In October 2013 the Texas Education Agency released draft rules that provide a comprehensive look at what the Foundation High School Program will look like when it replaces the state’s current three graduation programs in 2014-15.

House Bill 5, the 2013 law that created the Foundation program, provided a basic plan, including the number of credit hours students must earn in each subject area to graduate and a list of disciplines in which students may earn endorsements. But, as is typically the case, many details were left to be decided during the rulemaking phase of implementation.

TEA wrote the draft rules, which list the courses required for each endorsement area and the requirements to earn a distinguished level of achievement, as well as other specifics, following a September hearing in which educators and other stakeholders provided input.

Then, in November, the State Board of Education preliminarily approved the rules. As approved, the rules allow school districts to decide whether to require a speech course for graduation (a change from current SBOE policy, which requires a half-credit), and require Algebra II only for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) endorsement and the distinguished level of achievement. Read the rules as approved in November.

The nearly unanimous vote to approve the rules came after a public hearing Nov. 20 at which both House Public Education Committee Chair Jimmie Don Aycock and Senate Education Committee Chair Dan Patrick told the SBOE that legislators had not intended for Algebra II to be required for every endorsement under the new graduation program. Instead, they said the goal was to give students the flexibility to take other high-level math courses.

Read TCTA's eUpdate newsletter for the latest news on these rules, which will be finalized at the SBOE’s January 2014 meeting.