The 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature made no change to funding for the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA).
As a result, school entities will continue to seek guidance and support for creating a local optional teacher designation system (LOTDS) and for determining teacher compensation for designated teachers. Now that applications for Cohort D have been submitted and reviewed, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has shared trends to help support applicants for the upcoming school year.
TIA was established through House Bill 3 (HB 3) of the 86th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature with the goal of providing a six-figure salary for the most effective teachers across Texas. While the intention of the TIA was to prioritize teachers at high needs and rural campuses, it’s gaining traction among a wide variety of school districts and charters across the state, both rural and non-rural.
According to TEA, 127 school districts received an allotment for the 2020–2021 school year and 4,617 teachers across the state received a designation. The total TIA allotment funding provided for these teachers to districts was approximately $43,046,976. At least 90 percent of this funding went directly to teacher compensation and many schools are beginning to see the benefits of TIA for their best teachers.
The breakdown of average funding provided for each designated teacher was as follows:
- Recognized: $6,181
- Exemplary: $12,576
- Master: $22,537
Funding remains in place for the upcoming school year and beyond, and more school entities are deciding to engage in the application process. As the TIA grows, so will teacher compensation across the state.
Cohort D applications
In late spring 2021, applications for Cohort D were submitted for approval by TEA. Cohort D applicants for the 2021–2022 school year represented 89 rural and 109 non-rural school entities, and the total number of applications increased overall from the initial number of applicants for TIA funding in Cohorts A through C.
Trends and growth areas of Cohort D applications included the components of teacher observation rubrics, student growth measures, and spending plans. Additionally, considerations for spending plans and stakeholder engagement were discussed. TEA provided specific data and thoughts for school entities as they begin engaging in the application process for Cohort E and beyond.
Cohort D highlights
Trends and growth delineated from Cohort D application data addressed three areas: teacher observation rubric, student growth measures, and spending plans for teacher compensation.
Teacher observation rubric
Most school entities across the state use the T-TESS evaluation system for teacher evaluation. However, a few entities report using either a local option or a nationally recognized tool for teacher evaluation.
- Strengths: Entities had strong calibration practices for teacher observation data, provided ongoing review of data, and correlated teacher observation data to student growth.
- Growth area(s): School entities need to determine the root cause(s) when teacher observation data does not correlate to student growth.
Student growth measures
Data showed a variation in the type of student growth measures chosen by school entities. The categories of measures reported included: pre-tests/post-tests, portfolios, student learning objectives (SLO), value-added measures (VAM), and other. While there was quite a variance among the type of measure used, a large portion of applicants reported using other growth measures for the LOTDS.
- Strengths: Entities had strong stakeholder engagement to determine the type of student growth measures used, as well as how to consistently implement student growth across teaching assignments.
- Growth area(s): School entities need to have strong processes for measuring student growth across the district. While many entities have strong measures on campuses, a requirement is the calibration and consistent measurement of student growth throughout the district.
School entities applying for Cohort D chose to provide compensation to teachers either in payments over the course of the school year or as a stipend, though the majority are choosing a one-time payment. Many of the entities explored ways to provide compensation not only to the teacher earning the designation, but also to those individuals working with the greatest need and those individuals impacting student learning throughout the school day.
- Strengths: Entities engaged teachers to determine allotment distribution and had strong processes for board approval of the LOTDS. Entities also created a system of how to reward teachers who have or will obtain National Board Certification.
- Growth area(s): School entities need to develop and refine processes of the spending plan specifically focused on the movement of teachers and non-designated teachers.
For entities intending to apply for Cohort E (or beyond), TEA recommends developing specific procedures to support teacher compensation efforts. Areas to address include systems for payment, schedules for payment, how TIA funds align with recruitment and retention goals, and how the TIA can be integrated with teacher recognition efforts across the organization. Being more thoughtful about teacher compensation will strengthen the LOTDS and provide value in the process.
Additionally, TEA reinforced the necessity of a strong and robust stakeholder engagement process in development of the LOTDS. The process should provide opportunities for ongoing feedback and discussion to improve and refine the LOTDS and to ensure all stakeholders have voice in the process.
TEA continues to update and provide guidance to school entities through tiatexas.org.
Support for the application process can also be found in an approved list of technical assistance providers approved by the TEA.
Jennifer Barton is an HR and compensation consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Jennifer an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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