Requirements for lesson plans vary widely by district. While you may have some or even considerable control over your campus’ lesson plan requirements, here’s what’s required by the state.
What can you be required to do?
Lesson plan requirements vary at the local level, but the scope of what classroom teachers can be required to include under the Texas Education Code is limited to:
- Unit or weekly lesson plans that outline “in a brief or general manner” information to be presented during each period (secondary) or each subject (elementary)
- Reports of students’ grades on assignments or exams, as well as students’ academic progress
- Student attendance reports
- Any report concerning the health, safety, or welfare of a student
- Any information required by a school district relating to a complaint, grievance, or pending or potential litigation
Your school district cannot require information in a lesson plan “that is neither taught to students nor describes the activities that will be used to teach the subject matter.”
Backed up by a state appeals court decision, the Texas Education Code’s reference to “information to be presented” regarding unit and weekly lesson plans prohibits school districts from requiring lesson plans that contain anything more than an outline of the information that you plan to teach during a particular class period, along with student learning activities.
What can be required in your lesson plan
- Lesson plan template
- TEKS objective
- Resources students will use
What can’t be required in your lesson plan
Although Ch. 11 of the Texas Education Code contains a “Paperwork Reduction Act,” the statutory language leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The commissioner of education has been reluctant to overrule a school district’s judgment in this area.
The education code says educators can be required to provide “a unit or weekly lesson plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented during each period at the secondary level or in each subject or topic at the elementary level.”
But in a 2019 ruling by the commissioner, the commissioner held that teachers could be required to include assessments and differentiated activities and modifications in a lesson plan — a significant departure from a “brief and general” description of the lesson plan.
The statute should more clearly reflect language from a 2015 Court of Appeals ruling (Ysleta ISD and Commissioner of Education v. Porter, No. 13-13-00409-CV). In that case, the court restricted what type of information that teachers could be required to provide. More specifically, the court stated that teachers are not required to list:
- cognitive levels
- differentiated activities/modifications
The court held that the test for determining if a lesson plan requirement is legitimate is whether it reflects either the information taught to the student or describes the activities that will be used to teach the subject matter.
- Texas Education Code Section 11.164 Paperwork Reduction Act
- Ysleta Independent School District and Commissioner of Education v. Edith Porter, Jennifer Adams, and Rita Vasquez (2015)
- Linda Soto, et al, v. Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District (2019)