Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 879
By: Cuellar
Public Education


Many states, including Texas, have developed statewide education standards
during this decade. While the number of Texas schools performing poorly
with respect to these standards is decreasing every year, some schools have
been unable to raise their performance on a consistent basis, and new
methods are needed to increase and enable student performance in those
schools.  H.B. 879 provides the school districts and the commissioner of
education with specific tools with which to address poor student
performance and low-performing schools. 

More specifically, H.B. 879 requires school districts to provide parents
with specific information regarding their child's academic performance, as
well as the availability of services offered to students regarding
accelerated and extended year programs and tutorial services; and requires
the districts to provide an extended year program and tutoring services for
low-performing students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Additionally, the bill encourages the school district, student, and
student's parents to enter into a non-binding academic achievement
commitment if the student's academic performance is not satisfactory.   

H.B. 879 requires a school district to assist a student in using a public
education grant to attend school in another district if the student is not
performing satisfactorily, or the student's current school is ranked as a
low-performing school.  It allows the commissioner of education to take
specific actions with respect to a low-performing school, including
determining the source of the cause of the school's low performance and
assisting the school in addressing those problems.  This bill also requires
the commissioner to assign a school rated as exemplary to act in the
capacity of mentor to a low-performing school. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Section 25.085(d), Education Code, to provide that a
student enrolled in a school district must attend an extended-year program
for which the student is eligible that is provided by the district under
Section 29.082 ("Optional" Extended Year Program), or tutorial classes
provided, rather than required, by the district under Section 29.084
(Tutorial Services), unless specifically exempted by Section 25.086
(Exemptions).  Deletes text qualifying the extended-year program as that
"for students likely not to be promoted to the next level."  Section 5 of
this bill deletes "optional" from the title of Section 29.082. 

SECTION 2.  Amends Chapter 26, Education Code, by adding Section 26.013, as

Section 26.013.  INFORMATION TO PARENTS.  (a)  Requires each school
district to provide annually to the parent of each child enrolled in that
district written information that summarizes parental rights and
responsibilities under this chapter; a student's right to pray or meditate
in school as provided by Section 25.901 (Exercise of Constitutional Right
to Pray); the availability of accelerated and extended year programs and
tutorial services under Subchapter C, Chapter 29 (Compensatory Education
Program); the availability of career and  guidance counseling programs
under Subchapter A, Chapter 33 (School Counselor and Counseling Programs);
a description of site-based decision making under Section 11.253 (Campus
Planning and Site-Based Decision-Making); and the method under which a
campus or campus program charter may be obtained under Subchapter C,
Chapter 12 (Campus or Campus Program Charter). 

(b)  Requires the school district to provide the information required in
Subsection (a) by a method designed to reach parents, including an
individual letter, an attachment in a report card, or in a parent/student
handbook, a school district brochure, or a school or parent-teacher
organization newsletter. 

SECTION 3.  Amends Sections 28.022(a) and (b), Education Code, as follows:

(a)  Adds to a list of things to be provided or required by a policy to be
adopted by the board of trustees for each school district, a requirement
that the district give written notice at least once every three weeks to a
parent regarding a student's performance in mathematics, social studies,
science, or English language arts, including intensive reading instruction,
if the student's performance in that subject is consistently
unsatisfactory.  Makes a nonsubstantive change. 

(b)  Makes a conforming change.

SECTION 4.  Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 2, Education Code, by adding
Section 28.0221, as follows: 

Sec. 28.0221.  ACHIEVEMENT COMMITMENT.  (a)  Provides that each school
district is encouraged to enter into an achievement commitment with a
student and the student's parents under certain conditions regarding the
student's inability to achieve satisfactorily. 

(b)  Sets forth the specific tenets of an achievement commitment.

(c)  Provides that an achievement commitment is not binding.

SECTION 5.  Amends Section 29.082, Education Code, as follows:

Sec. 29.082.  New title:  EXTENDED YEAR PROGRAM.  Deletes "optional" from
title. (a)  Requires a school district to provide, rather than to set aside
an amount from the district's allotment under Section 42.152 (Compensatory
Education Allotment) or apply to the Texas Education Agency for the funding
of, an extended year program for a period not to exceed 30 instructional
days for students in kindergarten through grade eight.  Provides that the
program applies to students whose yearly grade average in English language
arts or mathematics is lower than the equivalent of 70 on a scale of 100,
rather than to those students who are identified as likely not to be
promoted to the next grade level for the succeeding school year.  Deletes
text in Subsection (e) regarding promotion of the student into the next
grade, as determined by a meeting between the school principal and the
student's parent. Redesignates Subsections (f) and (g) to Subsections (e)
and (f), respectively. 

SECTION 6.  Amends Section 29.084, Education Code, as follows:

Sec. 29.084.  TUTORIAL SERVICES.  (a)  Requires, rather than authorizes,
each school district to provide tutorial services for each student whose
grade in mathematics, social studies, science, or English language arts,
including intensive reading instruction,  is lower than the equivalent of
70 on a scale of 100 for a grade reporting period.  Makes conforming and
nonsubstantive changes. 

(b)  Authorizes the district to provide tutorial services by providing
certain extended school or tutorial services. 

(c)  Provides that tutorial services may be provided at the student's home
campus or a  central campus or through a community or neighborhood program. 

(d)  Created from existing Subsection (c). 

SECTION 7.  Amends Sections 29.153(a) and (d), Education Code, as follows:

(a)  Deletes the requirement that children must be at least four years of
age to be eligible for prekindergarten classes offered by a district that
identifies 15 or more eligible children and that is therefore required to
offer the classes.  Deletes text authorizing a school district to offer
prekindergarten classes if the district identifies 15 or more eligible
children who are at least three years of age. 

(d)  Prohibits the commissioner of education (commissioner) from exempting
a school district under this subsection in connection with a school campus
that was identified as lowperforming under Subchapter D, Chapter 39
(Accreditation Status), in the preceding school year. 

SECTION 8.  Amends Subchapter G, Chapter 29, Education Code, by adding
Section 29.2021, as follows: 

school district to assist a student in using a public education grant to
attend school in a district other than the district where the student
resides under certain conditions. 

(b)  Requires a student's parent, in order to receive assistance, to submit
to the district a list of five school districts the parent would like the
student to attend, in order of preference.  Requires the district
superintendent where the student resides or the superintendent's designee
to assist the parent in contacting each district and to urge each district
to permit the student to use a public education grant to attend school in
that district.  Authorizes the superintendent or designee to offer the
district an incentive, including an agreement to accept a student from the
other district who is entitled to a public education grant. 

SECTION 9.  Amends Section 39.024(b), Education Code, to provide that the
intensive programs for students who did not perform satisfactorily on an
assessment instrument under Section 39.023(a) or (c) (Assessment
Instruments) that are designed to enable the students to perform at grade
level by the end of the next regular school term must be provided in manner
permitted by Section 29.084 (Tutorial Services).  Authorizes a district to
provide transportation for a student required to attend an intensive
program and who is eligible for regular transportation services. 

SECTION 10.  Amends Subchapter G, Chapter 39, Education Code, to amend the
heading as follows: 


SECTION 11.  Amends Section 39.131, Education Code, by adding Subsections
(b-1) and (b-2), as follows: 

(b-1)  Authorizes the commissioner to take any action set forth under
Subsections (b)(1) through (5) under certain enumerated circumstances
related to a campus's performance level. 

(b-2)  Requires the commissioner to take certain actions if campus
performance is below one or more standards under Section 39.073(b)
(Determining Accreditation Status) at each grade level taught at the campus
and, in two or more succeeding school years, the campus is identified as
low-performing or the commissioner acts under Subsection (b-1). 

SECTION 12.  Amends Subchapter G, Chapter 39, by adding Sections 39.132 and
39.133, as follows: 

commissioner to assign a mentor school for each school identified as
low-performing under Section 39.131(b) (Sanctions).  Provides that only a
school rated as exemplary may volunteer to act as the mentor school.
Requires the mentor school to consult with the low-performance school
assigned to it in order to enable the low-performance school to replicate
strategies used by the mentor school. 

SCHOOLS. Requires the commissioner to require each low-performing school
that is identified as such because of the number of students who did not
perform satisfactorily on an assessment administered under Section
39.023(a)(1) or (c) to provide an intensive instructional program.  Sets
forth criteria for the program. 

SECTION 13.  Amends Section 42.005(a), Education Code, to provide that, in
this chapter, average daily attendance is the quotient of the sum of
attendance for each day of the minimum number of days of instruction as
described under Section 25.081(a) (Operation of Schools), for each day of
an extended year program under Section 29.082,("Optional" Extended Year
Program) and for each day of a program of tutorial services under Section
29.084 (Tutorial Services) divided by the minimum number of days of

SECTION 14.  Repealer:  Section 42.152(p), Education Code.  This subsection
requires the commissioner to withhold from the total amount of funds
appropriated for allotments under this section an amount sufficient to
finance extended year programs under Section 29.082, not to exceed five
percent of the amounts allocated under this section; and give priority to
applications for extended year programs to districts with high
concentrations of educationally disadvantaged students. 

SECTION 15.  Makes this Act prospective for the 1999-2000 school year.

SECTION 16.  Emergency clause.
   Effective date: upon passage.