. and Texas can do better in all areas.

Williams gave the committee state-based statistics on educator preparation and certification. He echoed some of his colleague’s comments and added his belief that the state should better align our educator preparation programs with state standards such as the TEKS. He also acknowledged the existing struggle between getting teachers in the classroom immediately because they are needed—citing a 2012-13 statistic that showed 35,800 teachers left the field while only 24,000 were new hires—versus ensuring teachers receive the standard of preparation needed to be ready for the classroom.

Williams also reported that the breakdown of students receiving educator certification in Texas during the 2012-13 year was as follows:

  • 44 percent were certified through a traditional program, and this route resulted in the highest five-year retention rate of 77 percent.
  • Those certified through alternative certification routes were 41 percent of the pool (retention rate not provided).
  • University post-baccalaureate programs accounted for about 4 percent of certifications (retention rate not provided).
  • 11 percent of new teachers came from out of state, and this route has a five-year retention rate of 61 percent.

The second panel consisted of stakeholders. Again, many of their recommendations reflected the comments made initially by Parades. All of the panelists stressed the importance of adequate clinical training prior to certification. One panelist, Superintendent of Pflugerville ISD Alex Torrez, said that the biggest challenge for struggling new teachers is the ability to manage the classroom. He added that candidates need more support after they reach the classroom, which he said should be a shared responsibility of the district and preparation programs. President of iTeach, a for-profit alternative certification program, Diann Huber, focused much of her testimony on the role and importance of field supervisors in the educator certification process.

The panelists also agreed that all programs should be held to high standards. Executive Director of Educate Texas John Fitzpatrick noted that although we have great access to educator preparation programs in Texas, we need to ensure we are not sacrificing quality. Several of the panelists suggested mandatory accreditation requirements for all programs. Fitzpatrick also commended the move by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to raise the minimum grade point average (GPA) for entrance into an educator preparation program—a move ATPE has requested and actively supported. The board will vote on final approval of that rule change next week.

Dean of the College of Education at the University of Houston Robert H. McPherson said that the biggest challenges he finds with attracting students to enter the teaching field are the perceived lack of prestige of the profession and the fact that other fields offer much higher salaries after graduation. The need to change the way education and educators are perceived was another thoroughly discussed topic.

ATPE advocates for high standards for educator preparation and certification programs in Texas and believes that raising the standards across-the-board for teacher preparation will have a positive ripple effect on the profession, leading to many of the desired outcomes expressed above, such as more prestige for the profession, better support for new teachers and adequate compensation. ATPE’s submitted testimony can be viewed here.