About 30 school superintendents from Region V, which includes those in Orange County, recently attended a meeting with the representative of the State Board of Education, David Bradley, to discuss how HB5 will be implemented in the 20013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

According to Mike King, Bridge City Superintendent, Bradley was very receptive and asked questions of the educators as well.

“It was a very good meeting,” King said. “It was a good beginning to establishing some dialogue.”

It will be up to the Texas State Board of Education to determine how the newly signed law, HB5, will be implemented.

“We met because the State Board is going to take up the task of implementing HB5,” King said. ‘We are very optimistic.”

HB5 was signed by Governor Rick Perry in June which isn’t much time to get things ready for the upcoming school year.

“HB5 is an excellent bill, but it is broad and sweeping,” King said.

The comprehensive legislation changes testing and reduces the number of state tests from 15 to 5, graduation requirements, and the state accountability system.

Although there are many facets to the bill some points include;

End-of-course exams required for graduation now include a ELA I and ELA II which is reading and writing assessed together, producing a single score. In addition, algebra 1, biology and U.S. history.

HB5 amends current law to add tests which measure growth to the tests the Texas Education Association  must develop for special education students for whom a state test is not an appropriate measure of these students’ achievement.

In addition, the use of test scores is prohibited to measure the student’s performance on an EOC in determining class rank for any purpose or as the sole criteria in determining whether to admit the student to an institution of higher education. It also eliminates the requirement for student performance on EOCs which must account for 15 percent of the student’s course grade. In addition, it eliminates the cumulative scoring requirement on EOCs  but instead provides for a 100-point scale scoring system.

HB5 prohibits a school district from administering more than two district-required benchmark tests in any tested subject unless a parent of a student with special needs requests more.

In the classroom, HB5 requires school districts to make an Algebra II  course available to every high school student in the district.

High school personal graduation plans: adds a new section to the law requiring TEA to prepare and make available to each school district information which explains the advantages of the distinguished level of achievement and each endorsement, including enabling the student to rank in the top 10%; and encouraging parents to have the student choose these high school graduation plans. Requires the principal to designate a school counselor or school administrator to review personal graduation plan options with students entering ninth grade together with the student’s parent or guardian. Before the end of the school year, the student and their parents must confirm and sign a personal graduation plan. A student can change personal graduation plans but if so, the school shall send written notice to the parents.

Area educators have also wanted something done on accountability and they got their wish. HB5 adds the following to current indicators of student achievement. Current indicators are student performance on state assessments, dropout rates, and high school graduation rates.

The new law allows for the percentage of students who successfully complete the curriculum requirements for the distinguished level of achievement under the foundation high school program and for an endorsement allow the percentage of students who satisfy the Texas Success Initiative college readiness benchmarks in reading, writing or math, or the number of students who earn a at least 12 dual credit hours as part of the foundation high school program or an endorsement; at least 30 dual credit hours as part of the foundation high school program or an endorsement, an associate’s degree; or industry certification.  A new student achievement indicator is the percentage of students successfully completing an endorsement.

In addition, the law prohibits the use of the above indicators to negatively affect a district or campus accountability rating if the indicators measure improvement in student achievement but the district or campus is a already achieving at the highest level for that indicator.

The bill is supported throughout the state, but the complicated intricate wording will have to be put into action. Area superintendents have planned to have other meeting in the near future.

For more information on HB5, it is available at  www.legis.state.tx.us.