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Massive Overhaul of School Finance, House Bill 3, Passes the Texas Senate

May 6, 2019

HB 3 Reduces STAAR Tests, does not Increase Passing Standards and Prohibits Evaluating Teacher Performance and Incentive Pay based solely on STAAR test scores

 

AUSTIN– The Committee Substitute to House Bill 3, sponsored by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Galveston) has passed the Texas Senate with 26 yes votes, thereby allowing for the largest school finance overhaul in decades. Senator Taylor said it best, “Texas is way behind on school finance and if we want to continue to be the greatest state in the union, we must change. We’ve got to move our school finance system into the 21stcentury.”

 

CSHB 3 reduces STAAR tests by eliminating the 4th and 7th grade writing tests. Instead, a few writing questions will be added to the existing reading test. CSHB 3 also includes no new Kindergarten testing in the bill and it does not increase passing standards. Students may still pass a STAAR test by ‘approaching grade level,’ a standard that is not changed in the bill. Senator Campbell (R-New Braunfels) stated that, “The need for meaningful School Reform is real and the need is clear for our children.” Although the Texas Supreme Court upheld the current public-school funding system in 2016, the court also urged state lawmakers to implement “transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount to more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.” 

 

Senator Taylor outlined the sense of urgency around passing House Bill 3 by referencing the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion, “The Texas Supreme Court ruled that although our system is constitutional, it’s messed up!” CSHB 3 also expressly prohibits evaluating teacher performance and incentive pay based solely on STAAR test scores. CSHB 3 includes some outcomes-based funding related to 3rd grade reading levels but allows school districts to use local assessments for this purpose. Senator Nelson (R-Flower Mound) lauded Senator Taylor saying, “Senator Taylor, thank you for all the hard work that you have put in on this bill, you have gotten us somewhere on school finance that I did not think was possible and I want to thank you for getting us to this point.

 

The Texas Senate knew that passing CSHB 3 would mean meaningful and realistic change. Instead of succumbing to fear and political inertia and led by Senator Taylor, the Texas Senate finally, after decades of band-aides, was able to pass meaningful and long-lasting school finance reform. After more than one-hundred proposed amendments, Senator Taylor closed the proceedings by thanking amongst others, the Education committee members and the committee staff, and urging lawmakers to pass CSHB 3, “Let’s move Texas well into the 21stcentury with this vote.”

 

Lieutenant Governor Patrick (R-TX) also stated his thanks to the entire Senate body, “I want to thank you all for working together efficiently and admirably throughout this process.

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