House Bill 5: Past, Present, and Future

Case Study


Texas Legislation House Floor

The Issue

Among the most significant changes in Texas public schools passed by the Texas Legislature in the past decade, House Bill 5 stands out. Among the landmark legislation changes was the reduction in high-stakes end-of-course exams for high school students. But the changes that the legislature made to move away from a one-size-fits-all curriculum (known as the “4X4”) will hold more long-term implications for Texas students.

Under HB 5, all students are required to satisfy basic foundation requirements for graduation and select an additional sequence of courses under one of several “endorsements” that are organized around different areas of interest such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); Business and Industry; Public Services; Arts and Humanities; or Multidisciplinary Studies. Students may also pursue a Distinguished designation, which has the same requirements as the former 4X4 curriculum.

The intent behind HB 5 was to increase workforce preparedness by providing students with a variety of graduation plans to explore their interests and develop their talents to support their future goals. Providing students with various advanced-level applied courses of equal rigor and similar substantive content was critical to achieving this goal.

How We Delivered

In addition to our advocacy work at the Texas State Capitol to reduce the number of high-stakes tests our students were required to take through end-of-course exams, our support of HB 5 aligned with our commitment to ensuring high-quality public education that prepares Texas students for higher education and the workforce.

Passage of HB 5 required significant work with legislators at the Capitol, but as is often the case, a bill signed into law marks the beginning of the actual work that must be done to deliver on the promise and requirements set forth by state leaders.

Texas school districts and campuses shouldered the most significant burden of implementing HB 5, a 111-page bill requiring districts to do much more than decrease end-of-course exams from 15 to five.

The bill affected nearly all aspects of high school coursework and college and career planning. HB 5 required new levels of communication, coordination, and collaboration among counselors, students, parents, and the higher education community.

As can be expected with such a dramatic shift in education policy, the implementation of HB 5 has had its share of challenges. Many ISDs, especially smaller districts without in-house staff equipped to interpret and implement the bill, relied on Regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) and larger school districts to provide resources for navigating the substantial changes. Early and often, our friends in public education, including HD Chambers, Former Superintendent of Alief ISD, and Texans Advocating for Meaningful State Assessments (TAMSA), were on the frontlines of helping their colleagues navigate the new requirements and changes created by this landmark shift in accountability and college readiness.

Raise Your Hand Texas worked with public education allies and associations to ensure implementation by the TEA reflected the questions, concerns, and needs of local districts as HB 5 went from paper to the real world.  

Highlights from the Campaign

Watch HD Chambers Discuss the Power of Advocacy in HB 5.

Hear what Texas students had to say about the impact of HB 5 on their education.


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