P-12 Policy Priorities for 87th Texas Legislative Session
Money matters. How much to spend, as well as where and how to invest that funding, significantly impacts the educational experiences, outcomes, and futures of the 5.4 million students served by Texas’ public schools. The Texas Legislature should do everything in its power to maintain the cohesive and strategic investments passed in House Bill 3 and put the increased needs of students first, prioritizing historically underserved students most harmed by the learning disparities exposed by the pandemic.
- Protect all investments made in House Bill 3 (2019)
- Hold districts “harmless” until student counts stabilize by maintaining funding based on pre-pandemic attendance figures and Compensatory Education allocations
- Only after exhausting all revenue options, ensure that any cuts to public education that cannot be avoided are done in a manner that protects districts, schools, and students most in need
Students with the strongest teachers receive what amounts to months’ worth of additional learning each year. Even before the pandemic, students of color and students from low-income backgrounds in Texas were less likely to have access to strong, consistent teaching. And our state’s teacher workforce does not reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of our increasingly diverse student population. To accelerate learning and address growing disparities amid the pandemic, Texas should take bold and creative action to ensure every student has access to strong, diverse teachers now and in the years to come.
- Maintain the Teacher Incentive Allotment and Mentor Program Allotment included in House Bill 3 (2019) and monitor to ensure gaps close in student access to strong, diverse educators and teacher retention
- Establish a tri-agency body to set a clear, numeric and time-bound statewide goal for increasing student access to strong, diverse educators; and then examine, enact, and monitor strategies to meet this goal
- Increase transparency and accountability by collecting and publicly reporting:
- teacher retention rates by race and ethnicity at the state and district level;
- teacher vacancy data at the state and district level;
- preparation programs’ candidate data by race and ethnicity; and
- use of waivers for candidates licensed under COVID-19 flexibilities
- Support programs and practices proven to recruit, prepare, and retain racially and linguistically diverse candidates
In 2019, in response to tragic incidents of school violence, the Texas Legislature took important action to acknowledge the necessity of safe and supportive learning environments. Given the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on students’ health and wellbeing, Texas should remain focused on supporting evidence-based strategies to create safe and supportive school climates and reduce reliance upon exclusionary discipline practices, which disproportionately disrupt the learning of students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students with disabilities.
- Maintain funding of the School Safety Allotment to advance strategies proven to support positive school climate and students’ health and well-being
- Enhance the Safe and Supportive Schools Program by including anti-bias training and monitor implementation by publicly reporting disaggregated school climate survey data
- Develop a statewide definition of chronic absenteeism, ensure public reporting, and allocate resources to support effective early interventions for students
The pandemic has already disrupted students’ academic trajectories and negatively impacted college and career plans, especially those of Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds. This threatens to derail the state’s 60X30TX goals at a time when a postsecondary credential has never been more valuable to employment and opportunity. To get back on track, the state should increase access to and success in rigorous and advanced courses.
- Maintain the College, Career and Military Readiness (CCMR) outcomes bonus and FAFSA/TASFA graduation requirement included in House Bill 3 (2019) and monitor to ensure postsecondary attainment gaps close within and across districts, including access to and successful completion of advanced coursework
- Support improved data capacity and coordination between the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and Texas Workforce Commision to provide timely, actionable, and disaggregated data
- Set goals and create statewide standards for dual credit courses to ensure quality, rigor, and credit transferability
In light of the unprecedented disruptions and worsening disparities caused by the pandemic — especially for students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students with disabilities and English learners — it is more critical than ever for educators, families, advocates, and policymakers to understand the full impact on students and chart a path forward. Summative statewide assessment results, along with other indicators of student experiences this year, should be transparently reported, disaggregated, and used to respond to this crisis equitably by directing resources and capacity to accelerate learning.
- Ensure timely reporting of meaningful statewide summative assessment results alongside other measures of student experience, including connectivity, attendance, engagement, and mode of instruction • Create and adopt a state broadband plan to address the digital divide and ensure every student has year-round access to highspeed internet and a device
- Expand optional Additional Days School Year funding in House Bill 3 (2019) to include students in all grades, no longer limited to those in grades pre-K through 5
- Establish a Texas Tutoring Corps to deliver evidence-based, targeted, and intensive tutoring that will accelerate the learning of students most affected by the pandemic