The House Committee on Higher Education interim report to the 88th Legislature covers reviewing the impacts of investments on the PUF,  the 60x30TX plan, factors contributing to higher costs for higher education, and the state’s teacher workforce. For more information see the full report here.

Charge 1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature, including SB 1102 and SB 1295.

  • The Legislature should continue monitoring implementation of these measures and evaluate whether additional changes need to be made as they relate to funding.
  • The Legislature should identify appropriate metrics of performance as it relates to Senate Bill 1102, including best practices to be shared with other institutions

Charge 2. Review progress toward the goals of the 60x30TX plan, including institutional strategies for responding to changing workforce needs and demands, including workforce education, industry certification, and degree programs to address healthcare shortages.

  • The Legislature should support the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with its new plan that redefines the goals of 60x30TX to Building a Talent Strong Texas. The Commissioner should report to the legislature on the status of its progression towards its goals, and identify what other statistics and measures need to be taken into consideration to achieve this goal within the next seven years.
  • The Legislature should determine and address factors relating to students who graduate in the top 10% of their class that are not enrolling in institutions of higher education.
  • The Legislature should continue to focus on strengthening the talent pipeline from K12, higher education, and beyond. Implementation of the Tri-Agency Workforce initiative would be an effective tool in this regard

Charge 3. Examine factors that have contributed to the rising costs of higher education, including the effect of statutory tuition and fee waivers and exemptions, the cost of compliance with state and federal mandates, and the increase in the number of non-faculty staff. Make recommendations for controlling these costs and ensuring a sound fiscal approach to managing college affordability for the future.

  • The Legislature should study factors driving rising costs of higher education and determine, what actions can be taken to reduce these costs and/or slow the rate of increase.
  • The Legislature should monitor the implementation of the Texas Transfer Grant Pilot Program and the Texas Leadership Scholars Program and determine the need for additional funding.
  • The Legislature should assess the costs of the Hazlewood Legacy Program and weigh its benefits against their negative and uneven effects on tuition and determine the need for additional funding from the state to offset the costs to the institution.
  • The Legislature should consider the need for state based financial aid to be expanded to microcredentials, reskilling and upskilling, and online competency-based education programs.
  • The Legislature should consider adopting legislation based on the findings from the Texas Commission on Community College Finance.

Charge 4. Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Explore the impact of the educator preparation program regulatory environment. Make recommendations to improve educator recruitment, retention, and preparation throughout the state. (Joint Charge with Committee on Public Education).

  • Reduce financial barriers to high quality educator training and completion of teacher credential exams.
  • Direct TEA in consultation with SBEC, and THECB to establish and incentivize articulated pathways from K-12 institutions, community colleges, and four-year institutions to shorten time to degree and certification through stackable credentials and required transfer degrees for teacher candidates.
  • Create a website for educator preparation programs and detailed educator preparation program information to provide more transparency around practices and outcomes of different educator preparation programs.
  • Incentivize development and enhancement of innovative partnerships to strengthen the educator pipeline and increase degree completion.
  • Appropriate funding for the cost of certification testing fees for new teachers, especially those obtaining high-need certifications for a certain period.
  • Invest in teacher salaries and compensation.
  • Amend the Teacher Incentive Allotment qualifications to recognize that National Board certified teachers are designated as exemplary.
  • Increase the state’s contribution to employee health insurance and require schools to maintain a matching local contribution per month.
  • Provide a supplemental financial support for retired teachers.
  • Increase the support for the Mentor Program allotment, while maintaining a rigorous bar for mentor-teacher qualifications.
  • Appropriate funding for behavior interventionist to provide teachers with additional support in the classroom to address student discipline issues.

Charge 5. Review the impact of investments of endowment and other trust funds, including the Permanent University Fund, by university systems and institutions of higher education in businesses and funds owned or controlled by the Russian government or Russian nationals, and determine the need for investment restrictions. Consider the impact of any proposed investment restrictions on fund performance.

  • The Legislature should consider measures that require entities investing state funds to report periodically to legislature all direct and indirect exposure to Russian investments, along with divestment activity.