House Bill 5 On Campus

September 8, 2014 |

This is the first of six in our fall blog series, House Bill 5: Past, Present and Future. HB 5 by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock is the landmark accountability and assessment legislation passed during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session (2013). It reduced the number of high-stakes tests for high school students and provided flexible graduation paths intended to increase college and workforce preparedness in Texas.

Each blog in this series features an introductory video by HD Chambers, Superintendent of Alief ISD and pioneer for the HB 5 movement, followed by information about one of the many ways HB 5 impacts education, business, and communities across Texas.

HB 5 Basics

House Bill 5 changed everything for Texas high school students. With one stroke of the pen (the bill was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry on June 10, 2013), the number of required end-of-course exams Texas high schoolers must pass to graduate dropped from 15 to five.

But HB 5 did a lot more than deemphasize standardized tests; it gave students new opportunities to consider their futures in a more realistic and flexible way.
Starting with 8th graders in the 2013-14 school year, students now select an “endorsement” (similar to a college major), which will guide them through their coursework in high school, and their college or workforce focus in the years that follow. (Stay tuned for our upcoming blog in this series concentrated on students and endorsements!)

The Resounding Call for Change

Why the dramatic shift in how we help students navigate high school coursework and graduation? As HD Chambers describes in the video above, school districts, parents, students, and the business community demanded it. They argued the focus had to shift away from a one-size-fits-all graduation plan to flexible graduation plans intended to benefit students, postsecondary institutions, and the business sector.

Ground Zero for HB 5 Implementation: School Campuses

There’s no doubt that Texas school districts and campuses bear the greatest burden of implementing HB 5, a 111-page bill requiring districts to do a lot more than just decrease end-of-course exams from 15 to five.

In fact, the bill affects nearly all aspects of high school coursework and college and career planning. In particular, it requires a lot of new communication among counselors, students, parents, and the higher education community.

HB 5 Resources

Many ISDs, especially smaller districts without in-house staff equipped to interpret and implement the bill, relied on Regional Service Centers (ESCs) and other school districts to provide resources for navigating the substantial changes. Region 4 was an early leader in providing a wealth of HB 5 information and templates to districts statewide.

More recently, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) posted an online HB 5-related Graduation Toolkit in English and Spanish, providing extensive information about endorsements, graduation plans (including checklists), and even the basics about the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests given to students in grades 3-8.

TEA also provides a video overview of the Texas accountability system in English and Spanish.


As can be expected with such a dramatic shift in education policy, implementation of HB 5 has had its share of challenges. HD Chambers gives us an overview of how educators are tackling the most prominent challenges in these additional videos:


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