Q&A with the auditor

Webinar: Q&A with the Auditor

Joined by – Manager of Student Attendance (TEA)

This ~2 hour session reviewed the current guidance established by the Texas Education Agency regarding attendance expectations for remote learners. Over 400 PEIMS professionals from around the state were joined by TEA’s Manager of student attendance. Together we reviewed TEA’s attendance and enrollment FAQ document for guidance which addressed a series of questions submitted to TEA in advance of this session. The last segment we were able to capture some responses to additional questions and points of clarification as brought from the attendees. In all, over 100 questions were collected. They were combined and summarized to TEA to attempt to address as many areas of concern as possible. While not all questions were able to be responded to directly, and not in writing, this webinar points us in the direction we need to correctly access necessary information. The webinar has been broken into chapters for the various topics discussed. 

Geoff’s Notes:

  1. COVID-19 Resources on TEA Website
    1. https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/covid/coronavirus-covid-19-support-and-guidance
  2. 2020-2021 SAAH (Proposed) is released. Does not address remote instruction.
  3. Understand that most of the existing rules regarding attendance procedures (specifically for on-campus and program based attendance) remain in effect. The additional guidelines are strictly to address students being served in a remote learning environment as defined in the FAQ document, but does not replace existing rules in the SAAH.
  4. Attendance & Enrollment FAQ document posted on TEA’s COVID website is the legal guidance for attendance procedures, and documentation requirements for remote learners.
    1. Currently 34 pages long as of Sept 9, 2020.
    2. https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/covid/SY-2020-21-Attendance-and-Enrollment.pdf
    3. If you have questions, check this document first. “Chances are good your question is addressed in this document already.” “Control F Find is your Friend…”
  5. Every Thursday updated around 2-3PM weekly. Check the document weekly. Districts are responsible for knowing these changes. Updated with “NEW” yellow box and red font with any added information.
  6. FAQ document exists because under current law, attendance (and procedures) are based on students being physically present at official attendance taking time. These alternative ‘methods’ established to offer districts an opportunity to be funded for students not physically present but still able to participate in the educational process.
  7. Asynchronous instruction is the more widely implemented model across the state and affords districts a large amount of local flexibility. Processes and procedures need to be detailed in the ‘approved’ learning plan. 
  8. Asynchronous learning plans may include synchronous components.
  9. Asynchronous learning plans should be first submitted to TEA by October 1st for review and feedback. Plans must be approved formally prior to start of 2nd semester to continue using Remote-Asynchronous attendance code.
  10. Be involved in plan development where possible. At minimum, review your district’s plan for minimum components and that it defines adequate documentation of engagement. 
  11. District should create a new attendance procedures manual to reflect changes due to remote learners as well as incorporate the documentation of engagement requirements.
  12. Interaction between a student & teacher cannot be substituted with an interaction between a parent & teacher for any age with few exceptions.
  13. Daily on-campus time with students (offering instructional supports and students) drives the operational minutes. 
  14. Closures due to COVID in compliance with the closure section of FAQ can count operational minutes like a normal operational day.
  15. Verify minutes of operation closely, especially if running a “hybrid’ schedule in grades 9-12 or have elected to only provide remote instruction 1 day a week (ex. Fridays). Need to ensure on-campus activity equals 75,600 minutes.
  16. There is no requirement that Remote-Asynchronous attendance codes be posted the same day. Example: a report could be pulled weekly from LMS and office could go back and correct/update student attendance with that supporting documentation (if that is how defined in learning plan) (1:03 in video)
  17. Audit will review district learning plan for definition of how district will measure “engagement” for use of the Remote attendance codes. Should reflect “daily progress”
  18. On-campus and Remote-Synchronous attendance still expected to be posted by teachers at official attendance time (1:04).
  19. Tracking of attendance for course credit may differ from the method used to track attendance for funding purposes. More specifically, engagement, as defined for asynchronous remote attendance purposes, would not need to be recorded daily in each class for the purposes of 90/10 minimum student attendance for class credit rule.
  20. ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM JUSTIN: Clarifying a question & answer from the webinar, for on-campus instruction and remote synchronous instruction, students MUST be present (or virtually present) at the official attendance time in order to be counted present. Students who are absent at that time should be considered absent for the day (in the absence of any asynchronous engagement using an approved method that same day) even if the student comes back to school or logs in synchronously at another time. This rule has not changed, student attendance at the official attendance time determines funding for these settings.