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Updated Summary of HB 3906 on Assessment, Passed by Legislature

05.29.2019 (updated since original posting) — HB 3906 relating to student assessment emerged from conference committee and was passed by both the House and Senate on Sunday, May 26.

While the bill was in conference committee, TASA and TASB shared considerations on HB 3906 with all conferees. Many of those considerations were taken and are reflected in the final bill as passed. Our organizations greatly appreciate the conferees making changes that reflect our input, including:

  • Not increasing the amount of standardized testing by adding assessment of writing to grade 3, 5, 6, and 8 to STAAR reading tests. Instead, the final bill leaves the STAAR reading tests in grades 3-8 as is. Effective September 2021, the state is no longer required to develop STAAR stand-alone grade 4 and 7 writing tests, including spelling and grammar, that students are required to take (26-line formulaic writing composition assessments).

  • Maintaining provisions for classroom portfolio methods to assess writing performance. Note: Provisions were maintained that require tests to not have more than 75 percent of questions in multiple choice format and all tests to be administered electronically by the 2022-23 school year. With these provisions in place, although not stated explicitly in the bill, it appears that the state intends to allow short answer responses on STAAR tests in grades 3-8 and/or classroom portfolio methods as a new means to assess writing performance. Assessment of writing is still included in the English I and English II end-of-course exams, with a new provision that those assessments may be administered over more than one day.

  • Maintaining the provisions that require the commissioner to appoint a technical advisory committee to advise the commissioner and the agency regarding the development of valid and reliable tests. Requiring members to be experts on educational assessments and psychometrics. Maintaining provisions that require the commissioner to appoint an educator advisory committee to advise the commissioner and the agency regarding the development of academically appropriate tests. Members must include experts in curriculum and instruction. Note: We are unsure if these committees will replace the current APAC and ATAC committees or will be in addition to those committees.

  • Adding safeguards to the provisions for a five-year transition period for the state to move to a system in which all STAAR tests would be administered electronically beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. The added safeguards address TASA and TASB concerns with the numerous problems with online testing over the years and the potential financial burden on school districts that do not have sufficient technological resources. Section six of the bill has more details.

  • Removing language that allowed TEA to use Foundation School Program (FSP) funds to implement the provisions of the bill. Section nine of the bill outlines the state appropriations that must be used.

  • Removing language that would have transferred all authority over the state assessment program from the SBOE, an elected body, to the commissioner.

See the conference committee report in full.