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The House committee substitute for the SB 8 voucher bill is 80 pages in length and has not been vetted with testimony through the House Public Education Committee. One misconception about the substitute language is that it gets rid of the STAAR and reduces testing. This is not true. Please see the points below, which explain the bill’s new testing requirements. It is our understanding that House Public Education Chairman Buckley still plans to vote this bill out of committee in a floor meeting, at which public testimony is not permitted.

Short History of Texas Assessment

  • SB 103 in 1999 established an 11th grade exit-level exam, which was not effective because it assessed material long after students learned it.
  • SB 1031 in 2007 replaced exit-level exams with end-of-course (EOC) exams. TEA implemented the law as 15 separate EOC exams that students had to pass to graduate.
  • Texas mothers protested the excessive amount of testing and established Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA), leading to critical improvements in the state assessment system with the adoption of HB 5 in 2013. It reduced the number of EOC exams from 15 to five.
  • In 2019, the Senate substitute for HB 3906 required all-online state assessment, which was implemented this year.

 The testing provisions in the House substitute for SB 8 do the following:

  • Maintain the STAAR provisions for students in grades 3-8, minus the eighth-grade social studies exam
  • Add three testing events for grades 3-8 STAAR with mandatory through-year testing unless otherwise provided by commissioner rule
  • Add an 11th grade exam covering ELA and math
  • Increase the number of high school exams from five to six (biology and U.S. History content specific exams, the 9th and 11th grade ELA and math TSIA exams)
  • Add more testing for 11th grade students who are also taking additional college entrance exams
  • Raise the stakes of the already high-stakes A-F accountability system only for ISDs, not for the private schools that voucher recipients will attend (as private schools are not subject to state ratings)
  • Provide that high school EOC exams won’t be required for graduation
  • Provide that new TSIA exams will be required for college course placement – and TEA, rather than the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, will determine which exam and score is appropriate for determining if a college freshman must take developmental education
  • Make a long-term impact on a student’s future with this required-placement consequence and could create more negative consequences than the current requirement to pass five EOC exams. Students still would be able to avoid this consequence with high enough scores on ACT or SAT under Education Code Chapter 51.
  • Limit retakes to only after high school graduation, even though students make college-attendance decisions before graduation
  • Lack a thought-out transition plan or timeline for students
  • Remove all State Board of Education involvement in the state assessment program