A change from House Bill 3 is the addition of a new section of code, Tex. Edu. Code 28.0062. This new code places new requirements on charter schools in the areas of Reading Academies and Certification of Practices to TEA. There is also a new testing requirement for teaching certificates for Pre-K through 6th-grade teachers. This requirement is not applicable to charters unless they require a Texas certification for their teachers. Additionally, the new certification requirement is not retroactive, it will only apply to people who obtain a certificate after January 2021.

Reading Academies

All teachers and administrators of kindergarten, first, second, or third-grade students will be required to attend a reading academy. TEA is in the process of creating guidelines and authorizing providers of this training. The list of authorized providers is expected by March of 2020 and trainings will begin in the summer of 2020. The training will be specialized for teachers and administrators and will be offered in two different manners. The comprehensive program is an in-person training and TEA expects the cost to be between $3000 and $6000 per person. The other option is a blended program that will combine in-person training with internet-based training. They expect this type of program to cost from $300 to $500 per person.

Certification to TEA

Each school will have to certify to TEA that they are

  1. implementing a phonics curriculum in grades K-3;
  2. prioritizing the placement of highly effective teachers in K-2; and
  3. utilizing integrated reading instruments used to diagnose reading development and comprehension to support each student in pre-k-3.

TEA will have a survey for schools to complete in order to certify these three requirements.

Paying for these Requirements

TEA suggests allocating funds from a number of different sources in order to pay for the reading requirements imposed in HB3. They suggest using funds from the early education allotment, the dyslexia allotment, the basic allotment, the bilingual education allotment, and the compensatory education allotment. Additionally, if schools choose to provide a stipend to the teacher to cover the cost of the reading academy, they may count those stipends as part of the required 30% compensation increase.

TEA has provided a webinar on this topic, which can be viewed here. As always, TCSA is happy to assist your charter in complying with these requirements. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact TCSA.

TCSA received helpful feedback from member schools earlier this year in regards to scheduling Member Council meetings. Many of our member schools indicated that traveling to Austin for a meeting was often challenging for school leaders with their busy schedules and the difficulty of being away from their organization for a day or two.

Based on that feedback, TCSA has scheduled webinars for Wednesday, May 8 and Wednesday, August 28. Participants will be able to participate via phone (like a conference call) but will also be able to view meeting content on their computer screen. We anticipate that these webinars will last 60 to 90 minutes.

Although the May 8 and August 28 Member Council meetings will be presented in this webinar format, the October 29 Member Council will be an in-person meeting held at the 2019 TCSA Conference in San Antonio.

Member Councils are a great way to get the latest updates on legislative action, TEA requirements, and other issues that impact the public charter school movement. Be sure to register now for one or both of our TCSA Member Council webinars!

By Samantha Womack, TCSA Communications Specialist

About 1,500 charter leaders and innovators participated in the 2015 Texas Charter Schools Conference this week in San Antonio.

Hundreds were inspired and energized by opening keynote David Robinson, education advocate and Spurs center, during the opening session on Wednesday.

“Charters are where my heart is,” Robinson said. “Leaders, thank you for bringing promise to our students.”

See the tweets of audience members.

The Honorable Joe Straus, speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, also welcomed charter leaders and innovators to San Antonio.

“I appreciate all you do and want to continue to be your partner,” Straus said.

Thursday was packed with a variety of educational sessions, from advocating for your school to the Texas Education Agency on the Performance Framework.

Closing out the conference, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and TCSA Executive Director David Dunn participated in a charter school Q&A.

Bush explained how his role enables him to support public charter schools through the management of the Permanent School Fund assets. It’s access to the PSF bond guarantee program that has saved charters millions of dollars and returned that money to the classroom.

We hope you will join us for the 2016 Texas Charter Schools Conference October 3-5 in Austin.

There's less than a month left to register for the only statewide conference for Texas public charter school leaders and educators!

The Texas Charter Schools Conference is early this year on October 28-30, so don't miss out on specialized workshops, dozens of educational sessions and networking opportunities with industry experts. You make the conference better each year and we hope to see you in San Antonio!

Check out the great video below to review fun snapshots from at last year's Texas Charter Schools Conference.

By Martha Fernandez, TCSA Director of Advocacy

Since the end of the 84th Legislative Session, I’ve been meeting with several of our charter school leaders to discuss their advocacy plans for the next 15 months. And while they’ve been busy getting their schools up and running for the 2015-16 school year, everyone has been positive and passionate about activating a grassroots network among teachers and parents. Join the TX Charter Revolution!

This spring, we had several priority bills pass into law and we had more parents and teachers than ever before at our rally at the Capitol. But we can and should do more.

My goal is to continue to build TCSA’s grassroots advocacy offerings to support our schools. I understand that every campus is unique in its mission and in the community that it serves, which is why the TCSA advocacy team hit the road on a listening tour. I want to know our members' grassroots needs in order for TCSA to provide targeted and useful support to its members.

So far, I've had the chance to meet with members from International Leadership of Texas, Uplift Education, Life School, Austin Achieve, Montessori for All, KIPP Austin, IDEA Austin and Harmony Public Schools. I will continue meeting and working with you and hope that you will reach out to me if you are interested in hearing more. I am happy to visit as many campuses as possible to support the great work happening on the ground and to connect you to your area lawmakers.

Email Martha Fernandez