March 17, 2023
The effectiveness of classroom teachers is the most important in-school factor for improving student academic performance. Furthermore, research shows that the quality of teacher preparation is critically important for teacher effectiveness. As the halfway point of the 88th Legislative Session approaches, both the House and Senate continue to signal their prioritization of effective teaching and specifically high-quality preparation. The Educate Texas Policy and Advocacy team continues to be actively involved in conversations about advancing strong educator preparation with legislative offices and other advocates.
Representative Harold Dutton’s (D- Houston) House Bill 11 (HB 11) and Senator Brandon Creighton’s (R-Conroe) Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) propose sweeping reforms in an attempt to address both the short- and longer-term staffing challenges that Texas schools continue to face. Both bills appear to build on the work of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force. The final Task Force recommendations, which were released last month and align closely with the Teaching and Learning Council’s 88th Legislative Priorities, focus on addressing teacher vacancy challenges through compensation, training and support, and working conditions.
Both the House and Senate Show Support for Teacher Residencies
Notably, both the House and Senate bills define and incentivize a sustainable teacher residency pathway to ensure more students have access to teachers who receive strong, on-the-job preparation. Through the proposed “Teacher Residency Partnership Program,” the state would provide funding to support stipends for residents and to support districts in modernizing their staffing models. Additionally, the bills create a new residency educator certificate that would allow candidates who successfully complete a residency to forgo a pedagogy examination for a standard teaching certificate.
The Teaching and Learning Council’s leading recommendation for the 88th Legislative Session is to define and incentivize key elements of program quality, including residencies, across diverse preparation program models. The Legislature’s endorsement of teacher residencies reflects growing evidence that when implemented with fidelity, these programs can produce candidates who are more diverse, more likely to stay in the classroom longer, and have a greater impact on student learning outcomes than other preparation models (see US Prep’s Why Teacher Residencies Need to be the Standard). Texas Tech University, for example, has seen its residency candidates yield better outcomes in math for nonwhite students, students with disabilities, English learners, and economically disadvantaged students compared to candidates prepared via other pathways.1
The House and Senate Diverge in Teacher Compensation Strategies
The House and Senate currently differ in their approaches for increasing teacher compensation beyond adjustments to the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA). While both bills seek to raise pay increases for teachers designated under the TIA and add a new designation tier, HB 11 also modifies the current minimum salary schedule formula to differentiate teacher compensation based on certification status and three broader bands of experience. Alternatively, SB 9 proposes to establish an across-the-board teacher salary increase for the 2023-2024 school year in an amount yet to be determined.
HB 11 also adjusts the Basic Allotment while SB 9 does not. These changes, which are identical to provisions within Representative Ken King’s (R-Canadian) HB 100, increase the Basic Allotment by $50 and require that 50% of additional funding be used to increase compensation for teachers, counselors, nurses, and librarians.
It should also be noted that both HB 11 and SB 9 propose identical increases to the Mentor Program Allotment, a recommendation proposed by both the Teacher Vacancy Task Force and the Teaching and Learning Council.
Educators Remain a Top Priority
All students deserve access to a highly qualified teacher. With the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House all naming the need to address the educator workforce, we anticipate both HB 11 and SB 9 will drive these conversations in the second half of the 88th Legislative Session.
SB 9 will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, March 22 at 9 a.m., and HB 11 will likely be heard in the House Public Education Committee in the coming weeks. Click here to watch the Senate hearing as they stream live.