Tag Archives: ACT

New School Year, New Laws: Assessment

In last week’s “New School Year, New Laws” blog series penned by the ATPE lobby team, we discussed several bills passed during the recent 86th Legislative session that will impact curriculum and instruction. This week, the ATPE lobby team will address legislative changes adopted this year that pertain to how the state evaluates teaching and learning through assessment.

House Bill (HB) 1244 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin): Civics questions on U.S. History exams

HB 1244 alters the U.S. History end-of-course (EOC) exam by requiring that it include 10 questions randomly selected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and pulled from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services civics test. This is the test that is used during the naturalization process. Does this mean there will be new curriculum standards (TEKS) for U.S. History? No, the bill specifies that TEA must ensure that the questions on the new exam will be aligned with the existing TEKS. Additionally, TEA will be required to issue an annual report that provides the questions, answers, and student performance regarding the 10 civics questions. Student performance data included in the report will be disaggregated by district and campus. HB 1244 applies beginning with students who enter the ninth grade during the 2019-20 school year.

HB 3906 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood): Multifaceted assessments

HB 3906 makes several test-related changes that are effective with the 2019-20 school year. First, with regard to mathematics assessments: the State Board of Education (SBOE) will determine the sections of the grades 3-8 mathematics assessments on which students can use technology aids. TEA can now prohibit the use of technology on certain parts of the Algebra I assessment. Additionally, students can now use a calculator application on a “computing device” (computer) in place of a graphing calculator.

With regard to how TEA designs assessments, the target time it should take a student to complete a distinct “part” of the test was shortened. For grades three and four, the test should be designed so that 85% of students can complete the part within 60 minutes (previously 120 minutes). For grades five through eight, 85% of students should be able to complete the part within 75 minutes (previously 180 minutes). Lastly, assessments and end-of-course exams can now be split into multiple parts administered over more than one day, and the tests may not be administered on the first instructional day of the week (typically Monday).

Also effective immediately, TEA is required to establish an integrated formative assessment pilot program. Districts can opt into the pilot program, which will be used to determine if formative assessments improve instructional support and if they could potentially replace current assessments. TEA will also begin creating a transition plan for the eventual electronic administration of assessments, develop electronic interim assessments for districts to use, and create both technical and educator assessment advisory committees to provide recommendations to the commissioner and TEA on assessment development.

Some provisions in HB 3906 will roll out in the coming years. The bill eliminates the STAAR writing tests given in grades 4 and 7, which will take effect on Sept. 1, 2021. Under federal law, states are required to teach and assess “reading or language arts.” Texas does assess reading and will continue to do so under HB 3906. Also, by the 2022-23 school year, the amount of multiple choice questions on assessments will be limited to 75% and assessments will be administered electronically pursuant to this bill.

Senate Bill (SB) 213 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo): Continuing the individual graduation committees

Individual graduation committees allow a student to graduate in the event that they have completed all curricular requirements but have not passed their EOCs, even with a re-test opportunity. Students complete remediation and a project or portfolio to demonstrate proficiency in the course. Ultimately, the committee considers a variety of factors before making a decision on whether the student can graduate. The committees first came into existence with the enactment of a 2015 bill also carried by Sen. Seliger, but the law permitting the use of the committees was scheduled to expire. This year’s SB 213 extends the use of individual graduation committees for another four years, until 2023. This bill took effect immediately upon its passage.

HB 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood): Test-related provisions in the school finance and reform bill

Earlier this year, a New York Times article and other media reports cited multiple studies indicating that State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests were written above grade level. Spurred by consternation over such media reports, Chairman Huberty included in his HB 3 language that calls for an “assessment instrument study.” This requires TEA to work with a public institution of higher education to determine if each STAAR test is written at the appropriate grade level. Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath is required to submit a report on the findings of this study by Dec. 1 of this year.

The outcomes-based funding mechanism in HB 3 that relies on indicators of college, career, and military readiness will include performance on assessments such as the SAT, ACT, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). HB 3 also includes district reimbursement for the administration of certain college prep assessments. Finally, HB 3 requires districts to create an early childhood literacy and mathematics proficiency plan, which would include annual, quantifiable goals for student performance in reading and math.

If you’d like to learn even more about how these and other legislative changes may affect you and your classroom, we encourage you to check out ATPE’s brand new publication, “An Educator’s Guide to Changes Enacted by the 86th Texas Legislature.” This digital guide compiled by ATPE’s legal staff aims to help educators become aware of new laws affecting instruction, compensation, student discipline, and much more. Access the comprehensive guide here. Next Monday, visit ATPE’s Teach the Vote blog once again for more highlights from this year’s legislative session when we’ll be featuring new bills that impact special education in Texas.

State Board of Education discusses testing, graduation requirements

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) met this week, Sept. 9-11, in Austin.

The meeting started off with a lively exchange between SBOE board members and Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. The conversation ranged from implementation of new laws affecting the length of tests (HB 748 by Rep. Dan Huberty) to the graduation rate and how the Texas Education Agency calculates it, scores on STAAR tests covering the new math standards, and SAT/ACT scores and participation.

As part of its three-day agenda, the board also discussed graduation requirements, alignment of the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), potential funding for a long-range state education plan, and the process for the newest charter school applicants.

You can view the SBOE’s complete agenda for this week’s meetings here. Within the next several days, a link should be posted here, through which you may view archived footage of the meetings.

For any questions about the SBOE or the policies the board impacts, please contact the ATPE Governmental Relations department at government@atpe.org.

From the Texas Education Agency: Number of Texas students taking ACT sets new mark

More Texas Hispanic students in the 2015 graduating class took the ACT college admission test than any other student demographic, according to a report released today by ACT. The strong numbers led the state in setting a new ACT participation mark.

Of the 124,764 Texas students in the 2015 graduating class taking the ACT college admission test, almost 40 percent (48,934) were Hispanic. It’s the second consecutive year where the number of Hispanic students represented the highest number of examinees of any racial ethnic group.

Since 2011, Texas has seen a 22.8 percent increase in ACT test-taking graduates among all student groups.

Year Total Hispanic White African-American Asian
2015 124,764 48,934 46,564 13,792 6,698
2014 116,547 45,717 44,418 12,947 5,785
2013 109,841 41,877 43,299 12,695 4,871
2012 110,180 40,827 44,502 13,290 4,746
2011 101,569 35,093 42,685 12,874 4,556

“As our state’s student demographics have changed, the expectations we have for each of our students in the public education system remain high,” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “Over the past several years, increased ACT participation in our state has taken place across the board, which reflects student aspirations well beyond high school that strengthens the Texas of tomorrow.”

ACT tests are administered for a number of subject areas including English, math, reading, science and writing (optional). Texas scores (excluding the optional writing test) in 2015 are:

  • English – 19.8 (compared to 19.8 in 2014)
  • Math – 21.1 (compared to 21.4 in 2014)
  • Reading – 21.1 (compared to 21.1 in 2014)
  • Science – 21.0 (compared to 21.0 in 2014)
  • Composite – 20.9 (compared to 20.9 in 2014)

In addition, the 2015 average ACT scores for Texas students surpassed the national averages in mathematics and science.

Subject Texas National
Mathematics 21.1 20.8
Science 21.0 20.9
Reading 21.1 21.4
English 19.8 20.4
Composite 20.9 21.0

Additional highlights of the Texas ACT results for the Class of 2015 include:

  • The 2015 composite score of 23.3 for white students in Texas is .9 points higher than their national counterparts (22.4).
  • The 2015 composite score of 17.6 for African-American students in Texas is .5 points higher than their national counterparts (17.1).
  • The 2015 composite score of 25.1 for Asian students in Texas is 1.2 points higher than their national counterparts (23.9).
  • In 2015, ACT scores for African-American, Asian and white students in Texas were higher than the national scores in English, mathematics, reading and science.
  • The 2015 composite score of 18.7 for Hispanic/Latino students in Texas was .2 points lower than their national counterparts (18.9). However, the 2015 ACT scores for Hispanic students in Texas were higher than national scores in mathematics and science.
  • For the 2015 graduating class taking the ACT college admission test, 44 percent met the college readiness benchmark for mathematics (higher than the 42 percent national rate), and 38 percent met the college readiness benchmark in science (equaling the national rate).

The top 10 Texas universities (in descending order) receiving scores from Texas ACT test-takers were: Texas A&M University; University of Texas at Austin; Texas Tech University; Texas State University; Baylor University; University of Texas at San Antonio; University of North Texas; Sam Houston State University; University of Texas – Pan American; and University of Houston.

The entire ACT report – complete with national and state-by-state results – can be viewed at www.act.org/readiness/2015.


Originally published by the Texas Education Agency on Aug. 26, 2015.

TELL Texas survey results, new charter schools and ACT testing news from TEA

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced today the results of the state’s first survey of working conditions in Texas public schools. The Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Texas Survey was launched in April in response to a 2013 bill passed by the Texas Legislature and strongly supported by ATPE. The law requires the state to survey teachers and other educators biennially about teaching and learning conditions in their schools.

Statewide, 83,103 teachers participated in the anonymous survey this spring. Most educators who took the survey described their schools as good places to work and learn and expressed a desire to continue teaching in the same school. Many teachers reported an interest in receiving more training in closing achievement gaps and differentiating instruction.

Most of the state’s largest school districts had response rates that were too low to generate unique reports about the conditions within their districts. To preserve anonymity and validity of the survey, campuses and districts were required to meet a minimum response rate of at least 50 percent of their staff and a minimum of five teachers in order to generate reports specific to each campus or district. However, all responses submitted were counted as part of the statewide report, regardless of each survey respondent’s district or campus response rate.

In a press release today, ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey noted that there were some drawbacks with the timing of the state’s survey this year. The TELL Texas survey began in April during the same time that STAAR tests were being administered. Also, not all school administrators complied with state instructions to supply all of their certified professional staff with survey information and anonymous codes to access the online survey.

ATPE and all of the state’s major teacher organizations signed on as partner organizations for the TELL Texas survey and worked to help TEA notify educators about the survey and encourage their participation. Associations representing the state’s school boards and administrators declined invitations to become partners in the effort and voiced objections to some aspects of the survey. As Godsey said in today’s press release, “The TELL Texas Survey can be an extremely valuable tool for school leaders to use in their planning. If all school districts and administrators will support and promote the survey next time, we will be able to obtain more beneficial data.”

Visit TELLTexas.org to view the results of the 2014 survey. Read ATPE’s complete press release here, and read TEA’s press release here.

Also today, TEA announced that Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has approved the operation of five new charter schools in Texas: Beta Academy (Houston), High Point Academy (Fort Worth), Ki Charter Academy (San Marcos), The Excel Center (Austin) and Trinity Environmental Academy (Dallas). Five applicants were denied charters. The commissioner formally notified the State Board of Education (SBOE) of his decisions, which the board has authority to veto.

Finally, the agency announced today that a record number of Texas students have taken the ACT college admission test. Among the 2014 graduating class, 116,547 students in Texas took the ACT (up by more than 6,700 students from 2013). In addition, 45,717 Hispanic students took the ACT in 2014, which represents more than double the rate of students who took the ACT nationally. Read TEA’s press release on ACT results here.