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#whyGT 87th Legislative Session Wrap Up

On May 31, the 87th Regular Session closed, leaving in its wake more than 1,000 enacted bills. As we look towards several special sessions this summer and fall, below is a summary of the session as it relates to G/T education and TAGT Policy Goals.
On May 31, the 87th Regular Session closed, leaving in its wake more than 1,000 enacted bills. As we look towards several special sessions this summer and fall, below is a summary of the session as it relates to G/T education and TAGT Policy Goals.

TAGT focuses its policy-related advocacy on goals that will strengthen programs, services, and funding for gifted and talented education. These goals address the current statewide decisions impacting public education in general, and especially those that relate to gifted and talented education.

Advocacy Goal: Restore Dedicated State Funding for G/T
TAGT supports the restoration of designated gifted & talented funding. The repeal of the G/T allotment represents a major step backward for students with unique gifts and who require a range of services.
 
87th Session Result: HB 1525 includes a new G/T allotment and was signed into law in June. This bill will be enacted September 1, 2021, and the allotment would go into effect for the 2021-2022 school year (in line with the Texas state budget).
Below is the bill's text related to allotment:
  • For each identified student a school district serves in a program for gifted and talented students that the district certifies to the commissioner as complying with Subchapter D, Chapter 29, a district is entitled to an annual allotment equal to the basic allotment multiplied by 0.07 for each school year or a greater amount provided by appropriation.
  • Funds allocated under this section, other than the amount that represents the program's share of general administrative costs, must be used in providing programs for gifted and talented students under Subchapter D, Chapter 29, including programs sanctioned by International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement, or in developing programs for gifted and talented students. Each district must account for the expenditure of state funds as provided by rule of the State Board of Education. If by the end of the 12th month after receiving an allotment for developing a program a district has failed to implement a program, the district must refund the amount of the allotment to the agency within 30 days.
  • Not more than five percent of a district's students in average daily attendance are eligible for funding under this section.
  • If the amount of state funds for which school districts are eligible under this section exceeds the amount of state funds appropriated in any year for the programs, the commissioner shall reduce each district's tier one allotments in the same manner described for a reduction in allotments under Section 48.266. 
Advocacy Goal: Ensure Compliance With State Plan  
Per HB 3, school districts must have a gifted program that is consistent with the state plan. The state plan is designed to ensure guidance to districts as they meet the diverse needs of the gifted/talented population in Texas. TAGT will work in partnership with TEA to support appropriate, appropriate, and timely regulatory efforts to ensure ISDs meet the spirit and stated language in HB3 and State Plan.
 
87th Result: Per HB 1525, districts still must certify to the commissioner that programs comply with Subchapter D, Chapter 29, TAGT is continuing to work with TEA to build a process for this certification.
 
Advocacy Goal: Maintain G/T Law in HB 3
TAGT supports protecting the G/T-specific sections of HB 3 that require ISDs to adopt a local policy, report G/T expenditures, and establish programs that are consistent with the state plan. These major changes ensure the level of services for our students and require more accountability from ISDs.
 
87th Result: In addition to creating the new G/T allotment, HB 1525 repealed TEC Section 29.124. This code, created in 2019 as part of House Bill 3, outlined district certification and reporting requirements in regards to spending related G/T programs and G/T program consistency with the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students.
 
TAGT is committed to working with TEA and the legislature in the interim to build an understanding of the effects of the repeal of TEC 29.124. In addition, TAGT will educate legislators about and advocate for the return of this code in the next session. TAGT will continue to communicate with our G/T stakeholders as we learn more.
 
Advocacy Goal: Support Accountability Measures That Recognize G/T Students
TAGT supports continued legislative efforts that measure and highlight post-secondary outcomes for gifted students in the A-F accountability system, including but not limited to early graduates, students taking accelerated courses beyond their grade level, students who skip a grade, and successful credit-by-examination passage.
 
87th Result: HB 1302 addressed the indicators of achievement in the school accountability system, recognizing districts and campuses for providing advanced coursework, Credit by Exam, single and full-grade acceleration, and project/problem-based learning opportunities.
 
TAGT advocates were engaged and imperative in the process of amending and seeing this bill pass in the House. HB 1302 was referred to the Senate Education Committee but did not move further in the upper chamber. This was incredible progress for indicators of achievement that related to advanced learners and TAGT was able to gain new support and champions as our stakeholders stewarded this bill through the house.
 
TAGT will continue to advocate for these measures in the 88th Regular Session and will build on the success of our advocates in the future.
 
Advocacy Goal: Ensuring Full School Funding
As G/T funding has been integrated into the Basic Allotment, TAGT supports efforts to ensure schools are funded at or above levels established in House Bill 3 and that funding laws consider mastery of learning objectives over instructional minutes. All forms of daily attendance should be funded including blended learning, virtual learning, traditional learning, alternative schedules, and any innovative learning environments.
 
87th Result: SB 1 fully funds the state's commitment to the public education investments made by HB 3 from last session. The bill also includes funding for projected enrollment growth during the 2022-23 biennium. There is a total of a 4.5% increase from last session. The new G/T allotment included in SB1 was contingent on the passage of HB 1525. Our school districts will have an additional $200M to use to further G/T. However, the legislature did not pass HB 1468 which would have allowed schools to create virtual instruction programs for students living within the district under certain conditions.
 
TAGT Advocacy Goals Unaffected by Legislative Session

Advocacy Goal: Encourage TEA to Collect, Disaggregate and Report Data About Gifted Education Programs

Advocacy Goal: Encourage TEA to include Gifted Education in Texas' ESSA State Compliance Plan

Read more about TAGT's Advocacy Goals.

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