The House Bill 4402 Journey and What Comes Next 

July 06, 2023  

 Playing the Long Game for Assessment and Accountability Reform

Some legislative efforts are modest, targeted efforts to tweak state laws, resulting in small changes for a limited number of Texans. And then there’s the Measure What Matters campaign.

Since its inception nearly two years ago, the Measure What Matters campaign for assessment and accountability reform has always been a bold proposal, seeking important changes for Texas students and families. Our state’s current assessment and accountability system requires standardized tests for every child and rates every public school campus and district based on those test scores. It is a large, complex system, and it doesn’t work well for all Texas families. Why? 

Because it doesn’t measure what matters

How can we measure a student’s holistic success?

This test, administered to students on one day each year, does not provide a holistic view of a student’s and school’s achievements. That’s why Raise Your Hand went to work on a statewide effort to reform the assessment and accountability system, resulting in five bills that proposed adding additional indicators, or types of data, to our accountability system. 

Small legislative proposals typically have small runways and can pass in one or two legislative sessions. Big, bold plans, however, often take more time and large-scale advocacy campaigns. This is the case with the Measure What Matters campaign. HB 4402, the reform legislation that advanced the furthest during the 88th Session, had overwhelming support as it passed the Texas House on May 9, 2023, with a vote of 128-17. 

With such overwhelming support and numerous media reports and press events across the state, indicating Texans desire to pass reform on STAAR, there was real hope that HB 4402 would pass any hurdles in the Texas Senate. Unfortunately, due to political negotiations around school vouchers, school funding, and teacher pay, HB 4402 ultimately did not pass the Texas Senate. 

A bold, future-focused plan such as the Measure What Matters campaign, is representative of the kind of approach we need to strengthen public education for all Texas students and prepare our future workforce. 

Continuing to Advocate for Assessment and Accountability

“We didn’t make it to the finish line this time,” said Dr. Libby Cohen, Senior Director of Advocacy for Raise Your Hand Texas. “However, the very fact that STAAR reform was singled out as a bargaining chip in the voucher fight shows us that state leaders know this is a potent, popular issue. We believe we are even better positioned to make progress on this issue in future legislative sessions.” 

Raise Your Hand Texas and our allies will continue to advocate for assessment and accountability reform that reflects the well-rounded and comprehensive educational opportunities our students deserve. 

But the work isn’t done, and the conversation is ongoing. The Texas House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment is set to meet on July 11 and 12, 2023. One of the topics of discussion includes how to build a better accountability system that measures what our students are fully capable outside of the STAAR exam. To add your comments to the discussion, follow the link here to submit written testimony asking the legislature to update the accountability and assessment system in Texas.

We hope all Texans who share our beliefs will join us on our advocacy journey and stand up for what’s right for Texas kids. Make your voice heard at the right times and stay involved by signing up for text alerts that will allow you to join Raise Your Hand in taking action at key moments in the lead-up to the special session. Text RAISEMYHAND to 40649 to join us. 

Tags: Assessment and Accountability Measure What Matters STAAR

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.