SB 893 Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Did SB 893 reduce the pay for every teacher down to $27,000 per year?

No, absolutely not; this is far from the truth. SB 893 simply removes the outdated and virtually unused minimum teacher salary schedule from statute.  However, as a protection for teachers, the previous floor of $2, 7 54 per month was retained. This bill in no way is intended to dictate what teachers will be paid per month.  It is strictly a protection to ensure that no teachers can receive less than that.

  1. Why did the legislature eliminate the minimum salary schedule?

It was removed because it is outdated and very few, if any, of the school districts use the schedule.  Currently, less than a dozen of the 1250 school districts utilize the teacher salary schedule, the rest create their own salary framework and pay significantly more than these minimums.  The average starting salary for a teacher in Texas is $36,352, which is 33% higher than the statutory minimum currently and under this bill.

SB 893 gives local control to school districts to design and administer their own compensation and teacher development plans.

  1. By eliminating the salary scale will the state only be contributing $27,000 towards teacher salaries and require the districts to make up the difference or make cuts?

No!  Absolutely not. Even with the salary schedule in place, none of the dollars the state gives districts are earmarked specifically for teacher pay. There have been teacher salary increases built into state funding in the past, but these have all been rolled into the basic allotment so there is no specific teacher salary allocation. Districts are required to pay at least the minimum salary schedule, but there is not a specific earmarked source of revenue, state or local, from which that funding must come from.

  1. Does the state currently provide funding for school districts based on the number of salary scale steps the teachers in the district have reached?

No! Absolutely not!  State funding to a district is largely student and property value driven. The salary schedule does not drive the funding formulas.

  1. Without a minimum teacher salary schedule in place, will state funding to each district be reduced down to $27,000 per teacher?

No! Absolutely not!  State funding allocated to districts is not based on the number of teachers or the years on the salary schedule. The amount of funding provided to each school for teacher salaries is not impacted by the passage of SB 893.

FUNDING EXPLANATION: The current state budget I supported on the Senate Floor appropriates $55 billion to public education for the 2016-17 biennium: This is an increase of 6.6% or $3 .4 billion from last session. State funding for education is increased by $1.5 billion over what is needed to fully fund per current law. This includes $1.2 billion related to an increase in the Basic Allotment with roughly $100 per child. These numbers will likely continue to evolve as the bill moves through the legislative process, but it is a good starting point to ensure that education is given the funding it needs to educate our state’s children and support our teachers.

  1. Does this bill tie teacher salary directly to student performance on standardized tests?

No! Absolutely not in the bill as passed by the Senate.  However, a version of the initial bill was poorly written and would have tied teacher salaries directly to student performance on standardized tests. Amendments did away with this and placed control of evaluations in the hands of local school districts. There is explicit language in the bill to limit the use of student scores on a standardized test to measure a teacher’s performance.

  1. Does eliminating the minimum salary schedule impact state contributions to the teacher retirement system?

No, this bill does not change contributions to the retirement system.  There is language specifically in Section 24 of the bill that states our teacher retirement contributions remain based on the same metrics.

  1. Why should the state mandate how teachers will be evaluated?

The bill, as passed by the senate, does not mandate how teachers will be evaluated.  However an early version of the initial bill did mandate how teachers would be evaluated, but that was changed in committee and on the floor with educator input. The final version of SB 893 places control of evaluations in the hands of local school districts with the state providing only a basic framework for districts to build their assessments.

Currently, teachers are only required to be evaluated once every five years and post-evaluation, they are provided with very little constructive feedback after the evaluation. This bill will put in place annual evaluations and ensure that teachers receive feedback that will help them continue to grow.

  1. Are teachers going to be evaluated primarily on student performance on standardized tests or are there going to be a range of metrics that they will be evaluated from?

The new evaluations will look at a wide range of metrics: discipline management, student growth, teaching standards, classroom observations & data related to the teacher’s efforts to improve.

While testing data may be considered when evaluating student growth, the bill explicitly states that this may not be the only metric considered and that this evaluation must include other metrics. The intent is to encourage the districts to develop a broad based evaluation system that reflects the real world elements that affect the overall education of the students, not just student performance on a standardized test.

  1. Is the Texas Education Agency (‘FEA) going to develop the framework for these evaluations?

TEA is tasked with developing a general framework for evaluations in conjunction with active educators and other stakeholders for school districts to use as a guide in the evaluation process. Each district will be free to use the framework to develop an evaluation process that takes into consideration the unique aspects of their district so as to best serve the students .

  1. What else does this bill deal with?

This bill recognizes the unique needs of individual teachers.  This bill modernizes professional development for teachers and ensures that it is no longer delivered on general subjects in a one-size-fits-all manner. Teachers will be empowered to choose the content and format of their own professional development, and to provide feedback to the State Board of Educator Certification upon completion of the course.