HBA-CMT H.B. 3131 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3131 By: King, Phil Public Education 4/12/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE 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. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY 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. ANALYSIS 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 period. 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. EFFECTIVE DATE 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.