HB 3906

Status: Sent to governor
Author: Rep. Dan Huberty 
Sponsor: Sen. Larry Taylor
Summary: Adds a statement to law that it is the state's policy that the statewide assessment program be designed to provide tests that are as short as practicable and minimize the disruption to the educational program.

Deletes standalone writing tests.

Deletes the provision that specifies that 3-7 math testing must be assessed without the aid of technology, and 8th grade math with the aid of technology if it includes algebra, and instead allows the SBOE to designate sections of a math assessment for a grade level that may or may not be completed with the aid of technology.

Revises current law regarding the length of tests to allow an assessment to have up to three parts and specifies the allowable length of a part of a test. A part must be designed so that for students in grades 3-4, 85% can complete the part within 60 minutes, and in grades 5-8, 85% can complete the part in 75 minutes. The parts can be administered over more than one day. Those changes do not apply for a grade level if as a result of the time restriction the assessment instrument no longer complies with federal law or no longer is valid and reliable based on the findings of the advisory committee; they also do not apply to a classroom portfolio method used to assess writing.

An assessment instrument cannot be administered to a kindergarten student except for the purpose of determining whether the student is entitled to the benefits of the Foundation School Program (this applies to a student under age 5 who passes the 3rd grade STAAR tests). Specifies that a classroom portfolio method for writing may require a teacher to prepare tasks and materials. Specifies that the Algebra I end-of-course (EOC) may include one or more parts that prohibit the use of technology. Removes current language requiring that the English I and English II EOCs assess TEKS in both reading and writing in the same assessment instrument.

Provides that an EOC can be administered in multiple parts over more than one day. Provides that, except for a writing portfolio assessment, SBOE must ensure that tests are not administered on the first instructional day of a week; removes current law requirements regarding the specific weeks in which the tests must be scheduled. Provides that beginning with 2022-23, an assessment may not present more than 75% of the questions in a multiple choice format. (It appears that in combination with other provisions of the bill, the intent is that STAAR tests will include short answer responses as a new way of assessing writing performance.)

TEA must develop optional electronic assessment instruments for each subject and grade level, which will not be used for accountability purposes.

Requires the commissioner to appoint a technical advisory committee regarding the development of valid and reliable tests; the members must be experts on educational assessments and psychometrics. The commissioner will also appoint an educator advisory committee, to include experts in curriculum and instruction, to advise regarding the development of academically appropriate assessments.

Requires TEA to develop a transition plan to administer all assessments electronically no later than 2022-23. The plan must evaluate the availability of Internet access for every district, identify changes in law/policy necessary to improve such availability, evaluate the state's experience with administering online assessments, including power outages or other disruptions and actions that were taken to mitigate the occurrence/effect of those disruptions, and identify and evaluate actions taken by the state to improve the administration of online assessment instruments.

The transition to electronic assessments must be implemented beginning Sep. 1, 2021. By Dec. 1, 2020, TEA must submit to the legislature a report on the plan, including the information gathered from districts regarding their needs in transitioning to electronic assessments, any recommended changes to law, and a recommended timeline for statewide implementation of electronic administration.

TEA will create a pilot program for integrated formative assessment instruments for currently-tested grades or subjects, and will report to the legislature regarding whether the pilot improved instructional support and whether it would be feasible to replace current assessments with integrated formative assessments.

Ensures that a preK assessment cannot be used for accountability purposes.

Requires districts to allow students who are in courses that require a graphing calculator to use a calculator app (e.g., on a phone or tablet), unless the district makes available a graphing calculator at no cost to the student.

TEA may not use more than $5 million to implement these new provisions.

(Click here to return to the 2019 session bill summary page.)