Governor Abbott has now acted on (signed or vetoed) all bills. Unless otherwise noted, all bills below were signed and will go into effect immediately or for the 2017-18 school year.

“BRACKETED BILL” refers to legislation that is designed to only apply to certain districts, usually restricted either by enrollment or population, or by geographic location.

Accountability and Testing

HB 22 by Rep. Dan Huberty / Sen. Larry Taylor includes revisions to the accountability system:

  • Does not delay implementation of A-F ratings for districts (districts will receive their ratings beginning with the coming school year), but postpones campus-level A-F ratings until the 2018-19 school year (campuses will be rated either "improvement required" or "met standard" for the 2017-18 school year).
  • Reduces the five domains in the current system to three: student achievement, school progress, and “closing the gaps.” Includes more non-test-based indicators in these domains to reduce the emphasis on state testing.
  • Revises the meaning of a “D” rating from unacceptable to needs improvement, which falls under the category of acceptable. Only an “F” rating will be considered unacceptable.
  • Creates a new “Local Accountability System” component that allows districts to assign an overall rating to one or more campuses rated A-C at the time, based on a combination of the commissioner-assigned ratings and locally-developed measures.

HB 789 by Rep. Morgan Meyer / Sen. Don Huffines is a BRACKETED BILL for Highland Park ISD that will allow the board to set a minimum passage rate higher than the state passage rate for an exam for acceleration or an exam for credit. The higher passage standard can be no more than a score in the 90th percentile, must be established before the beginning of the school year and must apply throughout the school year.

HB 1553 by Rep. Jose Lozano / Sen. Juan Hinojosa includes in the list of actions the commissioner may take when a district fails to meet academic or financial standards (or as a result of a special investigation) authorization for the district to partner with an institution of higher education to improve district performance.

HB 2263 by Rep. Lance Gooden / Sen. Royce West removes current law requiring a campus intervention team to continue working with a campus that had been assigned an unacceptable rating even after the district meets required performance standards. Requires the commissioner to approve or reject a campus turnaround plan, and requires a district to create a modified plan if the original plan is rejected.

HB 3075 by Rep. Dan Huberty / Sen. Sylvia Garcia provides that a charter school that provides education services to a student in a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility will not have that student counted for purposes of dropout and completion rates (an exemption currently provided to a traditional public school providing services to such students).

Career and Technology

HB 136 by Rep. Cecil Bell / Sen. Carlos Uresti adds to the statutory “objectives of public education” that “…students will be prepared to succeed in a variety of postsecondary activities, including employment and enrollment in institutions of higher education” and that SBOE, TEA and the commissioner “shall assist school districts and charter schools in providing career and technology education to students.”

HB 639 by Rep. Doc Anderson / Sen. Jose Menendez allows school boards to obtain accident, liability, or car insurance to protect businesses that partner with schools to provide a CTE program and students participating in such programs. Students or parents cannot be charged for the insurance coverage.

HB 728 by Rep. Bobby Guerra / Sen. Juan Hinojosa requires the SBOE to develop an advanced computer science program under which 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. (Program must be implemented during the 2018-19 school year.)

HB 2087 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver / Sen. Larry Taylor adds provisions regarding the protection of student information to the statutes governing the use of computers and computer-related equipment. Establishes rules that define when an operator of a website/app/service is allowed to use, and is prohibited from the use of, student data. The sale of student data is prohibited, as is the use of targeted advertising based on information gathered through the educational use of the operator’s website/service.

HB 2729 by Rep. Eddie Lucio III / Sen. Borris Miles requires TEA, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commissioner to develop and post an inventory of industry-recognized credentials and certificates that a high school student can earn through a CTE program that are aligned to state/regional workforce needs and that serve as an entry point to middle- and high-wage jobs. Accompanying information must include the associated career cluster, the level of education required, necessary fees for obtaining the certificate/credential, average wage/salary for the related jobs, etc.

HB 3526 by Rep. Donna Howard / Sen. Larry Taylor changes the name of the instructional materials allotment to the technology and instructional materials allotment; makes the same change to the instructional materials fund. Provides that the fund may, in addition to current uses, be used to pay expenses associated with the instructional materials web portal authorized in the bill. The portal is to be developed and maintained by the commissioner to help districts and charter schools select instructional materials, and must include information such as pricing, computer system requirements and other specifications for each item that is on the instructional materials list or is submitted by a publisher for inclusion in the portal. The commissioner will contract with a private vendor to conduct an analysis of each item submitted by a publisher to the portal to evaluate the quality of the material and determine the extent to which it covers TEKS. The portal will include a repository of open educational resources and other electronic materials that districts and charter schools can access for free. Authorizes the commissioner to establish a grant program of up to $25 million from the technology and instructional materials fund for districts and charter schools to implement a technology lending program for students to have access to equipment necessary to use electronic instructional materials.

HB 3593 by Rep. Diego Bernal – Sen. Larry Taylor requires the SBOE to approve courses in cybersecurity. A district can offer a course in cybersecurity approved by the board of trustees for credit without obtaining SBOE approval if the district is partnering with an institution of higher education that offers an undergraduate degree program in cybersecurity. Specifies that a computer programming language course that can substitute for a language other than English must include computer coding. Adds cybersecurity and computer coding to the STEM endorsement courses. Requires SBOE to adopt or select five technology applications courses on cybersecurity to be included in a cybersecurity pathway for the STEM endorsement. Allows a teacher to be eligible for the subsidy currently provided to students taking a CTE certificate or license exam if the teacher passes a certification exam related to cybersecurity. Includes as a high school performance indicator the percentage of students who successfully complete an approved practicum or internship. Allows a district entitled to the new instructional facility allotment to use the funding to renovate an existing facility to serve as a dedicated cybersecurity computer lab.

Curriculum

HB 1545 by Rep. Travis Clardy / Sen. Robert Nichols allows certain high school courses related to law enforcement to count as credit hours toward the training required for a peace officer license; the applicant must have earned an endorsement in the public services category.

HB 2010 by Rep. Greg Bonnen / Sen. Larry Taylor requires TEA to collect and make available information regarding workplace safety training that can be included in the curriculum. Allows districts to develop a workplace safety program that provides educators access to the information and encourages them to use the information in the curriculum of appropriate courses.

HB 3706 by Rep. Eddie Lucio III / Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. allows districts to offer online dropout recovery programs. An online program must include credentials, certification or other course offerings related to employment opportunities in Texas; employ as faculty persons with bachelor’s or advanced degrees; provide an academic coach and local advocate for each student; use an individual learning plan to monitor progress; establish requirements for monthly progress under standards set by the commissioner; provide a monthly report to the school district regarding progress; and perform satisfactorily according to performance indicators and accountability standards adopted for alternative education programs.

Discipline

HB 156 by Rep. Richard Raymond / Sen. Judith Zaffirini is a BRACKETED BILL restricted to Webb County. Creates a pilot program under which students in up to two high schools in the county, which already have a JROTC program, can be placed in a JROTC program (and continue in their regular classes as possible) with parental consent as an alternative to placement in a DAEP or JJAEP. Certain students are not eligible for the option, including those who engaged in conduct requiring expulsion, those whose presence in the regular classroom would pose a threat to other students, etc.

HB 674 by Rep. Eric Johnson / Sen. Sylvia Garcia prohibits out-of-school suspension of a student in a grade below three except for a weapons offense, violent offense, or drug/alcohol-related offense on school property or at a school-related activity. Allows districts to implement a positive behavior program in consultation with campus behavior coordinators and service center personnel to provide a disciplinary alternative for students below grade three. The program must provide alternative courses of action that do not rely on in- or out-of-school suspension or placement in a DAEP and should provide behavior management strategies including positive behavioral intervention and support, trauma-informed practices, social/emotional learning, referral for services, and restorative practices.

HB 1569 by Rep. Trent Ashby / Sen. Robert Nichols requires a residential facility to provide to a school district or charter school educating a student in the facility any information relating to the student’s school records (including special education eligibility or services, behavioral intervention plans, disciplinary actions), other non-confidential behavioral history and the student’s record of convictions, probation, community supervision or parole status if such information is needed to provide education services. Does not apply to a juvenile pre-adjudication secure detention facility or post-adjudication secure correctional facility.

Health and Safety

HB 867 by Rep. Jason Villalba / Sen. Van Taylor adds private schools to existing laws regarding school marshals. Revises the school marshal statutes for public schools to allow districts to appoint – rather than one school marshal for 400 students at a campus as in current law – the greater of one marshal per 200 students at a campus or one marshal per instructional building at a campus. Revises the approved ammunition, rather than specifying frangible ammunition designed to disintegrate on impact, to be ammunition approved for the purpose by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

HB 1076 by Rep. Tom Oliverson / Sen. Don Huffines revises the statute regarding spinal screenings to remove the requirement that they be performed in grades 6 and 9 and instead provides that the Health and Human Services Commissioner will adopt a screening schedule based on current research. The commissioner must also develop a process for notifying parents of the screen requirement and how the screening might be declined for religious objections. (Applies beginning with the 2018-19 school year)

HB 2880 by Rep. Harold Dutton / Sen. Jose Menendez reduces the penalty for the threatened exhibition or threatened use of a firearm on school property or on a school bus from a third degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor, unless the person actually possess or has immediate access to the firearm (in which case it remains a third degree felony).

HB 3024 by Rep. Four Price / Sen. Brian Birdwell allows a chiropractor (in addition to the current law list of coach, parent, doctor, or licensed health care professional) to remove a student from a UIL athletic activity if a concussion is suspected.

HB 3157 by Rep. Dennis Bonnen / Sen. Joan Huffman allows the use of photoscreening, which may be preferred for small children, when screening students for vision disorders.

HB 3270 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac / Sen. Larry Taylor prohibits a contractor or subcontractor for construction or engineering services at a school facility from allowing an employee to provide services at an instructional facility with the possibility of direct contact with students if the person was convicted within the last 30 years of certain serious offenses against a minor or student. Employees who will be working at an instructional facility and could have contact with students must undergo a criminal background check.

HB 4056 by Rep. Toni Rose / Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. enhances the list of best practices programs for addressing mental health concerns in schools by requiring the inclusion of programs and practices relating to building skills relating to managing emotions, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and responsible decision-making; trauma-informed practices; positive school climate (including interpersonal relationships, teaching/learning practices, and organizational structures as experienced by students, parents and personnel); and positive behavior supports.

Higher Education / Dual Credit

HB 66 by Rep. Ryan Guillen / Sen. Judith Zaffirini revises current law regarding the ability of elected officials to appoint students to receive a Texas Armed Services Scholarship to provide that if a student fails to maintain eligibility or otherwise meet requirements to continue receiving the scholarship, the elected official may appoint another student the following year to receive any available funds originally designated for the first student. (Effective 9/1/2018.)

HB 1638 by Rep. Ryan Guillen / Sen. Royce West requires TEA and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop statewide goals for the various types of dual credit programs to provide uniform standards. The goals must address a program’s achievement of enrollment in and acceleration through postsecondary education, performance in college-level coursework, and developing an effective bridge between secondary and postsecondary education. Any agreement between a district and higher education institution to provide a dual credit program must include specific, aligned program goals, establish course credits that may be earned, describe academic support for students, establish respective roles and responsibilities, and state the sources of funding for courses offered (including sources for tuition, transportation and any fees or textbooks). (New provisions affecting agreements apply beginning with agreements entered into or renewed on or after September 1, 2018.)

HB 2537 by Rep. Bobby Guerra / Sen. Royce West requires that information must be provided to high school students who are or were in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services regarding the availability of financial assistance and tuition/fee waivers for higher education.

HB 2937 by Rep. Terry Canales / Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. is a BRACKETED BILL that requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to implement a pilot program under which a hospital offers dual credit courses to high school students in a partnering district. The pilot is limited to a hospital located in Hidalgo County. The hospital must design the ducal credit courses to enable students to earn a variety of certifications, certificates and degrees, including at least one certification/certificate while the student is in high school.

HB 264 by Rep. Ana Hernandez / Sen. Sylvia Garcia removes an outdated reference to the “B-On-Time Loan Program” in the statute that requires certain information to be provided to students and parents regarding higher education.

Prekindergarten

HB 357 by Rep. Dan Huberty / Sen. Joan Huffman adds the children of certain persons eligible for the Star of Texas award (peace officers, firefighters and emergency medical first responders who are severely injured or killed in the line of duty) to the list of children eligible for free prekindergarten. 

HB 1593 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac / Sen. Bryan Hughes adds provisions specifying that the family engagement strategies required for the high-quality prekindergarten grant program must include the parental involvement/home learning aspect of family engagement.

School Governance / Administrative Issues

HB 332 by Rep. Morgan Meyer / Sen. Craig Estes requires districts to include in their multihazard emergency operations plan a policy for facilities used as polling places, and to consult with local law enforcement regarding reasonable accommodations that can be made to such facilities.

HB 441 by Rep. Mando Martinez / Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. prohibits districts from providing student instruction on Memorial Day. If a district would otherwise have to use Memorial Day as a make-up day for weather or disaster purposes, the commissioner must waive the required amount of instructional time to allow the district to remain closed.

HB 523 by Rep. Mike Schofield / Sen. Lois Kolkhorst is a BRACKETED BILL restricted to districts with a student enrollment of 10,000 or more. Amends existing law for such districts that requires video and audio recordings of regular meetings to clarify that such recordings must also be made for work sessions or special meetings if at the meeting the board votes on any matter or allows public comment or testimony.

HB 1081 by Rep. Diana Arevalo / Sen. Kirk Watson expands the definition of “new instructional facility” for purposes of the new instructional facility allotment to include renovation and leasing of existing facilities.

HB 2369 by Rep. Poncho Nevarez / Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. prevents a municipal water service from charging school districts a fee that is not charged to other entities receiving service from the utility, or a fee based on the number of district students or employees.

HB 2442 by Rep. Ken King / Sen. Larry Taylor makes adjustments to the law passed last session that converted instructional days to minutes by 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. Allows the commissioner of education to proportionally reduce funding if a district calendar provides fewer minutes of operation than required. Allows the commissioner to waive certain requirements or adopt rules to implement the new law. (Applies beginning with the 2018-19 school year, except for the provision allowing the commissioner to waive requirements or adopt rules to assist in implementation, which is effective immediately.)

HB 3563 by Rep. Linda Koop / Sen. Van Taylor updates language referring to federal law about notifying parents of teachers not certified at the grade level/subject area in which they have been assigned to ensure that redundant notifications are eliminated.

Special Education

HB 657 by Rep. Diego Bernal / Sen. Jose Menendez authorizes a student’s ARD committee, which must convene after the student’s first failed attempt to pass a STAAR exam, to determine whether the student should be promoted instead of having to re-take the STAAR test.

HB 1556 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez / Sen. Jose Menendez provides that a foster parent of a child with a disability who will act as the parent of the child for special education decision-making purposes must complete training before the next scheduled ARD committee meeting. The Department of Family and Protective Services must inform the district if the foster parent is unwilling to serve in that capacity, in which case the district will appoint an individual to serve as a surrogate parent. The surrogate may not be a state or school employee or have any conflicting interests with those of the child. If the school determines that the surrogate is failing to perform required duties, another person may be appointed.

HB 1886 by Rep. Rick Miller and Sen. Joan Huffman addresses dyslexia issues as well as transition planning for graduating students.

Dyslexia: Requires each dyslexia specialist to employ a licensed dyslexia therapist to support school districts. Requires that students be screened or tested, as appropriate (current law requires testing) for dyslexia and related disorders, and requires that it be done at the end of kindergarten and first grade. Requires TEA to annually develop a list of training opportunities regarding dyslexia that must include at least one online opportunity. The opportunities must comply with the knowledge and practice standards of an international organization on dyslexia and enable educators to understand recognize it and implement appropriate instruction.

Transition planning: Specifies that individuals in addition to a minor student’s parents, if invited by the parents or by the school district, may be involved in the student’s transition planning process for life outside the school system. For a student who is at least 18, the transition planning may include parents or other persons who are invited by the student or who have student consent to participate under a supported decision-making agreement. Provides more specificity regarding the information that should be addressed in the transition plan. Requires the commissioner of education to post online a list of services and public benefits for which referrals may be appropriate. Requires that the transition and employment guide be written in plain language. Requires districts, within a year before the 18th birthday of a student with a disability, to provide the student and parents information regarding guardianship and alternatives, and other supports and services that may help the student live independently.

(The provisions regarding transition planning go into effect beginning with the 2018-19 school year.)

HB 2130 by Rep. Kevin Roberts / Sen. Jose Menendez requires TEA to conduct a study of the impact of the state’s testing program on students in special education programs. The study must address whether the administration of tests complies with federal law; and whether state assessments will provide an accurate evaluation of academic achievement, are appropriate for students’ educational capacity, result in a decrease in the number of students promoted, result in a decrease in graduation rates, result in fewer opportunities to pursue higher education, results in fewer opportunities for competitive integrated employment, and other such subjects. The study must also address whether exempting special education students from assessments (unless a parent requests the assessment) would impact the state assessment program and to what extent. The agency must identify recommendations to improve the impact of state testing on special education students, including reforms with respect to contracting with vendors, improving grade-level promotion and graduation rates, developing allowable accommodations and applying principles of universal design, and rules and statutory changes.

HB 3632 by Rep. Joe Moody / Sen. Jose Rodriguez extends the statute of limitations for requesting an impartial special education due process hearing if the parent of the special education student is an active-duty service member.

Teacher Certification / Preparation

HB 1469 by Rep. Ernest Bailes / Sen. Charles Schwertner is a BRACKETED BILL for local enrollment charter schools serving youth in a residential trade center. Allows such schools to hire a teacher for a noncore vocational course who does not have a college degree if the person has demonstrated subject matter expertise (such as work experience, formal training, a relevant license or certification, etc.) and receives at least 20 hours of classroom management training.

HB 1934 by Rep. Ina Minjarez / Sen. Donna Campbell requires SBEC to establish procedures to expedite processing of a certificate for an out-of-state educator who is the spouse of an active duty member of the armed forces. Includes a provision making the bill contingent on specific funding being included in the state budget; no such funding was included.

HB 2039 by Rep. Dan Huberty and Sen. Judith Zaffirini requires SBEC to establish an early childhood (EC-3) certificate. A person is not required to hold this certificate to be hired by a district to teach preK-3. Candidates for the certificate must either satisfactorily complete the course work for the certificate in an educator preparation program, with instruction that includes teaching methods for small group instructional formats, navigating multiple content areas and managing a classroom environment with small student groups, along with strategies for teaching fundamental academic skills; or hold an EC-6 certificate and complete a similar course of instruction. The person must also pass an EC certificate exam.

HB 3349 by Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins / Sen. Van Taylor requires SBEC to create an abbreviated educator preparation program for a person seeking certification in trade and industrial workforce training that requires no more than a high school diploma, seven years of experience in an approved occupation, and a related license/certification. The program must include at least 80 hours of classroom instruction in pedagogy, creating lesson plans, creating student assessments, classroom management, and relevant laws.

TRS / Health Insurance

HB 1428 by Rep. John Smithee / Sen. Joan Huffman adds participants in the TRS health insurance plans (TRS-Care and ActiveCare) to a law that provides mediation services for settling out-of-network claim disputes.

HB 3976 by Rep. Trent Ashby / Sen. Joan Huffman restructures retiree health insurance by splitting TRS-Care into two programs – one for Medicare-eligible retirees and one for non-Medicare-eligible/under age 65 retirees. Highlights include:

  • Requires districts to increase their contribution from the current .55 percent of payroll to .75 percent (bringing in another $134 million).
  • Amends current law to remove the requirement that TRS provide at least one free level of health insurance coverage, so retirees will now be required to pay a premium.
  • Provides that retirees who are at least age 65/Medicare-eligible will no longer be able to select from three levels of health care coverage, but will instead be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program with Part D prescription coverage.
  • Provides that retirees who are under age 65 will be enrolled in a high-deductible plan. The premium costs will be phased in over a four-year period. During the next four years, pre-65 disability retirees (who took a disability retirement prior to Jan. 1, 2017) will not have to pay a premium for coverage.
  • Pre-65 retirees will not have to pay for certain specified generic maintenance drugs. Other prescriptions will be full price until the deductible is met, after which the plan will cover 80 percent of the cost.
  • The new terms apply beginning with the 2018 plan year, which begins Jan. 1, 2018. Until then, current and new retirees will continue to enroll in the existing plans.
  • There is no "grandfather" provision; retiring early will not exclude an employee from these provisions.

 

UIL / Extracurricular

HB 1075 by Rep. Ed Thompson / Sen. Kelly Hancock requires UIL sports officials to undergo a criminal background check once every three years.

HB 1645 by Rep. Jose Lozano / Sen. Judith Zaffirini provides that if a district allows high school students to earn letters for extracurricular achievements, the districts must allow for a letter to be earned on the basis of a student’s participation in a Special Olympics event.

Vetoed Bills

HB 61 by Rep. Ryan Guillen / Sen. Carlos Uresti narrows the scope of video camera placement in self-contained special education classrooms (as authorized via 2015 legislation) to only the specified classroom(s), and clarifies that the placement only applies for the specified school year, unless continuation is requested. Provides that the request can be made by a parent of a child receiving special education services in a self-contained classroom or other special education setting, a school board, a principal or assistant principal, or a staff member assigned to work with students receiving special education services in such a setting. (These provisions are also in SB 1398.)

Also includes provisions adding, as both an academic indicator for middle/junior high schools and as a factor in the determination of academic distinction, the percentage of students formerly receiving special education services who achieved satisfactory performance on the standardized tests as determined by commissioner rule. (These provisions are also in HB 22.)

HB 1500 by Rep. Helen Giddings / Sen. Royce West includes several provisions revising the accountability system:

  • Adds to the indicators of high school campus/district performance
    • the percentage of students completing an IB course,
    • the percentage of students completing an OnRamps dual enrollment course,
    • the percentage of students receiving credit by examination,
    • the percentage of students promoted to a higher grade level than their normal assignment,
    • the percentage of students earning a diploma after no more than three years of high school, and
    • the percentage of students earning an associate degree.
  • Adds to indicators for middle and junior high school campuses
    • the percentage of students in grades 7 and 8 who complete a pre-AP or pre-IB course, and
    • the percentage of students participating in a UIL academic event.
  • Requires the commissioner to determine a method by which student performance is given greater weight the longer the student has been continuously enrolled at the district/campus.
  • Specifies that a D rating reflects “needs improvement” but is considered acceptable; only an F rating is unacceptable.
  • Allows the commissioner to downward-adjust a rating if disaggregated information does not meet commissioner-established standards.
  • Requires the commissioner to attribute 55 percent of the performance evaluation to Domains 1-3, considering only the higher of Domain 1 (performance) or Domain 2 (growth). If the district/campus received an F in either domain, it cannot be assigned an overall rating higher than B.
  • Requires that if a district or campus receives a needs improvement/D rating overall or in a specific domain, it must implement a targeted improvement plan approved by the school board. If it receives an overall or (the same) domain performance rating of D for two consecutive school years after implementing the plan, the commissioner will assign an F rating for the following year overall or for the domain, as applicable (with some commissioner discretion depending on the district/campus performance).
  • Adds to current law regarding campus turnaround plans for struggling districts to require commissioner approval or rejection of a plan by June 15 of each year. If the plan is rejected, the district must modify the plan with assistance from TEA and resubmit within 60 days of the rejection.
  • Specifies that only districts with an overall rating of A-C can become a district of innovation.

NOTE: HB 22 provides that if HB 1500 passes, HB 1500 will not become law.

HB 1342 by Rep. Tan Parker / Sen. Bryan Hughes expands current law that requires child abuse antivictimization progams to require annual training for students designed to promote self-protection and prevent sexual abuse and trafficking.