Pending Legislation

Below is a list of pending education legislation in the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature that Rockwall ISD believes may be of interest to our community. Please note that the detailed descriptions are provided by the Texas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations Office.

Senate Bill 4

Summary
Allows a company to receive a state-subsidized tax credit on its business taxes in exchange for a donation to an educational assistance organization. A student may then apply for a scholarship for a voucher worth 75% of the statewide average per pupil expenditure.

Detailed Description
As passed by the Senate, SB 4 would implement a tax credit against franchise tax liability and state premium tax liability for contributions to certain educational assistance organizations, as defined in the bill. An organization would be required to apply to the comptroller for certification as a certified educational assistance organization. The bill would specify eligibility requirements. The comptroller could certify no more than 25 certified educational assistance organizations. The bill would prescribe the procedure for denial and reconsideration of an application. One of the eligibility requirements for an organization would be to allocate at least 90% of its annual revenue from contributions designated for scholarships or educational expense assistance for those purposes, including tuition, transportation, textbooks, and other supplies, and for other related educational expense assistance. Of this required allocation, the organization would use at least 80% for scholarships and no more than 20% for educational expense assistance. The bill would address requirements for a nonpublic school to qualify for scholarships and educational expense assistance for eligible students. The bill would also prescribe eligibility requirements for students to apply for assistance from an organization. School districts in certain counties could vote at a general election to allow students to participate in this tax credit scholarship program. A school district would be required to provide written notice of the availability of assistance to the parent of an eligible student; the notice would contain specific information regarding laws applicable to a qualifying school and the rights of students with disabilities. A student who receives a scholarship would be included in the weighted average daily attendance of the district the student would otherwise attend for purposes of determining the district’s equalized wealth level. An entity would apply for a credit for money contributed to a certified educational assistance organization and designated for scholarships or educational expense assistance for eligible students. The entity would notify the organization when the entity makes a contribution if the entity may apply for a credit against franchise tax or state premium tax liability for the contribution. The bill would establish a maximum amount an organization could award to a student using money contributed by an entity that gives notice of its intent to apply for a credit. The bill would also limit the amount of credit an entity could claim and the total amount of credits that could be claimed by all entities. The bill would address various issues related to the application for credit: preliminary approval for a credit before making a contribution; the application for credit on a form adopted by the comptroller on or with the entity’s tax report for the period; the comptroller’s procedure for awarding a credit and notifying an entity of the decision to grant or deny an application for a credit; and reconsideration of a denial. The bill would require the comptroller to adopt rules and procedures to implement, administer, and enforce these provisions; these rules and procedures would be binding on organizations applying for certification, entities applying for credit, and a state or local governmental entity, including a political subdivision, as necessary to implement, administer, and enforce the provisions. The bill would address assignment or transfer of the credit and revocation of an organization’s certification. By December 31 of each even-numbered year, the comptroller would determine the amount of net savings, as defined in the bill, for the previous state fiscal biennium and make a report of that amount available to the public. The comptroller would also include notice of the availability of the credit on the comptroller’s website, tax form instructions, and in other notices to affected entities. The bill concludes by outlining the procedure for challenging the constitutionality of the bill’s provisions. Effective date: January 1, 2016

Status: Passed Senate, In House

Full text and additional information

Senate Bill 149

Summary
Students who fail one or two EOC exams but meet all other graduation requirements will be referred to a local graduation committee who may allow them to graduate

Detailed Description
As amended by House Committee Substitute, SB 149 would add Education Code §28.0258 that would apply to an 11th or 12th grade student who has failed to comply with the end-of-course assessment instrument performance requirements for not more than one course. For each such student, a school district would be required to establish an individual graduation committee at the end of or after the student’s 11th grade year to determine whether the student may qualify to graduate. The committee would be composed of several specified parties: the principal or designee; the teacher of the course for which the student failed to perform satisfactorily on the end-of-course assessment; the school counselor; and as applicable, the student’s parent or person standing in parental relation, or a designated advocate if the parent or person standing in parental relation is unable to serve, or the student if the student is at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor. The district would provide an appropriate translator for a person who is unable to speak English. The commissioner would establish procedures for appointing an alternative member, if necessary, except that the district would establish such procedures for the 2014-2015 school year. The superintendent would establish procedures for convening an individual graduation committee. The district would ensure a good faith effort to timely notify the parent or other appropriate person of the time, place, and purpose of the committee meeting. The notice would be clear and easy to understand, given in person or by mail or email, and in English, Spanish, or, to the extent practicable, the native language of the recipient. To be eligible to graduate, a student would have to successfully complete the curriculum requirements identified by the State Board of Education under Education Code §28.025(a). A student’s committee would recommend additional requirements by which the student could qualify to graduate, including additional remediation, and for the end-of course assessment instrument on which the student failed to perform satisfactorily, completion of a project or preparation of a portfolio of work samples that demonstrate proficiency in the subject area. A student could submit coursework previously completed to satisfy a recommended additional requirement. In determining whether a student is qualified to graduate, the committee would consider 15 specific items or categories of information about the student. After considering these criteria, the committee could determine that the student is qualified to graduate. A student could graduate and receive a high school diploma if the student successfully completes all additional requirements recommended by the committee, the student meets the curriculum requirements, and the committee’s vote is unanimous. The commissioner would establish a timeline for making a determination except that the district would establish the timeline for the 2014-2015 school year. The bill would not create a property interest in graduation, and the committee’s decision would be final and could not be appealed. Notwithstanding any action taken by an individual graduation committee, a district would be required to administer an end-of-course assessment instrument to any student who fails to perform satisfactorily on an end-of-course assessment instrument as provided by §39.025(b). For purposes of §39.053(c)(1), this would be considered an assessment instrument required for graduation retaken by a student. The bill would add §28.0259 to require each district to report through PEIMS the number of students each school year who are awarded a diploma based on the decision of an individual graduation committee. A district would report the information by December 1 of the school year following the year the student is awarded a diploma. TEA would make this information available on its website. Finally, the bill would amend §39.025 to provide that a student who, after retaking an end-of-course assessment instrument for Algebra I or English II, has failed to perform satisfactorily, but who receives a score of proficient on the Texas Success Initiative diagnostic assessment for that subject, would satisfy the requirement concerning the end-of-course assessment. An open-enrollment charter school would be subject to the requirements regarding an individual graduation committee. The commissioner would adopt rules necessary to implement these provisions by the 2015-2016 school year. These provisions would expire September 1, 2017, except that the reporting requirement would expire September 1, 2018. Effective date: Immediately upon a 2/3 vote of the members of each house; otherwise, September 1, 2015.

Status: Passed Senate, Passed house, Waiting on Governor signature

Full text and additional information

Senate Bill 313

Summary
Requires the State Board of Education to review the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and modify them to narrow the number and scope of standards and skills for each subject and grade level.

Detailed Description
As filed, SB 313 would require the State Board of Education to review the essential knowledge and skills and modify them to narrow the number and scope of standards and skills for each subject and grade level. The SBOE would consider: the time required for a teacher to provide comprehensive instruction on a standard or skill and for a typical student to master that standard or skill; whether, given the time required, each essential knowledge and skill can be comprehensively taught within a school year; whether part of the college and career readiness standards can be included in the essential knowledge and skills of a subject; and whether an assessment instrument adequately assesses a particular standard or skill. The SBOE would be required to identify process skills for each subject to guide the modification process so that the essential knowledge and skills are based on process skills that enable students to engage with the content and attain a greater depth of understanding. The bill specifies how the SBOE would prioritize its review and modification of the essential knowledge and skills so that it is completed by September 1, 2018. Effective date: Immediately upon a 2/3 vote of the members of each house; otherwise, September 1, 2015

Status: In Committee

Full text and additional information

Senate Bill 893

Summary
Require teachers to be evaluated each year and change the evaluation and compensation structure to include objective performance measures such as standardized testing.

Detailed Description
As passed by the Senate, SB 893 would address numerous issues related to teacher appraisals, professional development, and compensation. First, the bill would require the commissioner to adopt a teacher development framework that school districts could use in making decisions related to teachers, including performance appraisals, professional development, career advancement, and compensation decisions. The framework would require that decisions regarding professional development, career advancement, and compensation include the teacher’s appraisal as a substantial factor. Decisions regarding career advancement would be based on consecutive appraisals from at least two years, if available. The commissioner would appoint a committee of educators and stakeholders to assist in reviewing and revising the framework at least once every 5 year. The bill would require the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to propose rules establishing processes for an educator to provide feedback to SBEC regarding a continuing education course or program completed by the educator. This feedback would be accessible to the public. Continuing education requirements for a classroom teacher would provide that a significant percentage of the training required every 5 years includes instruction designed to advance any knowledge and skill identified in the teacher’s appraisal as needing improvement. The bill would allow the employment policies adopted by a school board to include peer-to-peer review and other measures involving teachers in the evaluation process. The commissioner would adopt an appraisal process and criteria based on measures of a teacher’s performance, including the following: the teacher’s implementation of discipline management procedures; the academic performance of the teacher’s students, including measures of student educational growth based on academics, but not limited to performance on assessment instruments; teaching standards that articulate expected teacher knowledge, understanding, skill, and practice to ensure student educational growth in academics; classroom observations; and data related to the teacher’s efforts to improve the teacher’s professional performance. The conference between the teacher and appraiser would be diagnostic and prescriptive with regard to improvement and professional development needed overall and by category. In appraising teachers, each district would use either the appraisal process and performance criteria developed by the commissioner in conformity with the teacher development framework and measures of teacher performance, or an appraisal process and performance criteria developed by the district- and campus-level committees containing the measures of teacher performance and adopted by the school board. Appraisals would be required at least once during each school year. A t eacher would be entitled to a written or electronic copy of the evaluation. The commissioner would develop a training course to assist and support school administrators in implementing teacher appraisal processes. The bill would delete classroom teachers from the current minimum salary schedule and would instead impose a requirement that each district pay a minimum monthly salary to each classroom teacher of $2,754. A district could pay higher after considering criteria in the teacher development framework or in a locally developed framework. Classroom teachers would also be deleted from current law pertaining to service records. The bill would rename Education Code Chapter 21, Subchapter J, “Educator Professional Development and Training.” The professional development opportunities, excluding the training developed through the district-level decision process, provided by a district to an educator other than a principal would be required to satisfy six specific criteria. The professional development would also include opportunities that address campus-based performance objectives and performance objectives of individual educators established as part of educator appraisals. For the required professional development, a district could use district-wide training developed and approved through the district-level decision process as long as the training does not represent the majority of the district’s professional development opportunities. References to staff development would be changed to professional development throughout several statutes. The bill would amend the Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program. The bill would delete the school award of $100 per student who achieves a certain score. The bill would delete the teacher awards of $250 for teaching a certain course for the first time and a share of the teacher bonus pool. Instead, the bill would award a teacher $50 for each student enrolled in the teacher’s course who achieves a certain score, not to exceed $2,000 per year. To be eligible for this award, a teacher would be required to teach at a school in which at least 50% of the students are educationally disadvantaged. The bill would amend Government Code §823.404(a) to allow an eligible member of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) to establish one year of equivalent service credit for each year of work experience that was required for certification under Education Code Chapter 21 in a career and technology field for a maximum of two years. Effective September 1, 2016, the bill would repeal Education Code §21.403(b), which allows a certified career or technology education teacher to salary step credit for work experience. The bill would add Government Code §825.4051 to require the TRS board to adopt and maintain a schedule based on the minimum salary schedule for certain professional staff under Education Code §21.402(c-1), as it existed on January 1, 2015, for purposes of calculating the required state contribution for retirement benefits for classroom teachers. The bill would repeal current law regarding a board’s ability to reject, but not modify, the appraisal process and criteria developed by the district- and campus-level committees. The bill would also repeal provisions related to awards under the Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program. This would apply beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, except that the amendments to the Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program would apply beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. The provisions related to compensation and TRS would take effect September 1, 2016. Effective date: Except as provided in the bill, immediately upon a 2/3 vote of the members of each house; otherwise, September 1, 2015.

Status: Passed Senate, In House

Full text and additional information

House Bill 925

Summary
School boards must adopt a policy to maintain a minimum balance in their general fund.

Detailed Description
As filed, HB 925 would require the commissioner by rule to require a school district to maintain a minimum balance in its general fund and to annually publicly report the district’s intended use of any balance that exceeds a specified percentage of the district’s annual operating expenditures. Each district’s board would be required to adopt a policy regarding the operation of the general fund and the minimum balance to be maintained. Effective date: Immediately upon a 2/3 vote of the members of each house; otherwise, September 1, 2015.

Status: In Committee

Full text and additional information