A bill in the Texas House has some East Texas teachers worried about the future of their paychecks.
Senate bill No. 893, which would would affect how teachers are evaluated and compensated, was passed by at 27-4 vote in the Texas Senate last week, and is currently pending in the House.
Betty Berndt, the chapter president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said that many teachers are worried that the “objective measures” called for in the bill, will tie teacher pay to how well students do on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.
“We don't want our pay tied to a test because we don't get to choose our kids.” Berndt said.
Berndt said that test performance-based compensation could discourage teachers from teaching in certain districts.
“Some schools may be in lower economic status and others may be a higher status, and that has a lot to do with their learning.” Berndt said. “Some homes have parents who are home with them at night to help them with homework, while other parents are working to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.”
Tyler Independent School District chief academic officer, Christy Hanson, explained that the STAAR testing requires more training and focus from students.
“The STAAR test, which began in 2012, is four hours long and is timed. The rigor of the STAAR test is very different from the rigor of the TAKS test,” Hanson said. “It's focused more on the processes rather than the content specifically."
Hanson said that STAAR test results, which are required for grades 3 through 12, are used to evaluate Tyler ISD teachers, but it currently does not affect their pay.
Berndt believes that if House bill No. 2543 passes, the law could potentially take veteran teachers back to the pay of an entry-level educator.
“[Teachers] need to find out what's at stake with these bills and call their legislators.” Berndt said. “To hold the teachers to the test … that's not fair.”
Hanson agreed that the test does not always gauge performance.
"We have students who may have test anxiety,” Hanson said. “So they may do very well in their coursework, and when it comes to test day, because of stress, or just having a bad day, they don't do well that day."