To strengthen teacher quality, effectiveness, and retention in Texas, reforms are needed at the state, district, and agency level, a new report from the Texas Teaching Commission argues.
The report, Supporting Students, Honoring Teachers: Recommendations for the Next Generation of Teaching Policies in Texas, includes sixty-three recommendations for preparing, recruiting, developing, evaluating, compensating, and retaining the best teachers. Among other things, the report calls for eliminating minimum salary schedules, which determine teachers' pay based on number of years in the classroom, and for developing a more rigorous annual teacher evaluation system that uses multiple measures, including standardized tests, to assess student growth.
The commission, which was first convened in December 2011 by Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of the Communities Foundation of Texas that is partially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, comprised teachers' representatives, district and higher education personnel, business leaders, and other stakeholders. "We wanted to give honor to teachers in this," Mike Moses, a former Texas Education Agency chief who led the commission, told the Texas Tribune. "We also wanted to say, 'Here's some things that we may need to do to reinvent the way we think about teachers and teaching in Texas.' And we had some pretty robust discussions about how we can do that."
Four state teachers associations that participated in the effort refused to sign on to the final report. According to Holly Eaton, who represented the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, their objections stem mainly from the report's positions on teacher evaluation and compensation. Jennifer Canaday, who represented the Association of Texas Professional Educators on the commission, said that by concentrating disproportionately on changes that would save the state money, the report failed to make a strong statement about prioritizing state investment in education.
"As an organization, we felt compelled to respond to the rising interest [in] and growing need to address the challenges affecting the teaching profession and believed our unique position in the public-private arena well suited us to convene stakeholders from education, policy, business, and philanthropy," said Educate Texas executive director John Fitzpatrick. "We are hopeful that through this process, teachers in Texas will feel honored and empowered and, most importantly, appreciated, for the work that they do each and every single day."