June 17, 2022: Victory over charter expansion with rejections by SBOE; High school STAAR results released

State Board of Education votes down four charter applications—a huge victory over harmful charter expansion

Ruled paper with blue text:

SBOE also nixes new teacher certification process

On Friday, the State Board of Education rejected four of five applications for new charter schools recommended for approval by the Texas Education Agency.  The SBOE started hearing testimony for and against the new charter applications on Wednesday and continued the hearing late into the evening.

The applications considered and districts that would be significantly impacted were: the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (Fort Worth ISD), Heritage Classical Academy (Houston and Aldine ISDs), ONE Collegiate Academy (Houston and Aldine ISDs), Patterns Technical (Austin and Del Valle ISDs), and Spelligent San Antonio (Northside, North East, and Edgewood ISDs). Texas AFT presented information regarding the negative impacts to both enrollment and funding and worked to bring in testifiers from these communities to speak against these applications. Ultimately, the Friday vote allowed only one application, the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, to proceed. This was a big win for the fight against harmful charter expansion!

The proposed new licensure exam for teacher certification—edTPA, which would replace the TExES PPRwas opposed by Texas AFT and every other major educator organization in Texas. The SBOE public hearing clearly went against the commissioner of education’s desire for this rule adoption. SBOE members unanimously voted down the new rule. It will now go back to the State Board for Educator Certification, which hopefully will do better by the teacher candidates of Texas and the teacher pipeline. We support rigorous preparation to become a classroom teacher, and we will continue to monitor these activities on behalf of our membership.  

Also this week at the SBOE, McAllen AFT member Jennifer Han, the Texas Association of School Administrators Elementary Teacher of the Year, shared powerful words about the unrealistic expectations placed on teachers (especially since COVID) without effective supports and respectful compensation. Han paid a beautiful tribute to her fallen colleagues in Uvalde and called for additional funding and investment in student mental health.

Secondary Teacher of the Year, Ramon Benevides, shared how much he had learned about his students during the pandemic and how it changed his teaching to focus as much on their emotional and life skills as he does on content. His challenge to the room was trying to raise educator compensation so that great teachers like him can stay in the classroom without having to run side jobs. He also called for more attention to be paid to the diverse cultural landscape of our students’ lived experiences.

Cover of a STAAR booklet with STAAR Logo (STAAR in the white of a Texas flag)

TEA releases 2022 end-of-course STAAR results

On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency released end-of-course STAAR results for assessments in Algebra I, English I, English II, Biology, and U.S History​​.

Texas high school students are demonstrating improvement in three areas: Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History—with scores rising but still below pre-pandemic levels. English I and English II results stayed generally consistent from last school year and showed no negative impact due to the pandemic. TEA encourages parents to log in and learn more about their child’s results by going to TexasAssessment.gov.

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Source: TEA graph

TEA argues that recent laws passed by the Legislature are positive tools that support the positive gains from Texas students. Notably, the TEA credits HB 4545, which entitles students either to receive thirty hours of targeted tutoring before, during, or after school for each subject in which they did not pass the corresponding STAAR assessment, or to be assigned to a classroom overseen by a certified master, exemplary, or recognized teacher. Texas AFT continues to have concerns about HB 4545’s provisions, which have burdened districts trying to meet the requirements while also requiring otherwise good students into disruptive accelerated learning because they have lackluster standardized test scores. With recent legislative hearings on HB 4545, it’s clear that the law will be up for closer examination and possible tweaks in the next legislative session.

Texas AFT, which called for cancellation of the STAAR test for the past two years, maintains that the STAAR test is ineffective at measuring student growth and assisting educators even in times without pandemic disruptions. STAAR forms the foundation of a test-and-punish accountability system that pushes districts to privatize schools by forcing them to turn campuses over to charter chains. TEA also re-launched its flawed A-F rating system this year.

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