Education Highlights of Last Legislative Session

From State Representative Dan Huberty’s newsletter, I gleaned these highlights from the last legislative session.

Relating to public school accountability

“Last week, the House finally passed House Bill (HB) 22, which makes changes to the public school accountability system. Chairman Huberty worked hard with all interested parties to craft this legislation and is proud of the final product approved by both chambers and now headed to Governor Abbott for his approval.

Under the conference committee report, districts will be evaluated using the state A-F system, which will have three domains:

  • Student Achievement
  • Student Progress
  • Closing the Gap

The Student Achievement domain measures student performance and includes:

  • STAAR results
  • Graduation rates (HS)
  • SAT/ACT/TSIA, AP/IB, Dual Credit (HS)
  • Industry Certifications (HS)
  • Military Enlistment (HS)
  • Postsecondary readiness metrics (HS)
  • Associates Degrees (HS)
  • OnRamps courses (HS).

The School Progress domain:

  • Counts students who grow from one year to the next on the STAAR, even if they fail the assessment
  • Requires that even top-achieving students are credited for growth if they maintain performance
  • Rewards schools for doing well relative to campuses with similar student demographics.

The Closing the Gap domain:

  • Highlights student performance based upon indicators such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status
  • Special education status, and limited English proficiency
  • Requires the performance of former special education students to be tracked

The state system will go into effect (and districts will receive their first ratings under the system) in August 2018. Campuses will either by evaluated under the default state system, or, if the district chooses, under a local accountability system developed by the district.

A locally developed accountability system:

  • Must meet minimum standards set by the Commissioner
  • Must use the 3 domains included in the state system
  • Can incorporate new domains based on local data and district decision
  • Will require districts to assign an overall A-F grade to each campus based on the 3 state domains plus any locally chosen domains, with the 3 state domains together equaling at least 50% of the total weight
  • Must be approved by a peer review committee of primarily superintendents & board members from other districts who already operate an approved local system.

The first campus ratings under this system will be released in August 2019, with a model run report by TEA due to the legislature in January 2019.

Compared to the version of the bill passed by the House, the conference committee report retains the following:

  • Reduces 5 domains to 3 domains
  • STAAR scores account for less than 50% of accountability metrics for high schools, and could be reduced further if extracurricular indicators are found to be feasible
  • Differentiates interventions between D & F ratings
  • Delays implementation for campuses, with a model run in January 2019
  • Removes the use of attendance as a metric.

The conference committee report also includes the following:

  • Provides progressive district and state level interventions for campuses that receive “D” ratings
  • Provides an overall rating for campuses and districts, in addition to separate domain ratings
  • Requires TEA to build out the ability to track extra-curricular participation for possible use in the accountability system by 2022.”

Re: Public Education Funding

  • “Maintains full funding of enrollment growth.
  • Additional $75 million for districts experiencing rapid property value decreases (overlaps with ASATR districts)
  • Maintains $47.5 million for the New Instructional Facilities Allotment
  • Provides $25 million for E-Rate, which will bring high-speed broadband to public schools; an additional $1m is provided to public libraries for this same purpose.
  • $1.6 billion in prekindergarten funding, with $236 million going to districts implementing high-quality pre-K
  • TRS-Care – two-year solvency fix paid for with changes in HB 3976 and $350m payment.”