As TCTA reported at the end of the legislative session, one of the bills signed into law this summer was HB 743, which, among other provisions, requires that standardized assessments in grades 3-5 be designed so that 85 percent of students can complete the test within 120 minutes; and for assessments in grades 6-8, 85 percent of students should be able to finish within 180 minutes. The bill also requires that an assessment in grades 3-8 must occur on a single day, which means that the 4th and 7th grade writing tests will have to be redesigned. TEA recently announced that the first administration of the writing tests restructured to conform to these requirements will be in the spring of 2017.

This restructuring is not to be confused with the requirement in HB 1164 that TEA establish a pilot program for an alternative method of assessing writing in grades 4-7, as well as the English I and II end-of-course exams. TEA will be working with the testing contractors to develop the alternative assessment method. The pilot will begin with the 2016-17 school year.