LAC News

More than 100 education related bills were passed during the 2013 legislative session. Key bill is HB5, which changes graduation requirements.

State Board of Education must now approve rules and will make their ruling at their January 29-31 meeting. SBOE heard testimony on September 17 to inform its rule making on the new diploma. There were 54 testifiers at those hearings. Texas Education Agency staff is now crafting a proposed ruling based on those testifiers.

SBOE will consider this draft rule at its November 20-22 meeting in Austin. If the rule receives preliminary approval, it will be posted in the Texas Register. There will be a 30-day public comment period. Comments during this time may be submitted to rules@tea.state.tx.us.

HB5

·      Passed in session and will take affect 2014-2015

·      Reduced state assessment tests at the high school level

·      Changed the accountability system for schools

·      Overhauled high school graduation requirements (known as 4x4).

Existing Graduation Program in Effect Through 2016-2017

School districts will continue to offer the three existing graduation programs – the Distinguished Achievement Program, the Recommended High School Program and the Minimum High School Program - through at least the 2016-2017 school year for this year’s Freshman class.

However, students who will be sophomores, juniors or seniors during the 2014-2015 school year and are currently following one of the three existing programs will have the option of switching to the Foundation program when it becomes available in the 2014-2015 school year.

HB5 improves education in three important ways (why it requirements were revamped):

·      Gives students more flexibility to explore their individual interests as they prepare for higher education and the workforce

·      Reduces the burden of state tests that play too large a role in our education system

·      Provides new measures to make our schools more accountable.

Specifics

·      Reduces the number of end-of-course assessments from 15 to 5: English 1 (reading and writing together) English II (reading and writing), Algebra I, Biology, and U.S. History. LISD can decide to administer the Algebra II EOC to eligible students. If they choose to administer the Algebra II EOC, ALL eligible students must take it, not just those that want to. Results will not count toward a school’s accountability rating.

·      Creates one diploma that gives all students a variety of opportunities after high school. Students could earn endorsements in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Business and Industry, Public Service, Arts and Humanities or multi-disciplinary studies after passing challenging courses customized to those areas.

Foundation School Program – the new “one” diploma

Foundation School Program (22 credits) replaces the options we know about today (again, these are Recommended High School Program, Minimum High School Program, and Distinguished Achievement Program). In addition to completing the 22 credits, students must choose one endorsement. Students whose parents sign a form can opt to graduate with only the Foundation diploma and they will still be eligible for four-year college admission.

Foundation School Diploma requires:

·      4 credits in English language arts (English I, II, III, and an advanced ELA)

·      3 credits in math (Algebra I, geometry, and an advanced math credit)

·      3 credits in science (Biology, IPC or an advanced science credit, and another advanced science credit)

·      3 credits in social studies (U.S. History, .5 economics, .5 government, and either world history or world geography, or a new course combining world history and world geography)

·      2 credits in languages other than English (computer programming languages may substitute per SBOE rule, and other flexibility for 2nd LOTE (Languages Other Than English) credit for students who due to disability are unlikely to complete two courses in the same language)

·      1 credit in fine arts (can be community – based program with appropriate TEKS coverage)

·      1 credit in PE (including approved off – campus programs)

·      5 credits in electives (may include CTE (Career & Tech Education) or certification courses)

Endorsement

Endorsements, the specific curriculum requirements that are still being determined, include

·      STEM,

·      Business and Industry,

·      Public Services,

·      Arts and Humanities, and

·      Multidisciplinary Studies.

Students who graduate with Foundation + distinguished achievement are eligible for Top 10% automatic admission consideration. The Distinguished endorsement will require:

·      4 math credits, including Algebra II,

·      4 credits in science,

·      remaining requirements in the Foundation Program, and

·      at least one endorsement

Accountability

School districts will receive ratings of A‐F and campuses will continue to receive exemplary, recognized, acceptable, and unacceptable ratings. The accountability system will consider parent/community and student engagement in evaluating campuses and school districts, and will rate campuses and school districts on their financial health, in addition to academics.

Texas PTA’s Stance

§ Maintain strict fidelity to a timeline that finalizes all decisions regarding course requirements by January 2014. This is critical for students so that they can make course selections for the fall of 2014.

§ Do not attempt to recreate the 4X4 graduation program within the new Foundation Diploma and endorsements. Citizens and legislators were clear that a change is needed so that students have more than one path to post high school. Students must have relevant, real choices in the courses they will take. Students must have options and a variety of paths to achieve their goals.

§ Keep in mind that smaller districts will be strained to offer a variety of courses so we support identifying chemistry, physics, and calculus as advanced, but ask that SBOE identify non-traditional classes to include as well.

§ Do not require Algebra II as the only advanced math course option for the Foundation Diploma, or as a requirement for all endorsements. The legislature did not intend, nor do parents and students want, a one-size-fits-all program.

Who’s the State Board of Education Anyway?

The State Board of Education (SBOE) is an elected body of 15 that adopts rules and establishes policies that govern a wide range of educational programs and services provided by Texas public schools. Major duties include:

§ Overseeing the investment of the Permanent School Fund which help funds public schools;

§ Mandating what Texas students are taught and what classroom teachers must teach through the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills;

§ Selecting textbooks and instructional materials from which Texas school districts chose;

§ Veto power over the TEA Commissioner approved new charter schools 

Our Legislators

SBOE District 10 – Tom Maynard

Texas State Senator District 14 – Senator Kirk Watson

Texas State Rep District 47 – Representative Paul Workman

US Rep for Texas – District 25 – Congressman Roger Williams

US Senators for Texas – Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz