The following was included in TCTA's 2017-18 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2017 but is subject to change.

Revised accountability system/A-F ratings

Legislation passed in 2017 revises the current state accountability system, effective August 2018, including reducing the current five-domain system to three domains: student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps. Indicators in the student achievement domain for high schools will include a long list of non-STAAR-based options for demonstration of college/career readiness. 

The revised accountability system will also incorporate campus ratings from approved local accountability plans for up to 50 percent of the overall rating awarded to an eligible campus (effectively replacing current Domain 5/community and student engagement).

Although A-F ratings will be assigned to school districts beginning in August 2018, A-F ratings for campuses will not take effect until August 2019, with a “What if” report by the Texas Education Agency to the legislature previewing what campus grades would look like under the new system due by January 2019. A change was made so that a rating of “D” no longer means unacceptable but instead means “needs improvement” (still high enough to be eligible to pursue District of Innovation status). 

Finally, TEA must report to the legislature by Dec. 1, 2022, the feasibility of incorporating extra/co-curricular indicators in the accountability system after studying the issue.

Study of state assessment impact on special education students

The Texas Education Agency is required to conduct a study of the impact of the statewide assessment program on special education students and identify any specific recommendations to improve the impact of the program to the Texas Legislature by Oct. 1, 2018. In conducting the study, TEA is required to address the following:

  • whether it has determined that the administration of alternate tests to students in a special education program complies with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act;
  • whether administering other state-required tests to students in a special education program will provide an accurate assessment of the academic achievement of the students and cause specified results; and
  • whether making a statutory change exempting students in a special education program from the administration of any statewide standardized test, unless the student’s parent or guardian requests such administration, would impact the statewide assessment program, including the extent of any such impact (legal and otherwise).

Proper interaction with peace officers

The State Board of Education and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement are required to develop instruction, including curriculum and instructional modules, on proper interaction with peace officers during traffic stops and other in-person encounters. The SBOE is required to adopt rules to include the instruction in one or more courses in the required curriculum for students in grades 9-12, beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

Advanced computer science program

The State Board of Education is required to develop an advanced computer science program under which, beginning with the 2018-19 school year, students in participating school districts can meet an advanced math or science credit by completing an advanced computer science course focused on the creation and use of software and computing technologies. 

Pathways in Technology Early College High School program

The P-TECH program will provide a course of study — at no cost to the student — under which students in grades 9-12 combine high school and postsecondary courses, allowing them to complete high school and obtain an associate degree, postsecondary certificate or industry certification within six years, starting in the 2018-19 school year. Schools will work with institutions of higher education and regional industry/business partners to provide access to education and work-based training. A district or charter school may apply to the commissioner for campus designation as a P-TECH school.

‘Days to minutes’ adjustments

Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, adjustments are made to the law passed in 2015 that converted instructional days to minutes, including referring to the “operation of schools” rather than “instruction of students,” and authorizing the commissioner of education to adopt rules to determine the minutes of operation that are equivalent to a day, defining minutes of operation and instructional time, and establishing the minimum number of minutes of instruction required for a full-day and half-day program. The commissioner also will be allowed to proportionally reduce funding if a district calendar provides fewer minutes of operation than required.