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Senate Interim Committee on Education

Charge

Review the role of the Texas Legislature, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the university systems in making changes in the governance structure of universities and implementing academic/research programs.
Recommendations

POWERS AND DUTIES OF THECB

  • Develop a geographic-based master plan for higher education that identifies the role of each institution and ensures access to higher education through distance learning and telecommunications. In addition, review, within the context of the statewide master plan, the effectiveness of THECB's authority to review course offerings; approve new departments, schools, and degrees at universities; and approve real-estate purchases and construction projects at public higher education institutions.

  • Submit a report in cooperation with the Legislative Budget Board concerning the impact of any proposed new professional school, public institution of higher education, or additional campus.

  • Create outcome measures for higher education based on student performance on a nationally normed "rising junior" test, graduate school entrance examinations, and professional licensing tests.

  • Assign national or state "peer institutions" to each Texas public higher education institution to serve as benchmarks for performance and outcome measures, faculty salaries, and other productivity information.

  • Eliminate THECB's authority to restrict distance learning courses.

  • Limit THECB's formula funding recommendations to funding for technical programs at community colleges, Lamar-Orange and Lamar-Port Arthur, and the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) System. THECB would implement the two-year academic and university funding mechanisms established by the legislature and provide recommendations every five years for legislative amendments to the formula.

    POWERS AND DUTIES OF UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS

  • Review the quality of libraries and all degree programs at component institutions to ensure that the libraries and access to libraries support the programs at each institution.

  • Establish a faculty evaluation policy that includes annual review of faculty performance, including tenured faculty based on peer and student evaluations. Below-standard evaluations for two consecutive years would provide cause for tenure revocation or dismissal.

    Charge

    Monitor the implementation of Senate Bill 1, 74th Legislative Session, with emphasis on the relationship established between the education and juvenile justice communities; the change in relationship between the state and independent school districts; the implementation of home-rule school districts, and campus and program charter provisions; and the Legislative Budget Board studies on school funding special allotments and program weights.
    Recommendations

    SUGGESTED S.B. 1 REVISIONS

  • Clarify language requiring all expelled students to be provided educational services by the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program.

  • Delegate specific responsibilities to and specify funding obligations for school districts, local county officials, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, and the Texas Youth Commission regarding services required to be provided to expelled students.

  • Include in the statute additional procedures to be used prior to removal of a student to an Alternative Education Program in order to comply with constitutional due process rights of a student.

  • Clarify the responsibilities of school districts and county officials for disabled students eligible for special education services and for students eligible for protection under Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

  • Clarify textbook adoption provisions to clearly define the State Board of Education's role in textbook adoptions, including whether the board has authority to reject textbooks based on content.

  • Amend language to clarify school district transportation requirements, particularly those authorizing school districts to transport 10 or fewer students on state-funded bus routes using passenger cars.

  • Revise state restrictions regarding school district purchasing procedures to better explain the amount of discretion a school district may exhibit in this area.

  • Clarify enrollment provisions in an attempt to specify who is legally eligible to enroll a student in Texas public schools.

    Charge

    Review the affordability of higher education in Texas in light of potential cutbacks in federal student assistance, increases in tuition and student services fees, and recent state-funded student assistance measures.
    Recommendation

  • Seek ways to increase spending on student financial assistance should federal student financial assistance be reduced.

    Charge

    Study higher education financial issues related to projected increases in enrollment; faculty and administrator salaries; and support for research into emerging technologies and for medical schools.
    Recommendations

    FACULTY SALARIES

  • Meet the 10 most populous states' average faculty salaries over the next three biennia.

    STATE FUNDING FOR PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

  • Simplify the funding formulas.

  • Implement an undergraduate instructional formula that provides increased funding for courses taught by tenured or tenure-track professors.

  • Eliminate factors in the facilities maintenance and operation formula that encourage new construction.

  • Provide "excellence" funding through a formula for special activities and startup costs for new programs and courses.

    TUITION, FEES, AND GRANT SET-ASIDES

  • Authorize governing boards of university systems to set undergraduate tuition rates for member institutions based on minimum rates set by law.

  • Eliminate the general-purpose building fee charged to students by including it in tuition and increase the percentage of Texas Public Education Grant program funds set-aside at universities from additional tuition revenue generated by tuition rates exceeding the minimum state rate.

    Charge

    Review educational services and training provided to non-college bound students, and make recommendations on the appropriate educational institutions to ensure that these students acquire employment skills.
    Recommendation

  • The committee did not make any formal recommendations relating to this charge.Charge

    Study the appropriate role of and relationships between the levels of education in Texas. Such relationships include elementary/secondary education and higher education, and two-year and four-year institutions.
    Recommendations

    MISSION, COURSE OFFERINGS, OPERATIONS, AND FUNDING OF TSTC

  • Narrow TSTC's role and mission to offering advanced and emerging, highly specialized, cost-intensive technology programs as defined by THECB and implement a new funding formula based on these programs.

  • Require remedial education to be provided by a local or service region community college, under contract with TSTC, at the TSTC campus at no additional cost to the student.

  • Eliminate all TSTC authority to establish extension centers and programs.

  • Designate the Marshall Extension Center as a TSTC campus.

  • Authorize the TSTC extension centers at Abilene and Brownwood and the extension program at Breckenridge to merge with a service region community college.

    TASP TESTING AND REMEDIAL INSTRUCTION

  • Require high schools to release information to the newspaper of local circulation if the school had five or more students needing remedial assistance at a higher education institution.

  • Create an optional "college bound" portion of the TAAS test, which students may take for exemption from the TASP.

    CORE CURRICULUM AND THE TRANSFER OF CREDIT HOURS AMONG

    HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

  • Mandate the block transfer of at least 45 hours of general education core courses from a community college to a Texas public university or community colleges and state universities.

    PUBLIC SCHOOL/UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS

  • Increase funding to the Texas Tuition Assistance Grant Program to provide $1,000 per year college scholarships to high school graduates meeting certain academic and socioeconomic requirements.

  • Provide funding to colleges and universities to host summer academic institutes for high school students.