LA JOYA, Texas (KVEO) — Amid the Coronavirus pandemic and remote learning there is some good news for teachers in the Rio Grande Valley and across the state.

Teachers with some school districts can now earn six-figure salaries through the Teacher Incentive Allotment Program.

The program was established during the last legislative session under House Bill 3. The program is in its first year and statewide there are 26 districts participating, including three RGV schools.

Brownsville ISD, San Perlita ISD, and La Joya ISD are the three schools participating in the program.

TEA says the program allows districts to create a plan to identify their most effective teachers, providing them with a pathway to make six-figure salaries.

The program also allows districts to improve the recruitment and retention process.

TEA officials say the program also addresses three challenges facing the teaching profession. Those challenges include keeping effective teachers in the classroom, potentially recruit and retain great teachers, and can ensure that all students have access to effective teachers. Officials say this is particularly important in rural campuses where recruiting can be even more of a challenge.

Officials also say many good teachers leave the classroom largely due to the pay. The agency also points to a 2018 study where college students were asked why they didn’t go into the teaching profession. The top three reasons were, pay, access to professional development and school culture and climate.

TEA officials say the program could potentially fix the number one factor which is pay, so they are hoping to see strong candidates, and more candidates coming into the teaching profession.

“Districts have been sharing the results of this designation. We’ve had districts send us pictures and videos. You see teachers literally saying things like, I couldn’t stay in the classroom if not for this. I would have to leave because I just need to make more money,” says Grace Wu, Director of Strategic Compensation, Texas Education Agency.

For a district to participate the TEA says they must demonstrate they have a valid and reliable system on measuring teacher effectiveness. The district must also include stakeholder input. Teachers must understand and agree on how they are being measured, and how funds are distributed.

TEA must approve the system, and after the district gathers teacher data, it is sent to Texas Tech. There the data is verified and compared to other state’s data. The TEA will then give final approval of teachers who are admitted into the program.

Officials also say the program is largely based on readiness, that is why only three districts in the Valley are participating because as districts are trying to get it right not first.

TEA says the response has been overwhelming and heartwarming, even bringing some teachers to tears.

“This one video that I’ve watched today, she broke down in tears, and then all her students were like how did you get this. Her response was it’s because of all of you, it’s your student growth that helped me get here. It’s been great to see the impact on the individual teachers and districts,” says Wu.