FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2021
Houston, TX – SB 1365 authored by Senator Bettencourt (R-Houston) and sponsored by Representative Huberty (R-Kingwood) passed the recent 87th Legislature with bipartisan support and goes into effect September 1, 2021 to clarify Texas education system oversight and accountability for ISDs. An important bill due to the large decline in statewide STAAR test results from 3rd to 8th grade, especially in mathematics. In statewide data released by TEA, the number of 3rd to 8th grade students that did not meet the state standard in reading increased by 4% in 202. A whopping change in mathematic assessments for students that meet grade level or above goes from 50% in 2019 to 35% in 2021…
"As I always say, what gets measured, gets fixed!” Senator Bettencourt said. “Without the statewide STAAR test results broken down into clear categories including ISD and grade by TEA, there would be no way to measure the sadly expanded learning gaps within the public school systems,” Bettencourt added.
The purpose of the legislation is to ensure students are put FIRST by striking a balance between local control of districts and state accountability. SB1365 implements the statutory turnaround model for low-performing or failing schools and clarifies provisions put in place by the Legislature regarding TEA procedures when placing sanctions on accountability, investigation, and interventions. The need for clarification comes from a recent Third Court of Appeals ruling that reversed legislative action taken in previous years.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath remarked, "The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have contributed to the most significant learning loss we have ever measured. Had the courts not interfered, our plan to improve support for 200,000-plus students in Houston ISD would have been in place before Coronavirus began. I'm grateful for the important work of the 87th Legislature. With the passage of SB 1365, we are hopeful that going forward the courts will be less likely to prevent laws from being implemented that are designed with one goal in mind: to help children."
“After seeing the results that were released this week, it has never been more clear that we have work to do, especially in areas of reading and mathematics. This legislation will provide more tools to help us as we work to address these concerns,” added House sponsor Representative Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood).
Key changes apply to ISDs and open-enrollment charter schools to continue operations of accountability and intervention.
- A-F rating system: Clarifies the difference between a D rating and a F rating and when and how TEA can step in. Clarifies a “D” rating is considered “needs improvement” and school districts that receive 3 years “D” ratings consequences the same sanctions of 1 year of a “F” rating.
- provides subpoena authority for investigations (from Senate Bill 215)
- ensures authority of conservator applies to the school district not the school
- Ensures due process procedures are fair for both school districts and TEA to have an opportunity to present their cases in an expedited manner in local district court.
- Makes clear schools are authorized to receive a “not rated” rating during times of disasters, like the COVID 19 pandemic which pauses but does not reset the performance rating count for failing schools.