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Great Public Schools Criteria for Texas

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Texas.

Readiness to Learn


Full-day Kindergarten:

According to a study by NIEER, Texas' Public School Initiative was established in 1988 and provides half-day preschool primarily for four-year-olds from low-income families. Children qualify for the program if they are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, unable to speak and understand the English language, or homeless. Public School Prekindergarten programs are part of the K-12 system, and are thus supported by a combination of state and local funds. Individual school districts are responsible for operating prekindergarten programs but are encouraged to consider using Head Start or local child care providers as program sites. All districts with 15 or more eligible children who are at least four years old are required to offer the prekindergarten program. Although not required, full-day programs and access for three-year-olds are provided in some locations with the use of additional district and state funding.

Annual grants that have allowed some districts to provide full-day services have been reduced by the Legislature for the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 schools years from $100 million to $92.5 million. These expansion grants are awarded on a competitive basis, with priority going to districts with low third-grade reading scores. (NIEER)

The Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition (TECEC) was created out of interest from a set of meetings hosted by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in the spring and summer of 2002. Participants from 23 organizations were in attendance and identified their overarching goal as working to ensure access to quality early childhood education for all children in Texas.

At the same time, Children's Defense Fund, along with 27 groups organized a statewide conference called "Child Care: Because We All Do!" on October 23, 2002, in order to capture the local needs and priorities for quality early childhood education programs in Texas and to further investigate potential support for a statewide Coalition. In January 2003, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health awarded a grant to Children's Defense Fund Texas to house TECEC in order to develop a statewide Coalition with a mission of building a system of quality early care and education that prepares children in Texas for success in their education and life.

In the summer of 2003, TECEC developed a formal partnership with the Texas Program for Society and Health in order to create a long-term public policy agenda to improve early childhood education and development in Texas to ensure that every child entering kindergarten is well prepared for school. Preliminary policy recommendations for The Texas Plan were developed over a six-month period through the work of many early childhood, education, and health professionals; elected officials; and community and business leaders throughout the state and were unveiled at a statewide summit at Rice University in January 2004.

During the 78th Legislative Session, TECEC played a critical role in the passage and implementation of Senate Bill 76, which represents a significant first step towards integration of Pre-Kindergarten, Head Start, and Child Care through community partnerships in the state of Texas. Currently, the Coalition is represented on committees to guide implementation. Texas Senate Bill 76 seeks to provide voluntary full-day, full-year care to Texas parents whenever possible.

Senate Bill 76, authored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, represents a significant first step towards the coordination of pre-kindergarten, Head Start and child-care in the state of Texas. In the midst of severe budget shortfalls and difficult cuts to social services, SB 76 is a bipartisan, revenue-neutral solution designed to increase efficiency and simplify access. The bill creates more flexibility for service providers to innovate with new and existing programs, as well as develop a model for quality of service to guide the success of these efforts. While allowing for room to experiment, it provides a clear path for integrating early education with childcare to ensure that resources are used efficiently to support Texas families.

The bill includes several areas of action to assist providers in coordinating services and to create a foundation for further legislation next session. SB 76 requires that school districts considering the creation of a pre-kindergarten program to examine co-locating with an existing Head Start or childcare program in the area. It empowers the Commissioner of Education to provide for coordinating programs including the waiver of rules to ensure the greatest flexibility available under federal law and the creation of model program standards for early childhood care and education.

Programs will also be required to coordinate with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and local workforce development boards regarding subsidized childcare services. In particular, this coordination will require that childcare providers supply parents with information on the childcare and early education resources in the community including referral agencies, pre-kindergarten programs and Head Start opportunities. The intent of coordination will be to ensure that parents are able to take full advantage of available services and that full-day, full-year childcare and early education is available to low-income parents whenever possible.

Senate Bill 76 also takes concrete action towards the development of standards to evaluate the effectiveness of childcare and early education programs in considering the most efficient use of tax dollars. The bill requires the relevant state and local officials to consider the quality of services as the basis for contract decisions and sets out an inclusive set of criteria to be used at the local level as groundwork for a future statewide model of quality service. The State Center for Early Childhood Development, in conjunction with stakeholders, is charged with developing a quality rating system demonstration project as a basis for future replication at the state level. Service providers are also encouraged to initiate demonstration projects on the potential for coordinating resources and programs on the local level.

Finally, the Director of the State Center for Early Childhood Development is charged with appointing an advisory committee to evaluate the feasibility of coordinating childcare programs and early education programs. This committee, composed of state and local officials, providers and parents will prepare a report for the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislature by September 2004 outlining the potentials for childcare coordination and the efficient use of resources. (TECEC)

Quality Conditions


Class Size. Legal Basis: 1. TEX. EDUC. CODE ANN. § 25.112. Enacted 1984.
                    2. TEX. EDUC. CODE ANN. § 25.111. Enacted 1995.
                    3. TEX. EDUC. CODE ANN. § 25.113. Enacted 2001.

These statures provide that school districts may not enroll more than 22 students in K-4 classes. And, as explicitly provided in TEX. EDUC. CODE ANN. § 25.112, a ratio of not less than one teacher to each 20 students in average daily attendance (K-4). Likewise, a campus or district that is granted an exception from class size limits must provide written notice to parents or guardians.

Current Average Elementary School Class Size: 18.5

Accountability


Statute:
Tex. Educ. Code § 39.071 – § 39.076, § 39.091 –
§ 39.096, § 39.111 – § 39.112, § 39.131

Texas rewards and also sanctions districts on the basis of performance. Rewards for districts are non-monetary and are for absolute performance. State sanctions on districts include the requirement that either the district or another entity create and implement a plan for improvement, placement on probation, loss of accreditation, or the district being reorganized or taken over by the state.

Texas rewards and also sanctions schools on the basis of performance.  Rewards for schools are both monetary (bonuses) and non-monetary for absolute and improved performance. State sanctions of districts include the requirement that either the school or another entity create and implement a plan for improvement, the school being placed on probation, loss of accreditation, reconstitution, closure, or take-over by the state.

For schools in Texas there is a progressive sanction that works as follows:

This policy was enacted as part of the state accountability system that was in place prior to the enactment of NCLB and appears to be unrelated to NCLB's AYP timeline. [39.132]