GoArts News May 28, 2013:
Legislative Session Produces Significant Gains in Fine Arts Education.
On Sunday, May 26, 2013, the Texas House and Senate passed House Bill 5 containing landmark changes for public education that include greater flexibility in high school graduation plans and fewer end-of-course exams. If it is signed into law by the governor, it will elevate the status of arts education by creating an Arts and Humanities endorsement as one of five new areas of concentration high school students may pursue beyond the foundation program.
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Chair of the House Public Education Committee, and Sen. Dan Patrick, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, along with all of their committee members, deserve our thanks for supporting fine arts education and for recognizing the role of the arts in the education of the whole child.
UPDATE: The bill was signed into law by
Governor Rick Perry on June 10.
Most of the key provisions would become effective in the 2014–15 school year under rules and transition provisions issued by the Education Commissioner. The following are brief descriptions of HB 5 provisions that affect arts education.
Arts and Humanities Endorsement
Students could receive an Arts and Humanities Endorsement on their diploma and transcript for completing the 22 credits required in the foundation program plus four additional credits (one in math, one in science, and two electives). Seven of the 26 credits would be electives. The SBOE will determine endorsement-specific credit requirements. Among the five endorsements created in the bill, only the Arts and Humanities endorsement contains a special provision allowing students (with parental permission) to substitute an additional arts and humanities credit for an advanced science credit. The plan will give students much greater flexibility to design a course of study tailored to their interests.
Fine Arts Requirements Protected
The high school foundation plan will continue to require that all students complete one fine arts credit for graduation. The middle school fine arts course requirement in grades 6, 7, or 8 remains in law with no additional course requirements that would limit middle school student electives. TEKS-based music, arts, and theatre must continue to be taught in grades K–5.
However, legislators adopted a provision, not supported by fine arts educators, to let districts choose to allow a student to meet the one-credit fine arts graduation requirement in high school with participation in a community-based fine arts program outside the school day and not provided by the school district in which the student is enrolled. The outside fine arts program would have to meet the TEKS of a current state-approved fine arts course. Substituting such a community-based program to meet the graduation requirement must be approved by the commissioner. While the fine arts community did not support this provision, TMEA was able to work with legislative staff and committee members to accept amendments to assure the integrity and rigor of the requirement.
Restrictions on Pulling Students Out of Classes
After unsuccessful attempts in two previous sessions, legislators finally approved a provision in HB 5 requiring local school boards to adopt and strictly enforce a policy limiting removal of students from academic classes for remedial tutoring or test preparation (fine arts classes are defined by law as academic). A school may not remove a student more than ten percent of the days the class is offered without the permission of the parent.
The bill requires students to be in class 90 percent of the days the class meets (except under extenuating circumstances not related to remediation) to receive a credit or final grade and clarifies that such policy applies not just to high school but to all academic classes in grades K–12.
Fine Arts Included in District and Campus Evaluations
Each district must evaluate the district as well as each campus by August 8 every year for Community and Student Engagement compliance. Local committees will develop criteria for evaluating the district and campuses as having exemplary, recognized, acceptable or unacceptable performance in nine areas, one of which is fine arts.
This is just a brief summary of provisions in HB 5 related to fine arts. The bill contains many other provisions of interest to educators and parents including assessments, accountability, class rankings for college admissions, academic support systems, and much more. Look for more details about the bill in the coming days in the news media and from professional publications and websites.
To read the complete text of the final bill that has been sent to the governor, click here.