Identifying and improving struggling schools is essential to maintaining a system that educates all students effectively. All public schools should be held to high fiscal and academic standards, with appropriate interventions for low-performing campuses.

POLICY

School Turnaround Legislation

To address underperforming campuses while still protecting local community control of neighborhood schools, the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1842 in 2015. The statute requires the TEA commissioner to take corrective action at a chronically low-performing school, first by requiring a school turnaround plan after two consecutive years of unacceptable performance ratings.

If the commissioner approves, the plan must be implemented no later than the school year following the third consecutive unacceptable rating. If low performance persists for five consecutive years, the commissioner must either appoint a board of managers for the entire district or order the school to be closed. HB 1842 is the most aggressive school turnaround policy the legislature has ever passed.

RESEARCH

Addressing Low‑Performing Schools

The vast majority of Texas public school campuses consistently meet state standards. Of the small percentage of campuses designated as low-performing, most are turned around through state and local remedies in fewer than three years.

Of the 733 campuses that received an Improvement Required (IR) rating in 2014 (roughly 8 percent of all campuses that year), more than 80 percent turned things around and were no longer rated IR by 2017.

Even though chronically underperforming schools represent only a small percentage of all public schools, it is unacceptable for even one public school student to be enrolled in a chronically underperforming campus, and Raise Your Hand Texas supports continuous efforts to turn around struggling schools so all students have access to an excellent education.

As of the 2016-17 school year, 675 open-enrollment charter campuses run by 195 charter holders operated in Texas, with combined enrollment of 272,835 students.

With regard to student performance, 79.9 percent of these campuses received a Met Standard rating, compared with 90.4 percent of traditional public school campuses for the 2016-17 school year.

POLICY

Stronger Charter Accountability Through Senate Bill 2 (2013)

Although there are many high-performing charters in Texas serving students well, prior to 2013 there was an urgent need to reform the authorization and revocation process for charters after many Texas charter schools were authorized and allowed to continue operation despite repeated years of poor academic performance and/or fiscal irresponsibility.

The Texas Legislature in 2013 passed Senate Bill 2, a bill expanding the cap on the number of charters authorized to operate in Texas, while at the same time tightening oversight of and intervention with low-performing charters and the charter authorization process. SB 2 requires the commissioner of education to revoke a charter after three years of failure to meet minimum academic or financial accountability ratings.

Since SB2 passed, over 35 charters have ceased operation.

As established in SB 2, the commissioner of education exercises important oversight of open-enrollment charter schools. Because open-enrollment charter leaders are not elected, state accountability for this type of public school is critical.

In a system educating more than 5 million+ public school students, innovation must consistently be encouraged, but always while ensuring students are well-served in the process, through a public school accountability system providing for transparency in student performance outcomes and the use of public dollars.