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GoArts News March 27, 2013:

HB 5 Passes.
On Tuesday, March 26, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 5 authored by Representative Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen). This education bill combines new graduation programs and requirements with a new accountability system to evaluate campuses and districts across the state.

Your Calls Made a Difference. The Pull-out Limitation Amendment Was Adopted.

Many GoArts supporters responded to a call to action by contacting their representatives and encouraging their vote for an amendment very important to fine arts education. This amendment that was adopted by the House requires local boards of education to create a policy limiting the pull-out of students from academic classes for test remediation and preparation to ten percent or less of the days the class meets (unless the parent gives their permission to exceed this).

The bill also clarifies that this policy applies to grades K–12, not just high school. This was a significant accomplishment for us, and thanks go to Representative John Davis, (R-Houston) for carrying the amendment and Chairman Aycock for accepting the amendment on the floor.

Next Steps

HB 5 has moved to the Senate Education Committee where they may:
(1) hear the bill as passed in the House,
(2) substitute the Senate version of the bill (SB 3), or
(3) amend the House bill and send it back to the House.

Ultimately the final version of the bill will be determined in conference committee, sent to both the Senate and House for final approval, and then to the Governor to be signed into law. SB 3 has not yet been scheduled for debate and vote on the Senate floor.

More on HB 5

The bill eliminates the current Minimum, Recommended, and Distinguished Achievement graduation programs and creates one “Foundation High School Program” that will prepare students for postsecondary opportunities. This new program will provide students with flexibility and options to earn endorsements to pursue personal interests in the following areas: STEM, Business & Industry, Public Services, Arts & Humanities, and Multidisciplinary Studies.

In this foundation high school program, every student will be required to complete specific courses totaling 17 credits plus 7 elective credits. The plan creates a distinguished achievement level available above the foundation program that can be attained in any of the endorsement areas. To earn this level students must complete 4 credits (rather than 3) in both math and science, which must include Algebra II. Students who wish to be considered for top ten percent automatic admission to a state university must successfully pursue this level.

Finally, the bill reduces the overemphasis on high-stakes testing by lowering the number of required end-of-course exams from 15 to 5.

In addition to maintaining the one-credit fine arts requirement, now our more serious fine arts students will have the opportunity to pursue the Arts & Humanities endorsement.

While this bill does permit a district to create a policy allowing students to earn their fine arts credit by participating in an afterschool fine arts program, we were successful in amending the language to mandate that this program be community-based and deliver instruction covering the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Fine Arts. Such a program must also provide a course not offered by the district in which the student is enrolled. We thank Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) for carrying this amendment for us.



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