Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 878
By: Cuellar
Higher Education


Currently, the state pay structure for teachers provides incentive raises
for each level of advanced degree obtained.  Therefore, teachers continuing
their education will receive commensurate raises. H.B. 878 creates the
Teaching Excellence Scholarship Program which provides incentive and
financial support for teachers to pursue master's degrees and continue work
in their field. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill
expressly delegates rulemaking authority to The Texas Higher Education
Coordinating Board in SECTION 1 (Section 56.403, Education Code) and
SECTION 2 of this bill. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Chapter 56, Education Code, by adding Subchapter N, as


Sec.  56.401.  DEFINITIONS.  Defines "coordinating board" as the Texas
Higher Education Coordinating Board.  Defines "eligible institution" to
mean an institution of higher education offering a master's degree program
in a program area in which the coordinating board has determined there is a
critical need for primary or secondary public school classroom teachers in
this state.  Defines "institution of higher education" to mean any public
technical institute, public junior college, public senior college or
university, medical or dental unit, or other agency of higher education as
defined in Section 61.003. 

Sec.  56.402.  PROGRAM NAME; PURPOSE.  Establishes the title of this
program as the Creating Teaching Excellence Scholarship Program (program)
and an individual scholarship awarded under this subchapter as a teaching
excellence scholarship (program scholarship). Provides the purpose of this

Sec.  56.403.  ADMINISTRATION OF PROGRAM.  Requires the board to administer
the program and adopt any rules necessary to implement the program or this
subchapter. Prohibits the total amount of program scholarships awarded from
exceeding the amount available to the program.  Requires the board to give
highest priority to awarding program scholarships to teachers who
demonstrate their commitment to return to their home districts and to teach
in the areas in which they have pursued the master's degree.  Authorizes
the board to appoint a committee to review applications and make
recommendations on awards. Prohibits the board from considering areas
related to primary or secondary school administration or management when
determining areas of critical need for awarding scholarships.  Requires the
board to consider the areas in which the largest number of primary or
secondary students critically need additional classroom teachers with
proven mastery of classroom teaching skills. 

Sec.  56.404.  ELIGIBLE TEACHER.  Requires a person, in order to be
eligible initially for a program scholarship, to meet certain criteria.
Prohibits a person from receiving a program  scholarship for more than 60
semester credit hours or the equivalent. 

Sec.  56.405.  ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS.  Provides that a person
continues to be eligible for further program scholarships during each
semester or term in which the person is enrolled at an eligible institution
only if the person makes satisfactory academic progress toward a master's
degree, has completed at least 80 percent of the semester credit hours
attempted in the previous semester or term, and has at least a 2.5 overall
grade point average on a four-point scale or the equivalent.  Provides that
a person failing to meet any of these requirements is not eligible for a
program scholarship during the next semester or term in which that person
is enrolled, but may regain eligibility in a subsequent semester or term if
the person completes the semester or term during which the student is not
eligible and meets all of the above requirements. 

Sec.  56.406.  SCHOLARSHIP USE.  Authorizes recipients of program
scholarships to use the money for any usual and customary costs of
attendance incurred by the student. 

Sec.  56.407.  SCHOLARSHIP AMOUNT.  Provides the criteria by which the
board determines the scholarship amount.  Authorizes the board to award a
monthly stipend to a person receiving a program scholarship if the person
is a full-time student and funds are appropriated for that purpose. 

Sec.  56.408.  FUNDING.  Authorizes the board to solicit and accept gifts
and grants from any public or private source for the purposes of this

SECTION 2.  Requires the board to award program scholarships beginning with
the 1999 fall semester.  Requires the board to adopt rules for awarding
program scholarships not later than July 25, 1999. 

SECTION 3.  Emergency clause.
  Effective date: upon passage.