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New term (and new standards) for your HISD lexicon: learn all about ‘HB 5’

2014 February 20
by HISD Communications

This may be the first time you’ve heard of “HB 5,” but I can assure you that it won’t be the last.

House Bill 5 is a package of education regulations passed by the Texas Legislature in its last session. We’ve seen some changes already this year – mainly affecting STAAR testing requirements that reduce the number of end-of-course exams needed to graduate from 15 to five. But it’s starting this spring that eighth-graders (the Class of 2018, for the record) will have to start considering some interesting decisions about their paths to graduation.

Simply put, HB 5 will require each incoming ninth-grader to select an academic plan, as well as “endorsements” – areas of focus. Those are business and industry, arts and humanities, public service; science, technology, engineering, and math; and a multidisciplinary option.

It’s only been a couple weeks since final details came down from the State Board of Education – and even now, some matters remain to be worked out. But HISD was prepared.

Just this week, the Board of Education was presented with a thorough plan from the administration, along with recommendations – to which the board is very receptive – that when districts are allowed choices between rigor and an easier pathway, HISD will choose rigor.

That means the “default” graduation plan will require a “Distinguished Level of Achievement” that includes the basic Foundation Plan of 22 academic credits, along with at least one endorsement which will add four credits. We’re also recommending four math credits, which must include Algebra II, and four science credits, which must include one advanced course. Students who struggle have a chance – with their parents’ approval – to opt out and get on the Foundation plan after their sophomore year.

You have an easy opportunity to start getting acquainted with HB 5 and to ask questions by visiting our new “Plan Your Path” website for parents and students at’ll want to bookmark this and refer back often, since HB 5 is still something of a work-in-progress.

And there’s more. Parents of eighth-graders will receive an extensive mailer by the end of this month. We’ve also developed a multimedia toolkit and training for our principals, and parent leaders to be held soon, as well as a series of community meetings – one in each trustee district and one at HISD headquarters – that will be held in March.

Individual high schools will have information on their websites about their “endorsements” and specific courses in time for youngsters and their families to make decisions about where would be the best fit for their academic and career goals.

Most of the work in evaluating and choosing pathways will be performed online through Naviance, and you’ll be made aware by your campus of when that is activated.

I’m proud of the way Team HISD has pulled together to make this daunting transition as painless – and exciting – as possible. While HB 5 may be a tough transition for some school systems, our vast school choice options and move toward Linked Learning – uniting academic and career readiness – make HB 5 a logical fit for HISD.

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