Consortium’s Research and Policy Recommendations 2017

Based upon conclusive survey findings and conversations with Consortium members across the state, foundations in Texas are passionate about protecting and improving public education. The Consortium is poised to build on its tremendous success in 2015. Again, the Consortium commissioned, conducted, and is sharing research on its priorities to the Texas Legislature during the 2017 Texas Legislative Session. The top three themes selected by Consortium members are:

    • Guided Pathways to College or Career:

      • In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed sweeping changes to Texas high school curriculum. In response, the Consortium and others scrambled to examine the capacity of Texas public schools to implement the bill, including issues like the availability of counselors to explain changes to students and parents. The Ray Marshall Center report commissioned in 2014 by the Consortium had tremendous impact on policy in 2015 and informed the passage of House Bill 18, a piece of legislation that provides millions of dollars to support counselor training. However, research on how districts are actually implementing the changes has been lacking. As a result, the Consortium commissioned the George H.W. Bush School at Texas A&M University to do a qualitative analysis on how school districts across Texas are implementing HB5. This report includes case studies and policy recommendations.

Click here for HB 5 Talking Points

    • Early Childhood Education and Pre-Kindergarten:

      • The passage of House Bill 4 in 2015 marked a turning point for early childhood education in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott promised to address the quality of Texas pre-k during his campaign. He followed through on that pledge and supported the restoration of some of the pre-k funds that were cut in 2011. The Children at Risk report commissioned in 2014 by the Consortium had tremendous impact on policy and informed the passage of House Bill 4 in 2015. Thanks in large part to the Consortium’s policy recommendations, the Governor’s pre-k bill includes important new provisions related to parent engagement and to the collection of data about the true quality of public school pre-kindergarten.

      • Now, the real work begins. Because the restored pre-k funding has been distributed as a grant, local school districts are required to apply for the money and the Texas Education Agency is responsible for setting the rules by which funding is distributed. The Texas Education Agency is woefully under-staffed to implement this or other legislation, so technical assistance and outreach will likely be minimal. However, legislators want to know exactly what the state’s investment is doing in their districts.

      • In 2017, legislators want to know how House Bill 4 is being implemented. Before any expansion of pre-kindergarten access or quality will be approved, House Bill 4 must prove itself. House Bill 4 demands more transparency and higher quality. Therefore, the Consortium commissioned Texans Care for Children and five regional research partners to do a quantitative and qualitative data analysis to better understand which districts applied for funding and which did not and the reasons behind that decision. The research findings are outlined in the link below.

Click here for HB 4 Talking Points
    • Teacher Effectiveness and Support:

      • The single most important variable in student achievement is the quality of the individual teacher in the classroom. While Texas has a variety of district and state initiatives focusing on teacher recruitment, training, development and retention, there is room to improve. Knowing how important each individual teacher is, it is critical that we consider the manner that teachers are prepared to lead classrooms with innovative, effective and inspirational instruction. Educate Texas developed the Texas Teacher Preparation Collaborative for 2015-2017 to work with school districts and higher education institutions to share and scale research, practice, and insight around human capital and teacher effectiveness to ensure that all students are ready for college and career. The Collaborative provides a platform for practitioners and policy makers to focus on teacher preparation and highlight the best practices and policies that Texas can adopt to make real change for current and future Texas teachers.

      • The Collaborative is chaired by Jim Nelson, former Commissioner of Education, and met from the fall of 2015 through the fall of 2016 in order to examine the best practices and policies at the district, higher education, state and national levels; review the research on effective teacher preparation practices; share the shifts programs have made to their teacher preparation practices and policies; and make recommendations that can be implemented for both policy and practice of teacher preparation.

      • While the Collaborative membership includes a variety of perspectives, there is a need to elevate the voice of current educators and their experiences in preparing to become teachers. The lessons from current teachers about what they were and were not prepared for once they entered their classrooms are critical to inform and guide improvements in teacher preparation policy and practice in Texas.

      • The Consortium’s Teacher Preparation Policy Work Group commissioned TNTP to conduct focus groups with practicing teachers across Texas. TNTP developed a report that highlights the elements of preparation experiences that helped and/or would have helped teachers lead their classrooms. Findings of the TNTP research are outlined in the link below.

Click here for Teacher Prep Talking Points

School Finance:

  • The work group on school finance is arguably the most critical work group, if not for the simple fact that school finance reform is a top priority of many Texas legislators. To date, TEGAC has coordinated a pooled fund for school finance communications and research in partnership with our research partner, the Center for Public Policy Priorities. The project is divided into two phases. The first phase includes research around student outcomes and an alternative school finance modeling system that has been developed from scratch by CPPP. The second phase is designed to address longer-term objectives to help educate a cohort of key legislators on the complexities of the school finance system and help them research and determine the level of funding needed to ensure a quality education for all students.

Click here for School Finance Talking Points