HB 3, this past session’s major school finance bill, establishes an optional Local Teacher Designation System and Teacher Incentive Allotment. This hotly contested provision originally leaned on high-stakes test results when developing merit pay standards, but TSTA successfully lobbied legislators to limit the TEA commissioner’s authority to mandate the use of the STAAR in setting criteria for merit pay and give districts greater flexibility. TEA has subsequently released details on the implementation of the new designation system and allotment.
In summary, Local Education Agencies (LEAs), if they choose, can designate high performing teachers as Master, Exemplary, or Recognized based on statewide performance descriptors for these designations. The designation requires teacher observation and consideration of the performance of a teacher’s students. Other evidence of teacher performance may be considered, such as teacher leadership and student surveys. National Board Certified Teachers will automatically earn a Recognized designation.
The LEA can receive $3,000 to $32,000 per year for every designated teacher they employ. LEAs receive greater funding for designated teachers who work on rural and/or high-needs campuses. At least 90% of the Teacher Incentive Allotment funds must be used on teacher compensation on the campus where the designated teacher works but would not necessarily go to the teacher whose designation earned the allotment. The remaining funds could be used for costs associated with implementing the local designation system or to support teachers in obtaining designations. There will be fees associated with the designation system — districts will pay a fee for their application and a fee per teacher they designate — and currently there are fees for teachers to obtain National Board Certification. Once a district’s local designation system is approved, the district will receive a reimbursement for fees paid to the state. The state will also reimburse fees paid to earn a National Board Certification. TEA will offer more guidance on fee structures and reimbursements later this school year.
The LEA funding per designation is listed below. The exact dollar amount an LEA would receive for a designated teacher depends on the level of designation, whether the school at which the teacher works is rural, and the level of socio-economic need at the school. The TEA guidance referenced above provides step-by-step examples of how to calculate an allotment.
Recognized: $3,000 – $9,000
Exemplary: $6,000 – $18,000
Master: $12,000 – $32,000