HBA-JEK H.B. 500 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 500 By: Grusendorf Public Education 2/19/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In 1993, the Texas Legislature mandated the creation of the Texas public school accountability system to accredit school districts and rate schools. The Texas school accountability system has gained acclaim, but the system can be improved. The state must recruit and retain excellent teachers, especially in the face of the current teacher shortage. A recent survey conducted at Baylor University reveals that teacher morale in Texas is declining, largely due to student attitudes and behavior and treatment by administrators. House Bill 500 provides teacher mentor and induction programs, targeted assistance to low-performing schools, new ratings and rewards for schools and districts, alternative teacher certification options, and a math initiative. 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 8 (Section 39.023, Education Code), SECTION 9 (Section 39.0721, Education Code), SECTION 11 (Section 39.132, Education Code), and SECTION 13 (Section 42.159, Education Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 500 amends the Education Code relating to various provisions of public education. Coordination of Records The bill requires the commissioner of education and the commissioner of higher education to ensure that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) coordinate and standardize records relating to student performance to permit TEA and THECB to match individual student records so that a student's academic performance may be assessed throughout the student's educational career (Sec. 7.006). Teacher Mentor and Induction Programs To the extent that funds are available, the bill requires the commissioner of education (commissioner) or a person designated by the commissioner to make grants to school districts of $3,000 for each new teacher who holds a school district teaching permit or alternative certification, and $1,000 for each new teacher who has certification from the State Board for Educator Certification (certification board). The bill requires the school district to use this money for the support of teacher mentoring, recruitment, and professional development programs (Sec. 21.005). Alternative Certification of Person Holding Bachelor's Degree The bill authorizes the certification board to issue alternative certification to a person who passes a comprehensive examination administered by the certification board and who holds a bachelor's degree in one or more academic majors related to the essential knowledge and skills curriculum. The bill provides that a person whose academic major is related to only one of these subject areas is authorized to receive a certificate to teach only in that subject area (Sec. 21.0491). Professional School District Employees and Personal Liability The bill extends personal liability limitations to a professional employee of a school district who provides personnel information on a current or former employee of the school district to another school or district (Sec. 22.051). Parental Notification The bill requires a school district to give parents or guardians notice about the qualifications of district teachers at least once each school year. The bill removes the current provision that requires a district to provide written notice to a parent or guardian if a district assigns an inappropriately certified or uncertified teacher to the same classroom for more than 30 consecutive school days. The bill requires TEA to develop guidelines regarding the required notice no later than October 1, 2001. For the 2001-2002 school year, a school district is required to provide the notice no later than November 1, 2001 (Sec. 21.057 and SECTION 5). Bonuses for Service at Low-Performing School Campus The bill entitles an experienced, extraordinary teacher or principal who agrees to serve for three school years at a low-performing campus identified by the State Board of Education to a $3,000 bonus. The bill requires the commissioner to adopt criteria to identify such a teacher. The criteria include the teacher's subject matter expertise, and the performance of the teacher's students and former students (Sec. 21.411). The bill requires the commissioner to determine, withhold, and distribute each fiscal year an amount for bonuses to be distributed under the educator duties and benefits provisions. The bill requires the commissioner to deduct this amount from the total amount appropriated for allotment under the Foundation School Fund and then reduce each district's tier one allocation accordingly (Sec. 42.152). Professional Development Institutes in Mathematics The bill requires the commissioner to develop and make available professional development institutes for mathematics teachers who teach at the fifth through eighth grade level. The bill provides that such institutes address skills to be taught and effective instruction techniques, and requires the commissioner to adopt criteria for the selection of teachers authorized to attend the professional development institutes (Sec. 21.454). Voluntary Standardized Assessment Instruments The bill authorizes the commissioner to participate in multistate efforts to develop voluntary standardized end-of-course assessment instruments. The bill authorizes the commissioner, by rule, to require a school district to administer such assessment instruments. It also requires the admission, review, and dismissal committee of a special education student to determine whether any modifications or exemptions are necessary for the student. The bill requires TEA to release the questions and answer keys to each assessment instrument after the last time the instrument is administered for a school year (Sec. 39.023). Voluntary Gold Performance Rating Program The bill requires the commissioner, in consultation with an advisory committee appointed by the commissioner, to develop a voluntary gold performance rating program administered by the TEA. The bill specifies the criteria to be used to determine voluntary gold performance ratings. The bill requires the commissioner to appoint the advisory committee no later than March 1, 2002 and to adopt any rules necessary for implementation and administration of the program no later than March 30, 2006 (Sec. 39.0721 and SECTION 9). Declaration of Emergency Status at Low-Performing Campuses H.B. 500 grants the commissioner authority to authorize a school district's board of trustees upon application to declare emergency status for a campus in the district that is considered low-performing according to the accreditation status issued by TEA. The bill provides that the application is considered granted if the commissioner does not notify the board of trustees in writing within 30 days of receipt that the application is denied. The bill authorizes the commissioner to waive state laws and rules in order to aggressively address problems at the campus. The bill prohibits the commissioner from approving emergency status at a campus for longer than two years unless the board of trustees submits a written application for an emergency status extension not to exceed one year. The commissioner is authorized to adopt rules to administer the emergency status provisions (Secs. 39.131 and 39.132). Campus Bonus Allotment The bill entitles a school district to an annual allotment of $3,000 for each full-time equivalent teacher at a campus determined by the commissioner to have shown extraordinary improvement and $1,000 for each full-time equivalent teacher at a campus determined by the commissioner to have shown significant improvement in the previous school year. The bill specifies that funds be used only at the campus that received the allotment, and requires the site-based decision-making committee of that campus to determine the manner in which the allotment will be used. The bill authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules to administer the campus bonus allotment provisions (Sec. 42.159). EFFECTIVE DATE SECTIONS 2, 6, 7, 12, and 13 of the Act take effect September 1, 2001. The remainder of the Act takes effect on passage or, if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001. The Act applies beginning with the 2001-2002 school year.