Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3131
By: King, Phil
Public Education


In some states in the United States, virtual classrooms are emerging as a
means to reach students who for one reason or another are unable to attend
class in a traditional classroom setting.  The use of virtual classrooms
has the potential to allow educational access to students who are homebound
due to sickness or injury, in alternative or juvenile corrections
facilities, and in private or home schools.  A virtual classroom setting
may also allow a local school district to maintain attendance credit
without expending an enormous amount of valuable educator time.  Currently
virtual classrooms would be prohibitively expensive for school districts in
Texas due to the inability to count virtual classroom students toward the
average school attendance (ADA).  House Bill 3131 authorizes school
districts that choose to establish a virtual classroom program to receive
credit toward their ADA for students who use and benefit from the program.


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the commissioner of education in
SECTION 1 (Section 29.353, Education Code) of this bill. 


House Bill 3131 amends the Education Code to authorize a school district
(district) to implement a virtual classroom program (program) for students
enrolled in grade levels 6 through 12.  The bill sets forth eligibility
criteria for a student to participate in a program.   

The bill exempts a district offering a program or a student enrolled in a
program from certain provisions pertaining to minimum attendance for class
credit, length of the school day and school year, and compulsory school
attendance, provided that a student successfully completes each program
course no later than the end of the grading period for that course as
determined by the district.  Subject to rules adopted by the commissioner
of education, a student enrolled in a program is authorized to be counted
for attendance purposes in the same manner as a student enrolled in regular
classes in the district.   

The bill authorizes a district offering a program to operate the program on
an extended-year basis for a period not to exceed 45 additional
instructional days.  The bill requires the district's average daily
attendance to be computed for the regular school year plus the extended

The bill sets forth program requirements.  The bill requires the Texas
Education Agency to  monitor, evaluate, and assess the development and
implementation of each program adopted under the provisions of the bill
using state funds appropriated for that purpose.     


On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act
takes effect September 1, 2001. The Act applies beginning with the
2001-2002 school year.