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Texas House Legislators Abandon Statewide Merit Pay Effort for Teachers

A Texas House committee on Tuesday abandoned a controversial effort to pay teachers based on their performance. 

The idea, backed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in his State of the State speech, was billed as an effort to boost stagnant achievement in the state and modeled after a plan rolled out in Dallas several years ago. But many district superintendents saw it as a violation of local control, and teachers saw it as something that would result in teaching to the test. 

"The rejection of merit pay sends an important signal that educator salaries should not be tied to standardized tests never intended for that purpose." Louis Malfaro, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. 

Instead, the House education committee is proposing to allow district superintendents to spend the $140 million to provide incentives for teachers to work at low-income schools. 

The state's Senate, meanwhile, has passed a proposal to boost teacher pay by $5,000, a bill that would cost the state more than $3.9 billion over the next two years.

Texas' legislature is in the thick of attempting to rewrite its state's funding formula. The state's Republicans have promised to lower property taxes while also increasing the amount of money going to low-income schools. 

One idea being considered by the Senate is providing more money for school districts that perform well on the state's accountability system. 

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