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Texas Education Agency commissioner resigns

Friday, October 16, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams, who has headed the agency since 2012, resigned from his position Thursday morning in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott. His resignation will be effective Jan. 1. In his letter, Williams cited a long-distance relationship with his wife as one of the reasons for his resignation. “After more than 16 years of weekend commuting,” he wrote, “I feel it is finally time to simply head home.” Williams’ resignation comes in the middle of Texas’ back-and-forth with the federal government over compliance issues with the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. On Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Education gave Texas and 42 other states flexibility in regard to the law’s requirements. But the education department also gave Texas a “high-risk status” because the TEA’s school grading system does not include a mandatory teacher evaluation that is tied to students’ standardized test scores. While the state did begin implementing a new teacher and principal evaluation system this year, it is not mandatory. The state has until Jan. 15, 2016, to tell the federal government how it plans to adopt the missing standard by the next school year. If it fails to do so, Texas could face losing substantial federal education funding. DeEtta Culbertson, TEA spokesperson, said the agency recently filed an appeal with the education department requesting that the state’s high-risk status be changed.

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