Texas Education Agency releases draft strategic plan to improve state's special education system

The Texas Education Agency released a comprehensive draft strategic plan Monday evening in response to a Jan. 11 report in which the U.S. Department of Education found the TEA failed to ensure all special education students in the state were given access to appropriate services.

According to the federal report, the TEA failed to identify, locate and evaluate children with disabilities and to monitor school districts to ensure they met requirements laid out in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The heart of the violation can be tied to an 8.5 percent indicator set in 2004 as a general target for the number of students in a school district that should have received special education services. Although TEA officials said the number was not an enforced requirement, the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs found it caused some school districts to take actions intended to decrease the percentage to 8.5 percent or lower. The indicator was eliminated in 2016.

“The purpose of special education is to provide sufficient support to our students with disabilities on an individualized basis so that they can obtain the same level of academic success typical of their peers,” TEA officials stated in the draft strategic plan’s executive summary. “Working together, we will significantly improve outcomes for our special education students.”

According to the TEA, about 8.8 percent of all Texas students—a number that has continued to decrease over the last 15 years—receive special education services, compared to the national average of 13 percent. While 75 percent of all Texas students are approaching grade level in reading and math, only 41 percent of the state’s special education students are attaining the same standards.

The TEA made outreach efforts to draft the strategic plan, including direct interaction with special education students, families, educators, advocacy groups and school district officials, according to the TEA.

Prior to releasing this plan, the TEA drafted an initial corrective action response under the orders of Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 18, which addressed the issues identified in the federal monitoring report. Initial plans included providing resources to parents, implementing a statewide special education professional development system and strengthening resources allocated to special education to increase on-site support.

The TEA cannot use funds out of those appropriated by the state and federal governments, so the strategic plan was designed based on existing budgets. Action steps laid out in the plan include:

  • Increasing evaluation capacity to ensure the availability of bilingual evaluators, educational diagnosticians and school psychologists

  • Executing a statewide professional development system for all educators

  • Strengthening the existing call center, providing access to state-funded experts and support resources

  • Improving dyslexia-specific support services

  • Creating documents to help stakeholders understand the school finance system regarding special education

  • Continuing a collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission to determine partnerships related to workforce preparation and readiness

To read the full draft strategic plan, visit www.tea.texas.gov/texassped. The updated draft is available for review and public comment through April 18. Comments regarding the strategic plan can be submitted by email at texassped@tea.texas.gov. The final corrective action plan is scheduled to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in April.


New Braunfels City Council and the New Braunfels Economic Development Corp. are working to bring an automotive plant to New Braunfels. (Courtesy Fotolia)
City Council approves economic package to help bring automotive plant to New Braunfels

The project is expected to create more than 500 jobs by 2031.

Michael Wehman, New Braunfels Assistant Fire Chief
New Braunfels Fire Department selects new assistant fire chief

Michael Wehman is a 28-year fire service veteran who most recently served as NBFD battalion chief.

Common winter allergies in Texas are caused by pollen from the Ashe juniper—also known as a mountain cedar. The tree is native to the area. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
As pollen counts rise in Central Texas, learn about cedar fever and allergy prevention

As temperatures cool heading into the winter season in Central Texas, pollen counts from Ashe juniper trees begin to climb, causing seasonal allergies referred to locally by residents as “cedar fever.”

The deadline to file for the March 2020 primary in Comal and Guadalupe counties is Dec. 9. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Comal County, Guadalupe County candidates meet Dec. 9 deadline to file for 2020 primary

A long list of candidates will be vying for elected positions in the 2020 election. The deadline to file for the March 3, 2020 primary election is Dec. 9.

The Comal County courthouse is lit up in downtown New Braunfels for the holiday season. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Comal County announces holiday closures

Comal County residents should be aware that the holiday season may affect operation hours at various county offices. In observance of the Christmas and New Year's holidays, these Comal County offices will be closed or have adjusted hours:

A Subway restaurant is coming soon to The Shops at Clear Springs in New Braunfels.
Subway restaurant coming soon to The Shops at Clear Springs in New Braunfels

The restaurant will offer customizable submarine sandwiches and more.

Jeremy Alkire, a senior at New Braunfels High School, has been named a 2019 National Merit Commended Student. (Courtesy NBISD)
New Braunfels High School student named National Merit Commended Scholar

NBHS senior Jeremy Alkire is the only Unicorn to be honored in this year.

Local businesses submitted their wassail recipes for judging at the 2019 annual Wassailfest. (Courtesey Sidecar)
New Braunfels Wassail Meister winners announced

Keller Williams Heritage won first place in the 2019 competition.

The first ever Director of Safety and Security for New Braunfels ISD, Jay Huffty. (Courtesy New Braunfels ISD)
New Braunfels ISD hires first director of safety and security

Huffty previously worked as an administrator for San Marcos CISD.

new braunfels city hall front entrance
New Braunfels solid waste division to host bulky goods drop-off

The city’s solid waste and recycling division will accept residential customers' goods from 7-11 a.m. Dec. 7.

Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke was named 2020 Texan of the Year by the Texas Legislative Conference. (Courtesy New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce)
Apollo 16 astronaut and Brigadier General Charles Duke named 2020 Texan of the Year

A local resident, Duke will be honored March 26 at the New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center.

Rustic Trader is expected to close by the end of December. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rustic Trader set to close in New Braunfels

The business will close its doors by Dec. 31.

Back to top