School Finance Commission working group suggests key incentives to improve school performance

From the Quorum Report:

A working group of the Public School Finance Commission has suggested spending $1 billion in the first year – and up to $2.5 billion per year going forward – to incentivize and reward academic performance, especially around third-grade reading.

The expenditures are pinned to accelerating progress toward the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60×30 Plan, which suggests 60 percent of adults in Texas in should hold a certificate or degree by the year 2030.

Current projections of progress, however, suggest it could take an additional two decades to hit that goal at the pace of current academic gains.

Dallas Commit! CEO Todd Williams presented the work group findings, which focused on four strands of incentives:

  • funding every student that meets the third-grade reading benchmark;
  • providing incentives for eighth-grade students who hit reading and Algebra I standards;
  • additional funding for students that hit the college- and career-readiness mark at graduation;
  • underwriting multi-measure systems intended to improve teacher performance.

The incentives would support three outcomes: Students who are ready to learn. Teachers who are ready to teach. And graduates who are ready to earn.

The incentive amounts should be sufficient to provide school districts with the discretionary dollars to expand full-day pre-kindergarten; add dual-language programs; extend the school year; or add personalized learning pilots.

The incentives were intended to support the findings of education research: students who hit the third-grade reading benchmark were two to three times more likely to meet standards on the eighth-grade tests; those who failed to meet eighth-grade standards were 80 percent more likely to drop out of high school; Texas leaves $525 million in Pell grant funding untapped due to academic shortfalls; and the need to incentivize teachers to enter the profession continues to increase, with little incentive for teachers to tackle teaching in more challenging schools.

The Outcomes working group white paper can be found here. The full presentation from the working group is here.

*Republished with permission from the Quorum Report.