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Clear signals to prepare and pay teachers; invest wisely in our 5.5 million students

August 11, 2023
Today, the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment released their report after two days of hearings this July. We applaud committee members and Chairman Buckley for sending a strong signal in this report that the Texas Legislature should enact policies that support improving outcomes for Texas students and meaningfully supporting educators and education systems.

As highlighted by the data in this report, education leaders, advocates and policymakers must take a multi-faceted approach in policy to address alarming achievement rates of Texas students.

Key student achievement data outlined in the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment report (see page 11):
  • Overall, from 2015 to 2022, the percentage of 3rd through 8th grade Texas students meeting or exceeding grade-level standards in math has increased from 37% to 39%, and in reading, it has risen from 41% to 52%.
  • As of 2022, no grade level had more than 60% of students ready for the next grade.
  • Moreover, achievement gaps persist, with significant disparities among different student groups. For example, in 2022, only 29% of economically disadvantaged 3rd through 8th grade students met math standards, compared to 55% of non-economically disadvantaged students.
  • Similarly, while 35% of Emergent Bilingual 3rd-8th grade students met reading standards, 56% of non-Emergent Bilingual students met those same standards.

The Select Committee report includes many recommendations that directly align with Philanthropy Advocates priorities, specifically:
  • Page 12, Rec. 1.: Adjust Basic Allotment for Inflation 
  • Page 15, Rec. 8.: Implement Recommendations of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force
Together, these two strategies would ensure schools have sufficient operating funds to offset the rising cost of inflation and have additional resources to increase teacher compensation, while also prioritizing strategies to improve educator preparation pathways and support models (notably the Texas Teacher Residency Program, increases to the Mentor Allotment and free Pre-K for teachers’ kids as reflected in HB 11 and SB 9 from the 88th regular session). We applaud the Select Committee for recommending strategies that will lead to a sustainable pipeline of highly skilled and dedicated educators who are equipped to meet the needs of all Texas students.
  • Page 13, Rec. 16.: Strategically Adjusting School Finance Allotments (Building on Investments Made in HB 3 (2019))
We applaud the Select Committee for their continued commitment to investing in students and the willingness to make adjustments to better address the critical needs of students and education systems. Specifically, Philanthropy Advocates praises the targeted approach stated in this report to adjust the Early Education Allotment (EEA). The EEA is intended to serve Pre-K through 3rd grade students, but not all of those students currently generate the allotment dollars. This modification supports ongoing efforts to increase access to full-day Pre-K to improve reading and math proficiency.

Further, the Select Committee is wise to address barriers to implementation of public-private Pre-K partnerships, which were encouraged in HB 3 (2019). Unfortunately, different thresholds between childcare eligibility and Pre-K eligibility have made Pre-K partnerships difficult to implement. This recommended strategy increases choices in high-quality early learning for Texas families.

Finally, the Select Committee named many strategies to improving student literacy and numeracy skills, as well as recommendations to ensure parents are empowered with the knowledge and skills necessary to support their students’ reading and math proficiency. Philanthropy Advocates supports sustainable early literacy and numeracy instruction and outcomes and appreciates the Select Committee’s explicit attention to differentiated student achievement across student groups, especially emergent bilingual learners (English Language Learners). 
This report released by the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment articulates clear strategies to prepare and pay teachers and ensure education systems have resources to improve student achievement. Investing wisely in our 5.5 million students and teachers stands to improve postsecondary success rates and ultimately will ensure the state meets goals articulated in both the Building a Talent Strong Texas plan and by the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.

Philanthropy Advocates appreciates the Select Committee's efforts to meaningfully support Texas students and teachers.

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