HBA-KMH H.B. 878 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 878 By: Cuellar Higher Education 1/29/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE 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. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY 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 BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Chapter 56, Education Code, by adding Subchapter N, as follows: SUBCHAPTER N. CREATING TEACHING EXCELLENCE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM 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 subchapter. 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 subchapter. 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.