Evaluation of the Texas Foundation High School Program (House Bill 5)

Adults working together in a library

For many decades, high schools focused on preparing students for either postsecondary education or entry-level jobs. Career and technical education (CTE) was expected to serve the needs of students who did not anticipate going to college, including students with low academic achievement, while students preparing for college were expected to complete more credits in core academic subject areas.

Over time, this approach has changed. Reform models that integrate CTE and academic preparation are intended to elevate career pathways and make them more relevant to students’ academic coursework, and vice versa. The hope is that a more integrated, career-focused approach will improve student engagement and motivation as well as the transition to higher education, workforce education programs, or entry-level jobs. 

Texas House Bill 5 Evaluation

In 2013, Texas enacted House Bill 5 (HB 5), which modified Texas’ high school graduation requirements for all students entering Grade 9 beginning with the 2014–15 school year. Known as the Foundation High School Program, HB 5 placed greater emphasis on career preparation by including five career-area endorsement options to provide students with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of a subject area. Both the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Legislature expressed a commitment to examining the impact of the state’s new high school graduation requirements on student outcomes.

Report: Texas Students’ Progress Under the Foundation High School Program (February, 2024)

This report examined the first three Grade 9 cohorts who entered high school under the Foundation High School Program (2014–15 through 2016–17) and investigated the extent to which students were taking advantage of the greater flexibility in course requirements and increased emphasis on postsecondary readiness and career preparation available under the Foundation High School Program.

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305H170006 to the American Institutes for Research®. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.