We have been getting a lot of questions about the recently passed education bill – SB 893. Below are questions and answers to help clarify what the bill is setting out to do:
1. Did SB 893 reduce the pay for every teacher down to $27,000 per year?
No, this is far from the truth. SB 893 removes the minimum teacher salary schedule from statute but maintains the previous floor of $2,754 per month. This is not what teachers will be paid per month, but more so a protection to ensure that no teachers can receive less than that.
2. Why did the legislature eliminate the minimum salary schedule?
Currently, less than a dozen school districts utilize the teacher salary schedule, the rest create their own salary framework and pay significantly more. The average starting salary for a teacher in Texas is $36,352, which is 33% higher than the statutory minimum currently and under this bill. This legislation gives local control to school districts to design and administer their own compensation and teacher development plans.
3. By eliminating the salary scale will the state only be contributing $27,000 towards teacher salaries and require the districts to make up the difference or make cuts?
Absolutely not. Even with the salary schedule in place, none of the dollars the state gives districts are earmarked specifically for teacher pay. There have been teacher salary increases built into state funding in the past, but these have all been rolled into the basic allotment so there is no specific teacher salary allocation. Districts are required to pay at least the minimum salary schedule, but there is not a specific earmarked source of revenue, state or local, from which that funding must come from.
4. Does the state currently provide funding for school districts based on the number of salary scale steps the teachers in the district have reached?
No – state funding is largely student and property value driven. Currently, the minimum salary schedule is increased as the student-based funding formulas increase, but the salary schedule does not drive the funding formulas.
5. Without a minimum teacher salary schedule in place, will state funding to each district be reduced down to $27,000 per teacher?
State funding allocated to districts is not based on the number of teachers or the years on the salary schedule. The amount of funding provided to each school for teacher salaries is not impacted by the passage of SB 893. FUNDING: The current state budget I supported on the Senate Floor appropriates $55 billion to public education for the 2016-17 biennium; This is an increase of 6.6% or $3.4 billion from last session. State funding for education is increased by $1.5 billion over what is needed to fully fund current law. This includes $1.2 billion related to an increase in the Basic Allotment with an additional $100 per child. These numbers will likely continue to evolve as the bill moves through the legislative process, but it is a good starting point to ensure that education is given the funding it needs to educate our state’s children and support our teachers.
6. Does this bill tie teacher salary directly to student performance on standardized tests?
The initial bill was poorly written and would have tied teacher salaries directly to student performance on standardized tests. Amendments did away with this and placed control of evaluations in the hands of local school districts. There is explicit language in the bill to limit the use of student scores on a standardized test to measure a teacher’s performance.
7. Why should the state mandate how teachers will be evaluated?
The initial version of the bill mandated how teachers would be evaluated, but that was changed in committee and on the floor with educator input. The final version of SB 893 places control of evaluations in the hands of local school districts with the state providing a basic framework for districts to build their assessments. Currently, teachers are only required to be evaluated once every five years and post-evaluation, and they are provided with very little constructive feedback after the evaluation. This bill will put in place annual evaluations and ensure that teachers receive feedback that will help them continue to grow.
8. Are teachers going to be evaluated primarily on student performance on standardized tests or are there going to be a range of metrics that they will be evaluated from?
The new evaluations will look at a wide range of metrics: discipline management, student growth, teaching standards, classroom observations & data related to the teacher’s efforts to improve. While testing data can be considered when evaluating student growth, the bill explicitly states that this may not be the only metric considered and that this evaluation must include other metrics. The intent is to evaluate teachers based on a student’s ability to learn, not their performance on a standardized test.
9. Is the Texas Education Agency (TEA) going to develop the framework for these evaluations?
TEA is tasked with developing a general framework for evaluations in conjunction with active educators and other stakeholders for school districts to use as a guide in the evaluation process.
10. What else does this bill deal with?
This bill also modernizes professional development and ensures that it is no longer delivered on general subjects in a one-size-fits-all manner. Teachers are empowered to choose the content and format of their own professional development, and to provide feedback to the State Board of Educator Certification upon completion of the course.