HISD trustees heard a detailed update Thursday of dozens of new laws from the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, but the focus was on one new measure – House Bill 5 – that will make huge changes in Texas graduation requirements beginning with current ninth- and 10th-graders.
The session was presented by HISD counsel David Thompson, who serves as one of the district’s legislative liaisons.
HB 5 reduces the number of STAAR end-of-course exams that must be passed for graduation from 15 to 5 and requires students to select a personal graduation plan between a basic “foundation” course of study and a more rigorous “distinguished” diploma that increases their chances for admission to four-year Texas public universities and state grants.
Graduation plans will be developed with parents and school support and are designed to promote readiness for college and careers.
Starting next May, eighth-graders will also be required to select “endorsements” – areas of focus that will enrich their studies and focus. Endorsement choices include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, and Multidisciplinary Studies.
Students on a distinguished graduation plan will be required to pass foundation course work, plus an endorsement, and must earn an Algebra II credit.
Thompson also told trustees that a new state school rating system will go into effect that uses grades – A,B, C, D, and F – to evaluate district on three categories, rather than the current “meets/does not meet” standards criteria. Districts will now be evaluated on academic and financial performance, as well as community and student engagement.
For resources on changes in STAAR and the impact of HB 5 on HISD schools, visit http://www.houstonisd.org/staar.