House Bill 5 Evaluation

Lynn Mellor, Ginger Stoker, and Kelly Reese

In June 2013, former Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law House Bill (HB) 5, which established a new high school graduation program—the Foundation High School Program—for students entering Grade 9 in 2014–15 and reduced the number of state assessments required for graduation.

Prior to the passage of HB 5, Texas students could choose among three graduation programs: the Minimum High School Program (MHSP), the Recommended High School Program (RHSP), and the Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP), with special provisions required for students to complete the MHSP. On both the RHSP and DAP, students are required to complete four credits each in English, mathematics (including Algebra II), science, and social studies—satisfying the admission requirements for most Texas public universities and colleges.

With the enactment of HB 5, the commissioner of education was required to adopt a transition plan to replace the MHSP, RHSP, and DAP with the Foundation High School Program beginning with the 2014–15 school year. The Foundation High School Program was designed to give students the flexibility to take more classes focused on their interests and career goals.

AIR is conducting an evaluation of HB 5 that estimates the effects of graduation requirement changes on several key outcomes. This first report provides an overview of the curriculum, assessment, and graduation requirements in Texas since the inception of the MHSP, RHSP, and DAP graduation programs as well as an overview of the state accountability system during this period; provides baseline student outcome measures for students who graduated under the MHSP, RHSP, and DAP; and describes the first year of implementation of the Foundation High School Program.

Lynn Mellor
Principal Researcher