Across the Lawn – April 21, 2023

April 21, 2023  

Across the Lawn Thumbnail Image

Raise Your Hand Texas has a front-row seat to the Capitol. From our vantage point, public education policy issues have never been more important, and this is why we must make every session a public education session.

ONE Thing to Do: 

Tell the Texas House Texans Oppose Vouchers

The Texas House is under extreme pressure to advance voucher legislation, also known as education savings accounts (ESAs). For decades, Texas lawmakers have rejected private school voucher schemes, which would send public tax dollars to private schools and other vendors.

Take action now by telling your legislators vouchers are coupons for wealthy families that drain money from public schools and force government accountability on private schools. Raise Your Hand Texas has made this process EASY for you. Send an email to your representative with the click of a button!

FIVE Things to Know:

1. Four Years of Data Reveal Texans’ Doubts About STAAR

For the last four years, the Charles Butt Foundation has polled Texans and Texas teachers on their perceptions of the public education system and the teaching profession. On April 17, the Charles Butt Foundation released a report synthesizing their findings relating to Texans’ perception of the STAAR test. The report pulls information from all seven of their previous polls, which were conducted between 2020 and 2023. They find that Texans question the STAAR test as an accurate reflection of student learning, and also see the STAAR test as a challenge and barrier for teachers. Ultimately, Texans prefer a variety of factors, beyond the results of one test, to determine A-F accountability ratings for school districts and campuses. Read the full report here. 

2. House Public Education Committee Hears School Accountability Bills

On Thursday, the Texas House Committee on Public Education heard HB 4402 (Bell, K.) and HB 4514 (Allison). Both bills improve the public school assessment and accountability system by limiting the effect of STAAR tests on school district and campus A-F ratings. The bills also add new non-STAAR indicators to the A-F rating calculations in order to paint a more holistic picture of school quality. 

Today, Friday, April 21, HB 4402 was voted out favorably from the Texas House Commitee on Public Education. The bill now moves to the Calendars Committee, where members of that committee will schedule a date for the entire House of Representatives to vote on the bill. 

Here are some key provisions of each bill:

Committee Substitute HB 4402:

  • Adds three new non-test indicators: Extra- and co-curricular success, parent and student satisfaction, and participation in middle school accelerated math
  • Prohibits STAAR scores from accounting for more than 80% of elementary and middle school accountability ratings
  • Formalizes through-year assessments starting in 2027-28 school year
  • ISDs may offer the STAAR tests in paper format to no more than 1% of their enrolled students
  • Creates grants for the development of local accountability systems
  • Creates an extra- and co-curricular allotment

Committee Substitute HB 4514: 

  • Removes the social studies STAAR test in grade eight
  • Adds new PK-8 indicators starting in the 2023-24 school year, including access to enrichment curriculum, participation in extra- and co-curricular activities, state-developed school and student safety surveys, teacher mentoring programs and professional development, chronic absenteeism rates, participation in full-day pre-K, completion of career and technical education courses, and completion of advanced courses
  • Removes the overall, aggregate A-F district and campus performance rating
  • Prohibits STAAR scores to account for more than 50% of any A-F rating

3. Measure What Matters Day at the Capitol

On Tuesday, as school districts across Texas began STAAR testing, Raise Your Hand Texas held its Measure What Matters Capitol Day. The day was filled with advocacy visits to legislative offices, a press conference on the south steps, and an outdoor community art installation with more than 2,600 messages from around the state written on rulers, all highlighting Texans’ desire to improve the state’s public school assessment and accountability system. More than 50 advocates met with every single House and Senate office, urging members to pass legislation that would reform the STAAR test. Students, parents, teachers, and schools are suffering from the state’s overreliance on STAAR tests and an A-F system that measures school quality almost entirely by student performance on one test administered on one day. Raise Your Hand Texas advocates for an assessment and accountability system that does not rely on high-stakes testing and instead includes additional, richer accountability measures that more equitably evaluate what truly make schools great. 

4. Bills on the Move

The Senate Education Committee passed out, among others: 

SB 2368 by Sen. Campbell, relating the minimum number of instructional days provided by public schools.

SB 1474 by Sen. Bettencourt, relating to special education in public schools, including the special education allotment under the Foundation School Program.

SB 1261 by Sen. Paxton, relating to accelerated instruction provided to public school students who fail to achieve satisfactory performance on certain assessment instruments.

The House Public Education Committee passed out, among others: 

HB 1225 by Rep. Metcalf, relating to the administration of certain required assessment instruments in paper format.

HB 1614 by Rep. Dutton, relating to the eligibility for free prekindergarten programs in public schools of certain children who are eligible for the subsidized child-care program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission.

HB 4402 by Rep. K. Bell, relating to the changes to the high school graduation requirements and accountability rating system for assessing campus and district performance. 

5. Upcoming Committee Hearings

The House Youth Health & Safety, Select Committee is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 24 to hear numerous bills.

The House Committee on Public Education is scheduled to meet at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25 to hear numerous education bills. 

Tags: Assessment & Accountability education savings accounts Measure What Matters vouchers

related content


subscribe & make
a difference

Subscribe to our e-newsletter for Texas education news, stories, policy insights, and ways to make a difference. We only use this information to send emails relevant to you and will never share this information with third parties.

Address (Required)(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.