HBA-JEK C.S.H.B. 1475 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 1475 By: Kitchen Public Education 4/3/2001 Committee Report (Substituted) BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE While Texas has brought many computers into its primary and secondary schools, classroom teachers have varying knowledge of how to use technology in their classrooms. Classroom use of computers remains relatively low nationwide and only about one-third of all United States public school teachers feel "well" or "very well" prepared to use computers or the Internet in their teaching. The 76th Legislature created the Master Reading Teacher Grant Program to provide training and incentives for teachers to improve student reading performance. C.S.H.B. 1475 creates the Master Technology Teacher Grant Program to provide similar training and incentives for Texas educators to learn about integrating computers into their classroom instruction. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the commissioner of education in SECTION 1 (Section 21.411, Education Code) and to the State Board for Educator Certification in SECTION 4 of this bill. ANALYSIS C.S.H.B. 1475 amends the Education Code to require the commissioner of education (commissioner) to establish a master technology teacher grant program (program) to encourage teachers to become certified as master technology teachers and to work with other teachers and students to increase the use of technology in the classroom (Sec. 21.411). The bill requires the State Board for Educator Certification (board) to issue a master technology teacher certificate (certificate) and sets forth the eligibility requirements for teachers to receive the certificate (Sec. 21.0482). C.S.H.B. 1475 requires the commissioner to make grants in the amount of $5,000 from funds appropriated for that purpose to school districts to pay stipends to selected certified master technology teachers. The bill requires the commissioner by rule to annually identify and rank in order of highest need each high-need campus and to give preference to teachers who teach at high-need campuses (Sec. 21.411). The bill authorizes a school district to apply to the commissioner for grants to pay stipends to certified master technology teachers. The bill sets forth the criteria for evaluating and approving the applications. The bill sets forth provisions regarding the distribution, funding, use, and auditing of the grants (Sec. 21.411). The bill authorizes the commissioner to adopt other rules as necessary to implement the program (Sec. 21.411). The bill requires the board to propose rules establishing requirements and prescribing an examination for master technology teacher certification no later than September 1, 2003 (SECTION 4). The bill amends the Government Code to include stipends paid to teachers through the program in the definition of "salary and wages" for the purpose of calculating member contributions and benefits under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (Sec. 822.201). EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE C.S.H.B. 1475 differs from the original by excluding open-enrollment charter schools from the master technology teacher grant program (program). The substitute sets forth additional requirements for the technology instruction program and provides that a person must pass an examination to receive a master technology teacher certificate (Sec. 21.0482). The substitute requires the commissioner of education to determine the method of distributing state funds for the program if state funds are appropriated but insufficient to fully fund a grant, rather than requiring each grant and stipend to be reduced proportionately (Sec. 21.411).