Tag Archives: HB 5

ATPE testifies before state board on requiring Algebra II for high school graduation

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) met today in Austin and heard public testimony—including testimony from ATPE—on rules intended to implement House Bill (HB) 5’s graduation requirements. HB 5 was passed during the recent 83rd legislative session. Testimony focused primarily on proposals to require Algebra II for practically all students by placing it in all five endorsements, as well as whether to continue to requiring a half-credit in speech.

ATPE’s testimony: Students should be college- and career-ready

ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter offered testimony regarding our belief that students should be college- and career-ready, not college- or career-ready, at the completion of high school.  Although we support giving Texas students more choices and making high school relevant, our concern is that if we don’t expose all students to the concepts required on college entrance exams, we are taking an important choice away from students.

Our testimony stated that we had always understood that the endorsement tracks would have parallel courses to teach math and other concepts in alternative ways that fit the endorsement track and that those courses, whether career, technical or humanities courses, would be as rigorous as the traditional core academic courses that teach the same concepts. We suggest that the state board approve alternative courses to be developed that cover all of the minimum entrance requirements and fit within the endorsements. In addition, our goal will be to convince the next Legislature to re-examine course requirements and realign the TEKS so that all college entrance test concepts are provided to all students by the end of 10th grade, thus leaving the last two years of high school open for students to customize their educational experiences.

Our members also strongly support requiring speech as a course at this time and, in the future, incorporating presentation and speech concepts in multiple disciplines. Presentation and critical thinking skills are essential job requirements in the global economy, and all students deserve some intensive training in these skills in some form.

Split perspectives from business interests

Business interests were split on the subject of requiring Algebra II. Most manufacturing interests testified that local school districts should decide which courses to offer beyond those required by HB 5 and claimed that Algebra II is not needed for the many jobs that their industries are desperately trying to fill. But other business groups and chambers of commerce—along with civil rights groups—testified for requiring Algebra II, arguing that Algebra II is a requirement for college entrance in many universities and that the concepts are a part of college entrance exams. Their position is that all students should get an equal chance at the choice of higher education.

Several professors, including Dr. Michael Marder of the University of Texas’ UTeach program, offered data showing the link between higher education and the careers of the future. Marder’s comments centered on the word “career”—defined as the ability to move up in a field or profession or to become a manager or supervisor—as opposed to “job.” Marder’s research shows clearly that the reasoning and critical thinking skills learned in higher-level math courses are preferred, if not required, to move upward in the current labor force and will only become more so in the future. (Read Marder’s testimony at https://bit.ly/MarderHB5.)

ATPE’s press release on the proposed rules

This press release from ATPE State President Ginger Franks was released in advance of the meeting.

Statement from ATPE State President Ginger Franks on proposed SBOE rules

AUSTIN, Texas – This week, the State Board of Education (SBOE) will debate—along with other graduation requirements—whether Texas high school students should have to master Algebra II in order to graduate.

The president of the state’s largest educator association, special education teacher Ginger Franks, issued a statement on the proposed SBOE rules on behalf of ATPE’s more than 100,000 members:

“This is the most significant change in high school graduation requirements in 20 years, and when you make sweeping changes like these, it often takes time to iron out the kinks and determine exactly what students will need in the future,” Franks said. “As a state, we must be careful not to return to the era of tracking, when teachers and counselors steered minorities and others deemed ‘not college material’ away from difficult courses that could open doors to rewarding career opportunities.

“Regardless of what the SBOE adopts, ATPE’s hope is that in 2015 the Legislature will continue to work on retooling efforts begun by House Bill 5 so all students 1) are exposed to the concepts that higher education admissions require and 2) still have two years to customize their high school experiences in meaningful ways.”

SBOE to hold public hearing on new graduation requirements

The State Board of Education (SBOE) is holding a public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 17 on the new foundation high school program graduation requirements required by House Bill 5 (from the 83rd legislative session). The board is seeking input from the general public, including educators.

This is an excellent opportunity for educators to share their thoughts and concerns directly with SBOE. One of the major topics will be determining the requirements for the various subject area endorsement tracks.

If you are interested in testifying before the board, please contact ATPE Governmental Relations. You can also register to testify directly with SBOE between the hours of 8 a.m. Friday (Sept. 13) and 5 p.m. Monday (Sept. 16) by calling (512) 463-9007.

Read the official notice from the Texas Education Agency website.

For more information, contact ATPE Governmental Relations.

SBOE seeking input on new graduation plans

From the Texas Education Agency website:

Aug. 13, 2013

SBOE seeks input on new graduation plans

AUSTIN – The State Board of Education is seeking input from educators and community members as it begins to restructure graduation requirements to address recent changes in state law.

House Bill 5 (HB5), passed by the Texas Legislature this spring, made substantial changes to the state’s graduation requirements, moving from the current “4×4” graduation plans to a 22-credit Foundation High School Program that allows students to earn endorsements in specific areas of study by completing four additional credits.

The new plan requires the state board to make a number of policy decisions, such as deciding which courses will count as advanced mathematics, English and science courses and determining the requirements for each endorsement area. The endorsement areas are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); business and industry; public services; arts and humanities; and multidisciplinary studies.

The board will hold a public hearing Sept. 17 in room 1-104 of the Travis State Office Building in Austin to receive input from educators and others about the changing graduation requirements.

“We encourage you to submit specific suggestions as to the course offerings that will give school districts the flexibility mandated in HB5 that is intended to meet all students’ postsecondary goals,” said Barbara Cargill, chair of the State Board of Education.

After the public hearing, Texas Education Agency staff will craft a proposed rule dealing with graduation requirements.

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

A final vote on the changes is expected during the board’s Jan. 29-31 meeting. All board meetings will occur at the Travis State Office Building at 1701 N. Congress Ave. in Austin.

Those who wish to submit comments about the graduation changes prior to the beginning of the official rulemaking process may send their comments to sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us through Sept. 10.

Because many details about the Foundation High School Program and the endorsements must still be worked out, the new graduation plan will not be in effect for the 2013-2014 school year.

School districts must 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 when those students who enter high school later this month graduate.

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.

As updates become available about the graduation programs, they will be posted on the Texas Education Agency’s website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/graduation.aspx.

HB 5 transition information

House Bill (HB) 5, which was recently signed into law, overhauls testing and graduation requirements for Texas high school students. As with any change of this sort, some students will be caught in the middle, having completed some of the old requirements. To help make the transition for students and educators as smooth as possible, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the following guidelines (which can also be found on the TEA website).

TEA announces initial assessment requirements under HB 5

AUSTIN—Under House Bill 5 (HB 5), passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature and signed by the governor, high school students are now required to pass five State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) end-of-course exams to meet the new graduation requirements.

The five assessments under HB 5 include Algebra I, English I (combined reading/writing), English II (combined reading/writing), biology, and U.S. history. The Texas Education Agency will be advising school districts and charters that students must pass all five of these end-of-course assessments to be eligible to graduate from a Texas public high school.

As a result, students who have taken a required assessment – but have not yet passed—will still need to demonstrate satisfactory performance on that exam to meet the state’s graduation requirements.

Reading and writing are currently assessed separately in English I and English II. However, HB 5 requires reading and writing be combined and given in a single day.

High school students who have to date passed English I or English II reading but not English I or English II writing (or vice versa) will still need to successfully complete the second test to meet graduation requirements. Existing state law does not allow the commissioner to waive a testing requirement.

The English I and English II tests will continue to have separate reading and writing tests for the July 2013 test administration and the December 2013 test administration. English I and English II assessments that combine reading and writing will be available beginning in spring 2014. High school students who have not successfully completed a separate reading or writing assessment by that time will take the new combined English I or English II test.

“Whenever the state revises its graduation plans and assessment requirements, many high school students get caught in that transition,” said Commissioner of Education Michael L. Williams. “The Texas Education Agency is working to make that transition a smooth one for those already in the pipeline, while also balancing fairness to those students who have successfully completed components of the current system.”

Assessments in Algebra II, geometry, English III, chemistry, physics, world geography, and world history have been eliminated from the testing requirements. As a result, the July 2013 STAAR administration will not include assessments for these courses. End-of-course assessments will continue to be offered in Algebra I, English I, English II, biology, and U.S. history.

The Texas Education Agency will be advising school districts and charters that accelerated instruction is required for students who did not perform satisfactorily on end-of-course exams required for graduation under HB 5 (Algebra I, English I (reading/writing), English II (reading/writing), biology, and U.S. history).

Since the end-of-course exams for chemistry, physics, Algebra II, geometry, world history, world geography and English III are no longer required for high school graduation under HB 5, accelerated instruction is not required for those courses.

HB 5 also eliminates the 15 percent grading requirement. Under the rule previously connected to the STAAR end-of-course examinations, a student’s score on the STAAR end-of-course exams would have counted 15 percent of the student’s final grade in each tested subject area. The STAAR end-of-course cumulative score component has also been eliminated.

Gov. Perry signs House Bill 5

Gov. Rick Perry held a press conference this afternoon to sign House Bill (HB) 5 into law. The bill’s author, House Public Education Committee Chairman Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen), joined Perry for the ceremony. Sen. Education Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst were also present.

HB 5 reduces the number of standardized tests required to graduate and grants students and schools more flexibility in graduation requirements.

Read an article from the Austin American Statesman on the signing.

Stay tuned.

TRS bill moves forward on a frenetic Friday

After a rough start earlier today, the Texas House acted on important pieces of education-related legislation this afternoon. Most notably, the House approved Senate Bill (SB) 1458—the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) bill—on second reading by a unanimous vote. The bill’s author, Sen. Robert Duncan (R–Lubbock), and House sponsor, Rep. Bill Callegari (R–Katy), acknowledged the role of education stakeholders in the negotiations. ATPE is pleased that the bill is one step closer to passage, putting TRS on the road to actuarial soundness. The bill also promises a long-awaited benefit increase for retirees.

As expected, Callegari amended the TRS bill on the floor to expand the scope of SB 1458’s proposed cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for retirees. The COLA will now cover all those who retired in 2004 or earlier, which is a substantial increase from the original proposal that would have covered only those who have been retired for at least 20 years.

Earlier today, it was unclear whether any action would occur on the TRS bill or other pieces of legislation that were scheduled to be heard in the House. Numerous members of the House complained that the Senate was not cooperating through not moving House bills forward, and some representatives openly threatened to kill many of the Senate bills pending in the House in retribution for the perceived inaction in the upper chamber. Progress was made on the impasse, however, and after several delays and behind-the-scenes conversations, the House quickened the pace of business this afternoon.

SB 2 and the budget

Prior to hearing the TRS bill, the House also voted to approve SB 2—the charter bill—on third reading. That bill will presumably head to a conference committee that will be tasked to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the charter reform measure.

Now that the House has completed its work on the charter bill, education stakeholders and parent advocates will be closely watching the Senate to see any movement on HB 5, the bill that would overhaul student testing and graduation requirements. The House has selected its members of the HB 5 conference committee, but the Senate has not yet done the same.

House and Senate budget negotiators also appear to have reached a deal on the appropriations bill; the agreement reportedly calls for $3.93 billion for public education.

Stay tuned for updates and continue to follow @TeachtheVote on Twitter for the latest developments.

Senate approves HB 5

The Texas Senate approved HB 5 after lengthy floor debate last night. Nearly 30 amendments to the bill were considered, including one by Sen. Tommy Williams (R–The Woodlands) that adds two additional STAAR tests to testing requirements. You can read a running account of the debate on our Twitter.

The bill will now head to a conference committee made up of both House and Senate members who will hammer out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Stay tuned for more.


End of the week wrap-up: HB 5, TEA sunset, “virtual vouchers” and SBOE resolution

House Bill (HB) 5, the broad education reform bill calling for changes in graduation and testing requirements, was approved by the Senate Education Committee April 16. The version passed by the committee was reworked to incorporate elements of Senate Bill (SB) 3 and SB 1724 by Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). (These bills also deal with testing and graduation requirements.) The committee also approved several amendments to the bill, including one that would remove a provision calling for schools to be rated using letter grades A-F. Patrick said there was no need to include that provision in this bill because it’s in another bill already moving through the process, though he did not indicate which one. However, at this point, such a provision could be meaningless as the commissioner of education has stated that he already has the authority to implement an A-F rating system and plans to do so.

The Senate Education Committee also approved SB 218, the sunset bill for the Texas Education Agency. “Sunset” refers to a review of state agencies and programs to determine if they should be continued, amended or discontinued. This bill is important to watch. Because it relates so broadly to public education, it could be amended on the House or Senate floor to include just about anything, including provisions from bills otherwise dead for the session.

The House Public Education Committee took up a virtual learning bill April 18. HB 1724 by Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) would require school districts to allow virtual learning providers to offer their courses at public schools and force school districts to pay for them if students opt to take the courses. As currently written, this bill is a form of virtual voucher in which public funds would be diverted to private companies. The bill was left pending by the committee. ATPE will be keeping a close eye on its progress.

The State Board of Education voted April 19 on a non-binding resolution opposing the use of state funds for voucher programs. The resolution is meant to inform the Legislature and the public of the board’s position on the issue. The vote was 10-5 in favor of the resolution.

Stay tuned for updates.