The 85th Texas Legislature convened Jan. 10, 2017, for a 140-day session. With the exception of the four vetoed bills at the end of this document, all bills below have been signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. Generally, bills go into effect immediately or for the 2017-18 school year; exceptions are noted.

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 bill specific to 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. J.M. 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 that requires a campus intervention team to continue working with a campus that had been assigned an unacceptable rating even after the campus 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 granted to a traditional public school providing services to such students).

SB 825 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dan Huberty replaces the mandatory administration in 8th grade and 10th grade of a national preliminary college preparation assessment (such as PSAT), at state cost, by instead giving districts the option to administer such tests. 

SB 1005 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Charlie Geren is aimed at older students who have not yet completed their graduation requirements. It allows students who repeated grade 9 in 2011-12, and those who entered grade 10 or higher that year, to take the TAKS to meet their exit-level assessment requirements. These students could also meet the requirement by demonstrating satisfactory performance on the SAT or ACT, TSI or the current assessment instruments. TEA will not be required to administer TAKS tests after September 1, 2017.

SB 1353 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Wayne Faircloth ensures that when an academically unacceptable school district is closed and annexed to another district, the receiving district is entitled to additional funding for five years to help with the costs of facility renovation, repair and replacement.

SB 1843 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. César Blanco requires districts and charter schools to provide students in grades 10-12 an opportunity to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and consult with a military recruiter. (An exception is made for districts that offer a similar test that assesses aptitude for success in a career field that does not require postsecondary education.)

SB 1882 by Sen. José Menéndez / Rep. Linda Koop allows a school board to partner with a charter school governing body, or an entity eligible for a district-authorized charter, to operate a district campus, including as an alternative to intervention under the accountability statutes. A charter school for the three preceding school years must have received an acceptable rating and a satisfactory financial accountability rating and not have had its charter previously revoked; an entity considered for a district-authorized charter may not have previously operated a charter school in which the charter expired or was revoked. Before entering into a contract for operation of a campus, the district must consult with campus personnel regarding the provision that would be in the contract between the district and the charter school. For a campus receiving an unacceptable rating for the year prior to the contract with the charter school, the commissioner cannot impose a sanction or take action against the campus for failure to satisfy performance standards during the first two years of operation under the contract. The contract must also include a provision addressing student eligibility for enrollment, which must provide that any student in the attendance zone of the campus shall be admitted for enrollment; preference for non-resident students must prioritize other students in the district before students outside the district. Potentially provides additional funding for such campuses subject to a contract between the school district and a charter school under this statute.

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. José Menéndez 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 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.

SB 22 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Eddie Lucio III creates the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) program and advisory council. The council comprises representatives of school district and charter schools, higher education, and business/industry. The P-TECH program provides 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. 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 designation of a campus as a P-TECH school. (Begins with the 2018-19 school year.)

SB 2105 by Sen. Borris Miles / Rep. Jarvis Johnson requires the Texas Workforce Commission to provide TEA with disaggregated (by county or region) information regarding career and technical education partnerships with business and industry; and professional development opportunities for teachers and learning opportunities for students through industry mentorships, internships, summer programs, after-school programs and career-based student leadership opportunities.

Charter School Operations

SB 1177 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Linda Koop requires the SBOE to adopt procedures allowing a charter applicant that scores within five points of the minimum eligibility score to appeal to the SBOE so that its charter request can be considered by the commissioner. The decision on the appeal by the SBOE is final, and if the SBOE fails to issue a determination within 90 days of the request, the charter is ineligible for consideration.

SB 1480 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Jim Murphy provides charter schools with expanded access to the guaranteed bond program.

SB 1837 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Dwayne Bohac allows the commissioner of education to revise the financial accountability indicators for charter schools that are operated by a public institution of higher education to more accurately measure the financial performance of those particular types of charter schools.

Curriculum / Graduation Requirements

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.

SB 463 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Dan Huberty revises the law passed in 2015 that allows individual graduation committees (IGCs) to determine whether a student who has failed up to two end-of-course exams will be allowed to graduate. Extends the statute’s expiration date from 2017 to 2019. Provides for a retroactive determination of eligibility to graduate for certain students who entered ninth grade prior to the 2011-12 school year and were unable to graduate due to repeated failures to pass the required assessments (but otherwise completed the curriculum requirements for graduation). Requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to compile data on the post-graduation pursuits of students awarded a diploma via the IGC process.

SB 671 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Ryan Guillen requires SBOE to adopt criteria allowing a student to receive one languages-other-than-English credit by having completed a dual language immersion program in elementary school.

SB 826 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dan Huberty revises current law regarding the sequencing of math and English courses to remove the requirement that an advanced English course can only be taken after English I, II and III; and an advanced math course only after Algebra I and geometry.

SB 1873 by Sen. Juan Hinojosa / Rep. Terry Wilson requires the commissioner to report on physical education provided by school districts. The report must include the number of PE classes offered at each campus in the district (detailing the number of days, classes and minutes offered each week by each campus), the ratio of students enrolled in PE classes compared to overall enrollment, average PE class size, number of appropriately certified or licensed PE teachers in the district, whether each campus has adequate equipment and facilities to engage in the required amount and level of physical activity, whether the district provides modifications to meet the needs of students with disabilities, and whether the district allows teachers/administrators to withhold physical activity from a student as punishment.

SB 2039 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. Senfronia Thompson requires the commissioner to develop one or more modules on sexual abuse and sex trafficking for use in the health curriculum. The modules can include information on different forms of abuse and assault, trafficking, and risk factors for trafficking; procedures for reporting suspected abuse and trafficking; strategies for prevention and overcoming peer pressure; information on establishing healthy relationship boundaries and recognizing abusive relationships; avoiding high-risk activities; recruiting tactics (including via the Internet) of sex traffickers; legal aspects of abuse and trafficking; and the influence of culture and mass media on perceptions of abuse and trafficking. The module(s) must emphasize compassion for victims and the creation of a positive reentry experience for survivors into schools. Districts electing to use a module must notify parents and include a description of content along with a statement that parents have the right to review material and remove a student from the instruction. The bill also adds the subject of sex trafficking to the current law requiring districts to adopt a policy addressing sexual abuse and other maltreatment of children. Includes a provision that the act takes effect only if a specific appropriation is included in the state budget.

Discipline

HB 156 by Rep. Richard Raymond / Sen. Judith Zaffirini is a local 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 and those whose presence in the regular classroom would pose a threat to other students.

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.

HB 2880 by Rep. Harold Dutton / Sen. José Menéndez 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 possesses or has immediate access to the firearm (in which case it remains a third degree felony).

Health / 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 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.

SB 7 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt / Rep. Ken King expands the current laws that govern improper teacher/student relationships by extending them to cover inter-district relationships (an improper relationship between a teacher and a student of any age at any school). It expands reporting statutes to provide that failure on the part of a superintendent or principal to make required reports would be a Class A misdemeanor; if the person was found to have intentionally concealed an employee’s criminal record or an alleged incident of misconduct the failure to report would be a state jail felony. Schools must adopt a policy regarding electronic communications between employees and students; at TCTA’s initiative the policy must allow employees to opt out of disclosing their personal phone numbers or email addresses. Includes a provision to ensure that educators will receive instruction regarding proper methods for notifying administrators if a student initiates improper communications with the employees. Provides that employees who are convicted of felony misconduct offenses are ineligible to receive a TRS pension.

SB 30 by Sen. Royce West / Rep. Senfronia Thompson will be known as the Community Safety Education Act. It requires SBOE and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to jointly develop instruction, including curriculum and instructional modules, on proper interaction with peace officers during traffic stops and other encounters. The instruction must include roles/duties/responsibilities of peace officers, a person’s rights regarding interactions with peace officers, and proper behavior for both civilians and peace officers during interactions. It must also address the laws regarding questioning and detention, requests to present proof of ID and the failure to comply with those laws, as well as how/where to file a complaint or compliment regarding an interaction with a peace officer. School districts can tailor the instruction as appropriate for the community, and in doing so must solicit input from local law enforcement, driver training schools and the community. The instruction must be included in one or more courses in the required curriculum for students in grades 9-12. (The instruction and training program must be developed by September 2018, and the inclusion of the instruction in the required curriculum begins with the 2018-19 school year.)

SB 179 by Sen. José Menéndez / Rep. Ina Minjarez is known as David’s Law after a San Antonio student who took his life after vicious cyberbullying. The bill defines cyberbullying (“bullying that is done through the use of any electronic communication device…”) and adds it to existing bullying statutes, and tightens up related notification and reporting processes. It allows removal of a student to a DAEP or expulsion if the student engages in bullying that encourages a student to attempt suicide, incites violence against a student through group bullying, or releases or threatens to release intimate visual material of a student without consent. The bill provides the opportunity for injunctive relief for a victim of cyberbullying, and raises the offense of “harassment” to a Class A misdemeanor if it was committed via electronic communication against a child with the intent to cause injury or suicide. It also includes provisions providing support for students with mental health needs.

SB 195 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia / Rep. Alma Allen revises current law that allows districts to receive additional transportation funding to transport students living within two miles of the school who would be subject to hazardous traffic conditions if they walked. The amended statute also extends the additional funding to students who would face a high risk of violence walking to school, and allows the district to use all or part of the funds to support community walking transportation programs.

SB 489 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. / Rep. Carol Alvarado adds e-cigarette prevention to the issues addressed by local school health advisory councils.

SB 1553 by Sen. José Menéndez / Rep. Diego Bernal requires that a registered sex offender entering the premises of a school during regular operating hours immediately notify the administrative office of his/her presence and registration status. The office can provide a chaperone to accompany the person while on school property. The requirement does not apply to a student or to a person who has entered into a written agreement with the school that includes an exemption from the requirement. Revises current law regarding refusal of entry to or ejection from a school to allow a school administrator, school resource office or school district peace officer to refuse to allow a person on property or to eject a person if the person refuses to leave on request and to implement such a ban for up to two years, if the person poses a substantial risk of harm to another person or behaves in a manner inappropriate for a school setting after being warned. Districts must maintain a record of verbal warnings issued. If a parent/guardian is refused entry to district property, the district must accommodate the parent to ensure that the parent may still participate if the child’s ARD committee or Section 504 team, if applicable.

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 Sept. 1, 2018.)

HB 2937 by Rep. Terry Canales / Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. is limited to a hospital located in Hidalgo County. It 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.

SB 49 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. Ryan Guillen revises the current Texas Armed Services Scholarship program to provide for the appointment of alternates in addition to the appointed students. If an appointed student fails to initially meet eligibility or otherwise meet the requirements to initially receive the scholarship, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will notify the alternate of their nomination.

SB 802 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Donna Howard requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study to identify best practices in ensuring that courses transferred to an institution of higher education — including dual credit courses — apply toward a degree program at the institution. The study will evaluate existing articulation agreements and identify institutions that are implementing best practices.

SB 1091 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Donna Howard limits the courses that can be offered for dual credit to those that are in the core curriculum of the institution of higher education, a CTE course, or a foreign language course. Exempts from this provision a dual credit course offered as part of the early college education program.

Instructional Materials

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.

SB 801 by Sen. Kel Seliger / Rep. Ken King expands current law regarding the instructional material list adopted by the SBOE to require that all materials be suitable for the subject and grade level for which they were submitted and be reviewed by academic experts in the appropriate subject and grade level. Applies to materials adopted on or after Sept. 1, 2017.

SB 1784 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dan Huberty clarifies the definition of “open-source instructional material” to refer to resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use, including courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, videos tests, software and other materials used to support access to knowledge. Allows the purchase of content not owned by the state if the content is in the public domain; can be used under a limitation/exception to copyright law; or is licensed to the state under a license that grants unlimited authority to the state to modify content, permits the free use of the material by anybody, and is for a term of use acceptable to the commissioner to ensure a useful life of the material.

Foster and Homeless Students

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.

SB 490 by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. / Rep. Dan Huberty adds to the responsibilities of school counselors providing information on the availability of education and training vouchers and tuition/fee waivers for higher education for students in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services. The counselor must report to the student and parent/guardian the number of times the counselor has provided the information to the student. Adds a requirement that a school district’s annual report must include the number of counselors providing counseling services at each school. Adds reporting requirements regarding the availability of school counselors at each campus to PEIMS.

SB 1220 by Sen. Borris Miles / Rep. Hubert Vo provides additional services to homeless and foster care youth. It requires TEA to assist in the transition of such students from one school to another by ensuring that the new school relies on decisions made by the previous school regarding placement in particular courses or educational programs. The new school must provide comparable special education services, if applicable, until the new school develops an IEP for the student. The bill also requires the Department of Family and Protective Services to collaborate with schools and other relevant entities to create a program that assists foster care youth in earning a high school diploma or GED as well as industry certifications for high demand occupations, provides career guidance, and informs such students about the availability of tuition and fee waivers for institutions of 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. Armando 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 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 Arévalo / 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 Nevárez / 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.

SB 693 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia / Rep. Dade Phelan expands the types of vehicles that must meet the three-point seat belt requirement for school buses to include a multifunction school activity bus or a school-chartered bus. The bill eliminates the current-law provision that the requirement does not have to be complied with if the legislature did not appropriate funding to reimburse districts for the costs of compliance. Instead, the requirement was shifted to apply only to new vehicles (model year 2018 or later) with an exception if the school board determines that the district’s finances would not support the purchase of a bus with three-point seat belts (as long as the determination was voted on in a public hearing).

SB 725 by Sen. Borris Miles / Rep. Diego Bernal provides that a district can allow a campus to donate food to a nonprofit organization, through an official of the organization who is directly affiliated with the campus (teacher or parent, for example). The donated food can be received, stored and distributed on campus. Donated food can include surplus food prepared for school meals to be served in the cafeteria or food donated to the campus through a food drive or similar event. The district can adopt a policy under which the school provides food at no cost if the student is unable to purchase a meal or snack.

SB 754 by Sen. Charles Perry / Rep. Ken King allows a district and its depository bank to agree to extend their contract for three (current law allows two) additional two-year terms. Allows the contract to be modified for each two-year extension if both parties agree.

SB 1152 by Sen. José Menéndez / Rep. Justin Rodriguez requires districts to excuse an absence up to four days for a student at least age 17 pursuing enlistment in the armed services.

SB 1404 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Trent Ashby requires districts and charter schools to report through PEIMS regarding the availability of expanded learning opportunities (extended school day, extended school year, after-school learning program) and the number of students participating in each category of expanded learning opportunities.

SB 1566 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst / Rep. Ken King includes several provisions regarding school district and charter school powers and duties:

  • Provides that a school board may require the chief business official or curriculum director (or their equivalent) to appear at an executive session of the board or testify at a public hearing of the board; a superintendent may not interfere with such an appearance.
  • Provides that in responding to a school board member’s request for information, the district must provide the information no later than the 20th business day after receiving the request, with up to 30 additional business days to comply if compliance with the 20-day requirement would be unduly burdensome. If these timelines are not met, the trustee can sue the district for injunctive relief. If the trustee prevails in the suit, court costs and attorney’s fees must be paid from the superintendent’s office budget.
  • Specifies that school boards are to provide oversight regarding student academic achievement and strategic leadership for maximizing student performance.
  • Provides that if requested by a school board, TEA must create a website that the trustees can use to review campus/district academic achievement data. The website must include disaggregated data including student academic achievement and growth, teacher and student attendance, and student discipline records.
  • Requires that a district post minutes reflecting a trustee’s lack of required training hours if the deficiency exists for more than a year; the posting will be continued until the trustee meets the requirements. Trustees must complete at least three hours of training every two years on evaluating student academic performance, and new trustees must complete the required hours within the first 120 days of holding office.
  • Requires the commissioner to develop a board of trustees improvement and evaluation tool to assist districts in improving board oversight and academic achievement. Boards may determine whether to use the tool, except that the commissioner may order a district to use the tool as one of the available sanctions for failing to satisfy accountability standards regarding high school completion rates.
  • Requires Districts of Innovation to post the current DOI plan on the district’s website, and to within 15 days of adoption send a new or revised plan to TEA, which must promptly post the plan on the TEA website. (TCTA provision)
  • Requires school boards to adopt a policy that allows a principal to provide access for “patriotic societies” that are a youth membership organization (such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts) to speak to students during school hours about membership in the society. The policy must allow the principal to limit such access to a patriotic society to a single school day and to limit presentations to ten minutes.
  • Revises the current law that requires school boards to address all complaints under a grievance procedure to provide an exception so that boards are not required to address complaints about a student’s participation in an extracurricular activity (unless it involves a violation of rights or a claim regarding special education).
  • Requires districts and charter schools with high dropout rates to design a dropout recovery plan that includes CTE courses or technology applications courses that lead to industry or career certification, integrate research-based strategies to help students become academically able to pursue postsecondary education, and plan to offer advanced academic and transition opportunities including dual credit and college prep (such as AP) courses.
  • Allows school boards to operate before- and/or after-school programs for elementary or middle school students. Eligible students include private school students and other students residing within the district boundaries. The district must first conduct a request for proposals (RFP) process to determine if it would be in the district’s best interests to contract with a child-care facility; after the RFP process the district may contract with a child care facility or operate a program itself.
  • Requires school boards (rather than the current law “school district”) to adopt the grace period policy regarding unpaid meal accounts.
  • Provides that a district or charter school cannot prohibit a person (specifically including a school employee) who holds a handgun license from transporting or storing a gun or ammunition in a locked private vehicle in a school parking area as long as it is not in plain view.
  • Requires school boards to adopt a policy requiring a school nurse who becomes aware that a student has lice to provide written or electronic notice to the parent of the child as soon as possible (no more than 48 hours) and to the parents of children in the same classroom within five days. The notice must include information about treatment and prevention and the notice to other parents may not identify the child with lice.
  • Establishes a “sunset” provision for the Dallas County board of education, board of trustees and school superintendent; continuation of each will have to be approved at a November 2017 election by voters. If continuation is not approved, the board will be abolished, with a dissolution committee appointed by the state comptroller to be responsible for financial decisions related to the abolishment. At the end of the 2017-18 school year, all school buses, vehicles and bus service centers will be transferred to participating school districts in proportionate shares. Dallas ISD will have the right of first refusal to buy the administrative building.

SB 1901 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Rep. Dan Huberty requires the governor to designate a day to be known as Texas Military Heroes Day, to include appropriate relevant instruction in the public schools.

SB 2084 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Dwayne Bohac requires the commissioner to devise a calculation for districts to use in determining average daily attendance for students in blended learning programs, including internships, externships and apprenticeships.

Special Education

HB 657 by Rep. Diego Bernal / Sen. José Menéndez 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 González / Sen. José Menéndez 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. José Menéndez 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. José 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.

SB 160 by Sen. José Rodriguez / Rep. Gene Wu prohibits TEA and the commissioner from adopting or implementing a performance indicator that measures a district’s or charter school’s aggregated number or percentage of enrolled students receiving special education services.

SB 436 by Sen. José Rodriguez / Rep. Tomas Uresti requires that meetings of the special education continuing advisory committee be conducted in compliance with the open meetings act, and that the committee must provide a procedure for members of the public to speak at committee meetings. TEA must post information on the TEA website that includes contact information for the committee, meeting notices and minutes, and guidelines for submitting public comments. The committee must develop a policy for encouraging public participation.

SB 748 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. Alma Allen expands involvement in a special education student’s transition planning to include not only parents (as in current law) but others invited to participate by either the parents or the school district. Specifies that in considering an 18+-year old student’s age-appropriate instructional environment, the ARD committee is to consider community settings or environments that prepare the student for postsecondary education or training, competitive integrated employment or independent living. Other issues newly-included for ARD consideration are referrals for public benefits, the use/availability of appropriate supplementary aids/services/curricula to assist the student in developing decision-making skills, and supports and services to foster independence and self-determination. The ARD committee must review such issues annually and update the IEP as necessary. Requires that the transition and employment guide developed by TEA be written in plain language. Requires districts to provide notice to the student and parent by the student’s 17th birthday regarding the transfer of rights from parent to child as well as information and resources regarding guardianship, alternatives to guardianship and other supports that may help the student live independently. (Goes into effect beginning with the 2018-19 school year.)

SB 1153 by Sen. José Menéndez / Rep. Dan Huberty expands information provided to parents regarding strategies being used with students who may have a learning disability. It ensures that parents are entitled to access to records relating to assistance provided for learning difficulties, including information regarding intervention strategies (which may include response to intervention and other early intervening strategies). Expands the current law that requires TEA to provide information regarding parents entitled to request an evaluation for special education services to also include requests for aids, accommodations or services under Section 504. Districts must notify parents of a child not in special education programs who is receiving assistance for learning difficulties that the child is receive such assistance; the notice must be provided when the child begins to receive assistance each year and must include information regarding the types of strategies used and estimated time frames for providing a progress report to parents. Districts must report via PEIMS the number of students receiving intervention strategies and Section 504 services.

SB 1398 by Sen. Eddie Lucio / Rep. Senfronia Thompson addresses problematic issues with the 2015 bill that authorized the placement of video cameras in self-contained special education classrooms. The bill narrows the scope of the statute to reflect its original intent — that the cameras are only to be placed in the classrooms that are specifically requested, and only for the year for which the request was made (unless the request is subsequently renewed). It specifies that the equipment is required to be placed only in classrooms or settings in which the requesting parent’s child is in regular attendance, or if requested by a staff member, in the setting to which the staff person is assigned. It further clarifies that a parent can request cameras at the school at which their child receives services; a school board can request cameras at one or more specified schools; a principal or assistant principal can request cameras at his/her school; and a staff member assigned to work with special education students in a self-contained classroom can request cameras at his/her school. Provides that the inside of a bathroom or any area in which a student’s clothes are changed may not be visually monitored except for incidental coverage of a small section of the room due to the layout of the room. Provides that a video camera placed in a classroom is not required to be in operation for the time during which students are not present in the classroom. Provides details and timelines for how the district must address requests for placement and operation of cameras, requests for release and review of videos, and appeals.

SB 2080 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Ryan Guillen requires districts and charter schools to report in PEIMS the number of children with disabilities residing in a residential facility who are required to be tracked by PEIMS and receive educational services from the district/charter school.

SB 2141 by Sen. Larry Taylor / Rep. Donna Howard requires that if a special education representative receives compensation for representing a student in an impartial due process hearing, the representative must agree to abide by a voluntary code of ethics and professional conduct during the period of representation. The representative must also enter into a written agreement with the person who is the subject of the hearing that includes a process for resolving any disputes between the representative and the person. The agreement is confidential and may not be disclosed.

Special Programs

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.

SB 276 by Sen. Kirk Watson / Rep. Tan Parker revises current statutes relating to the adult high school diploma and industry certification charter school pilot program by eliminating the cap on the program of 150 students. It also revises reporting requirements, ensuring that appropriate metrics for an adult education program such as student salaries and enrollment in higher education are included. Funding for the program in the amount of $165,128 for FY 2018 and $363,280 for FY 2019 was included in the state budget.

SB 587 by Sen. Donna Campbell / Gary VanDeaver adds dependents of members of the US military deployed or transferred to Texas who were previously enrolled in public school in another state to the students who are eligible to enroll full-time in virtual school. Deletes the current-law provision that the commissioner must contract with an education service center to operate the virtual school network, to reflect a cost decision in the budget negotiation process that TEA will operate the network itself for a $4 million savings.

SB 1318 by Sen. Van Taylor / Rep. Tan Parker allows the commissioner to designate a campus (upon application by the district) as a mathematics innovation zone and award a grant to support implementation of innovative math instruction at the campus. The total grant amount during the upcoming biennium can be no more than $12.5 million. The commissioner will approve specific programs and adopt objectives, metrics and other requirements with which the campus must comply. A mathematics innovation zone campus is not subject to interventions under the accountability system for the first two years of its designation if it is meeting the requirements of the grant to the satisfaction of the commissioner. A district can use a “pay for success” program approved by the commissioner under which payments via a private investor are based on achievement of measurable outcomes; such a program may also involve an outside education service provider and/or a third-party evaluator.

Teacher Certification / Preparation

HB 1469 by Rep. Ernest Bailes / Sen. Charles Schwertner is specific to 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. Requires SBEC to issue a 3-year temporary certificate to such eligible educators while they pursue a standard certificate. Includes a provision allowing SBEC not to implement the bill if no specific funding for the bill is 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.

SB 1839 by Sen. Bryan Hughes / Rep. Linda Koop requires TEA to provide educator preparation programs with PEIMS data that enables them to assess and improve their programs. TEA and SBOE will solicit input from the preparation programs to determine the data that will be provided. Provides that academic qualifications for a certificate that requires a bachelor’s degree must require training in digital learning, including a digital literacy evaluation. Provides that rules addressing ongoing support for a candidate seeking certification for a certification class other than classroom teacher cannot require that the preparation program conduct formal observations onsite in a face-to-face setting; observations must be permitted onsite or through use of video or other technology. Includes provisions from HB 2039 establishing an EC-3 early childhood certificate. Allows a candidate for certification to satisfy up to 15 hours of field-based experience by serving as a long-term substitute teacher (this experience may occur after admission to a program or in the two preceding years). Allows the commissioner to establish exceptions to the examination requirements for an out-of-state educator to obtain a Texas certificate.

SB 1963 by Sen. Brandon Creighton / Rep. Dade Phelan provides that rules addressing ongoing support for certification candidates may not require that a preparation program conduct formal observations onsite in a face-to-face setting. Observations may occur onsite or through use of video or other technology (same provision included in SB 1839).

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.

SB 55 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini / Rep. J. D. Sheffield requires TRS and ERS to study costs and benefits of establishing a patient-reported outcomes registry for musculoskeletal care provided through their health plans.

SB 507 by Sen. Kelly Hancock / Rep. John Frullo adds participants of TRS-Care, TRS-ActiveCare and the state employee plan to laws that provide dispute resolution services for out-of-network health benefit claims. Makes other revisions to the existing laws, including requirements for providing notice to enrollees of the mediation process, and a prohibition on a person who has been in a business relationship with a health care practitioner or provider in the previous three years serving as a mediator.

SB 1663 by Sen. Joan Huffman / Rep. Dan Flynn makes primarily administrative/technical revisions to TRS-related laws. Of interest is a provision clarifying whether a retiree is “employed” by a district for purposes of determining whether the retiree has sat out for 12 consecutive calendar months before returning to work – the provision says that a retiree is considered employed if the retiree is performing services that an employee would otherwise perform and either waives/defers compensation, performs the duties as an independent contractor, or performs as a volunteer the same services the retiree performed prior to retirement. The bill also removes a current provision that prohibits a TRS member who received a refund of payments made to establish special service credit from using installment payments or payroll deduction to purchase the same service credit.

SB 1664 by Sen. Joan Huffman / Rep. Dan Flynn is another TRS administrative bill that includes provisions slightly extending the deadlines for members to purchase service credit upon retirement; and provisions requiring that payment for the purchase of credit based on unused leave be received within 90 days of when the employee receives a cost statement (with a potential 30-day extension under certain circumstances), with annuity payments not starting until payment is received.

SB 1665 by Sen. Joan Huffman / Rep. Dan Flynn makes administrative and technical changes regarding TRS investment authority. Includes a provision making permanent the ability of the TRS Board to delegate investment authority to external managers of up to 30 percent of the assets of the pension fund.

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.

SB 196 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia / Rep. Garnet Coleman requires schools that do not have a full-time nurse, counselor or librarian assigned to be at the school for more than 30 consecutive instructional days to provide written notice to parents. Provides for the “equivalent” of a full-time nurse/counselor/librarian to be two or more such employees assigned to a school with all regular instructional hours covered. Districts/charters with fewer than 10,000 students are exempted from the requirement.

Copyright Texas Classroom Teachers Association • June 2017