The Legislative Session began on Tuesday. Legislators and their families flooded the halls alongside lobbyists to kick off 140 days of political tug-of-wars. Rep. Joe Straus of San Antonio was re-elected Speaker of the Texas House. Straus announced testing reform as a top priority.
The House Committee on Public Education released its Interim Report with the following recommendations related to assessment and accountability:
- Repeal the requirement that the end-of-course assessments determine fifteen percent of a student’s course grade.
- Establish clear graduation requirements for students.
- Continue to monitor the impact of STAAR implementation on graduation rates.
- Monitor the implementation of the new state accountability system to prevent an overreliance on standardized testing in evaluating school performance.
Additional recommendations related to charter schools, school discipline, parental and community involvement, and UIL are included in the full report.
The School Land Board voted this week to make available $300 million in General Land Office (GLO) monies for public schools. Last session, the Texas Legislature had proposed — and Texans later passed — a constitutional amendment that would allow the board to move earnings from GLO investments to the Available School Fund.
The transfer was held up, however, after Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said the board wanted to evaluate the best use for those GLO funds. Patterson decided in August not to transfer $300 million proposed by legislators and authorized in a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2011. The lack of action created a $300 million shortfall in the Foundation School Program for the current fiscal year