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Senate Committee on Education - 81st R.S. (2009)

Committee Members
Florence Shapiro, Chair
Dan Patrick, Vice Chair
Kip Averitt
Wendy Davis
Mario Gallegos
Steve Ogden
Kel Seliger
Leticia Van de Putte
Royce West
Tommy Williams
Charges
• Review the performance and accountability of the state's charter schools. Specifically, study the following:
  • Options for increasing the number of outstanding charter schools;
  • Best practices employed by high performing charter schools and make recommendations for ways to implement these strategies in other charter and public schools;
  • Feasibility of operating charter schools focused on providing high quality education for students with disabilities, such as autism;
  • Charter school initiatives in other states, specifically including incentives for public education campuses to become charter schools;
  • Options for development and funding of a charter schools facilities program.
• Review the state's education policy and initiatives regarding middle grades. Make recommendations to ensure a comprehensive state strategy for preparing students at the middle grades for high school retention and success. This review should include an examination of school-based strategies and best practices that encourage at-risk youth to finish school and that deter delinquency, drug abuse and violence.
• Review teacher compensation, evaluations, professional development, certification and training programs. Specifically, review the following:
  • Teacher compensation including the Minimum Salary Schedule, incentive pay, merit pay, and stipends;
  • How teacher evaluations can be effective mechanisms for increasing student achievement and improving instructional practices by including multiple measures, particularly student achievement data based on growth. Evaluate how teacher evaluations can direct district decisions on providing professional development, mentoring, intervention, and possible dismissal in response to underperforming teachers;
  • State sponsored professional development initiatives including the alignment of professional development with curriculum and real work experiences and the value of professional development for bilingual, ESL and special education teachers in increasing student achievement.
  • Need to adopt statewide standards for teacher certification and in-service training programs for regular and special education teachers at both the pre-service and inĀ­service levels to ensure all teachers are highly qualified to teach students with disabilities.
• Examine cost drivers in education including state requirements that impact school district budgets. Recommend opportunities for achieving cost efficiencies.
• Study the efficacy of immersion versus dual-language instruction of English as a second language students. Make recommendations for improving programs and instituting best practices.
• Study the effectiveness of Texas school districts' special education programs. Review the range of needs of special education students, districts' ability to provide an appropriate education for these students, and assess the effectiveness of programs currently funded for special education. Make recommendations for improvement.
• Review dual credit courses including the cost of delivery, funding mechanisms, and possibility of a statewide dual credit system. This review should also include an examination of the rigor, quality and consistency of dual credit courses. (Joint charge with Senate Higher Education Committee)
• Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Education, 81st Legislature, Regular and Called Sessions, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. Review the implementation of legislation related to the state's accountability system including the revised dropout rate calculation, textbooks, and the virtual school network. Specifically, monitor the following:
  • HB 3, relating to public school accountability;
  • HB 2488, relating to open-source textbooks, and HB 4294, relating to textbooks and the use of technology;
  • HB 3646, relating to public school finance and programs; and
  • SB 174, relating to an accountability system for educator preparation programs.

Note:
Senator Averitt, Member, 1/30/2009-7/14/2010. Senator Seliger appointed Member, 7/14/2010 (Press release, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, 7/14/2010).

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