On Aug. 30, 2013, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams informed Texas school districts of his intent to file rules that would allow some students completing the fourth year of high school in 2013-14 to graduate under the new Foundation High School Program established under House Bill 5.

The proposed rules will only apply to the small group of seniors who are able to complete the coursework required to graduate under the Foundation High School Program in 2013-14 and who choose this option. (HB 5 specifies that the option applies to those who are not meeting the requirements of the current plan in which they are participating.) This includes students who complete the required coursework during the summer of 2014, but not thereafter. See the TEA chart "Proposed Graduation Program Options for Students Graduating in 2013-14" for details.

No endorsements/performance acknowledgments available yet

The requirements for the endorsements and performance acknowledgments established under HB 5 have not been yet been determined by the State Board of Education. As a result, a student who chooses to graduate under the Foundation High School Program in 2013-14 will earn a foundation diploma only. The student will not have the option to earn an endorsement, the distinguished level of achievement, or a performance acknowledgment, which are required to be eligible for automatic admission to institutions of higher education.

According to TEA, SBOE members are working to adopt rules to specify the curriculum requirements for the Foundation High School Program and related components to be fully implemented in 2014-15. Final SBOE decisions are expected in January 2014.  

More rules coming on HB 5 transition

TEA also noted that the commissioner will propose and file rules that address the 2013-14 transition year under authority granted to him in HB 5. The proposed rules will be subject to public comment, and TEA will make changes, as appropriate, in response to those comments. The rules will then be adopted as final. 

Commissioner Williams cautioned that the SBOE could later make different decisions about the Foundation High School Program requirements that will be in effect in future years.

TEA will post the latest information on HB 5 graduation requirements on the agency’s website.