Creating systemic impact for students requires work beyond Dallas County. The Commit Partnership has a team of in-house staff dedicated to advocating for student-focused public policy on local school boards and throughout the state, including inside the Texas Capitol.
The Commit Partnership, with the help of Early Matters partners in Dallas, Austin, and Houston, is working to enact system change through state-level public policy. We seek to increase awareness of the importance of early childhood education and expand access to high-quality early learning environments for all Texas students in pursuit of ensuring that 80% of students are school-ready on the first day of Kindergarten and 60% of third graders are meeting grade-level reading expectations.
Early Education Priorities
This session, Commit is advocating for various bills that support quality early childhood education:
- Funding Full-Day Pre-K and Early Literacy Interventions through School Finance Reform
High-quality early education opportunities are critical to long-term student success. The quality of a young child’s education culminates in a critical benchmark - the ability to read by the end of 3rd grade. After this point, reading becomes critical to success in every grade level and subject area, as students no longer learn to read, but read to learn. Quality early education and literacy are focuses of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance’s recommendations. including:
- Setting a statewide goal that 60% of public school students should meet grade level literacy expectations by the end of 3rd grade,
- Providing school districts with $780 million in annual funding through an additional weight for every economically disadvantaged and/or English language learning student, and
- Providing $400 million a year in outcomes-based funding for every student meeting standard on the 3rd grade reading STAAR, equitably weighted so low-income students receive approximately 2.3x the amount for meeting standard as their non-low-income peers.
- Training for School Personnel on Trauma and Toxic Stress Informed Practices
Texas students are at great risk of experiencing trauma and toxic stressors. Whether from natural disasters, troubling events, or the everyday stress of poverty that 60% of Texas students endure, too many students experience trauma that causes mental health and behavioral challenges, hampering their academic success.
Evidence shows trauma-informed instructional practices can improve outcomes among students who are experiencing or have experienced trauma and toxic stress. Despite the critical importance of trauma-informed practices, Texas is one of just four states in the country to not require pre-certification training in such practices for school teachers.
Commit is supporting House Bill 1069, a comprehensive student mental health bill, by Chairman Four Price The legislation will, in part:
- Require school district improvement plans to integrate best practices for trauma-informed care through positive behavior interventions and supports
- Include evidence-based training on trauma- and grief-informed strategies as part of teacher, principal, and counselor continuing professional education requirements at least once every five years
- Help school personnel recognize the signs of trauma and toxic stress, including how trauma affects student learning and behavior
- Require pre-certification training in mental health for teachers
- Increase access to mental health resources for students and families through referrals to community providers