Lesson plans

What can your district require you to prepare?

If there is one thing that teachers know, it is lesson plans. Over the years, public school teachers have seen lesson plans evolve from a project mostly left up to an individual teacher to a project for which districts or campuses have specific formats and require specific information—sometimes large amounts of specific information.

To a great extent, it is up to each district to locally determine how specific lesson plan requirements will be. As long as campus requirements do not conflict with district requirements, it is also common for individual principals to have a great deal of control over the requirements on their campus.

The Texas Legislature has addressed what a district and principal can require. Section 11.164 of the Texas Education Code, commonly referred to as the Paperwork Reduction Act, states that a teacher can only be required to prepare:
A unit or weekly lesson plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented during each period at the secondary level or in each subject or topic at the elementary level.
Although this text might appear to prohibit a district or principal from requiring the great amount of detail often required (such as a listing of specific TEKS objectives covered or the specific modifications planned and implemented), an opinion by the commissioner of education has effectively eliminated nearly all restrictions on what a district can require. Due to this opinion, the decision as to what a teacher can be required to include in a lesson plan is, to a very great extent, effectively a local one.

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