Texas 2036’s biggest education issues this legislative session

This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter about some of our most important education issues for the state this legislative session. To receive this weekly highlight of our work, sign up here.

Education has been a hot topic this legislative session. At Texas 2036, we remain committed to data-driven solutions that can improve outcomes for students.

Our guideposts: Where Texas 2036 stands 📚

For Texas to continue to prosper, more students need to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. To do this, we must care enough to measure and judge success, resource effectively and hold schools accountable for their performance.

Taking action: With a month left in this session, we are focused on defending a strong assessment and accountability system, ensuring equity in our public schools and focusing on data-driven practices to improve college and career readiness.

  • Texas 2036 has testified on education 17 times during the 88th Legislature so far.

Double down: The state is well positioned to build off of impactful legislation from previous legislative sessions, such as House Bill 3 (86R) and HB 3906 (86R).

  • By allowing the state’s investments into data-driven solutions to bake, smart policy decisions this year will help improve student readiness to secure Texas’ future prosperity.

Want to learn about some of the most important education bills this session? Keep reading. ⬇️

Helping Texas students shine bright 🌟

Last week, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, exams started for Texas students. Here are five things to know about the test.

  1. The STAAR evaluates whether or not students are on grade level starting in third grade and measures their knowledge of the state’s academic standards known as TEKS.
  2. Each year, Texas teachers spend around 3,000 hours reviewing the exam. Subsequently, the questions are released, allowing parents and the public to review test materials.
  3. The test has been undergoing improvements following a $70 million investment into its redesign, taking major steps to improve the quality of questions to ensure that they more closely mirror the classroom experience.
  4. This year, the STAAR is entirely online and multiple-choice questions are no more than 75% of the test.
  5. The STAAR is benchmarked against post-secondary readiness standards, telling us if a student is academically prepared for life after high school.

👉 Check out our report: The State of Readiness: Are Texas students prepared for life after high school?

By the numbers: College and career readiness 📊

Did you know: While 70% of jobs in Texas will require a postsecondary credential by 2036, only 22% of Texas eighth graders earn a degree or credential within six years of graduation.

  • People moving to Texas are more than twice as likely to have bachelor’s degrees as our fellow Texans.

An early start: The STAAR exam is aligned to success in college and career—as STAAR scores improve students are more ready for adulthood.

Here’s what the 2022 STAAR results show:


  • 60% of all Texas students are not on grade level.
  • 75% of Black, 66% of Hispanic and 70% of economically disadvantaged students are not on grade level.
  • There is no grade level with over 50% of students on track.
  • Only 38% of 8th graders were on grade level in 2022.

Prior to 2020, Texas’ STAAR math performance was low but increasing on a year-over-year basis. While COVID learning loss impacted this steady growth, the numbers are increasing once again and are improving at its highest rate.


  • 48% of all TX students aren’t on grade level.
  • 60% of Black, 56% of Hispanic and 59% of economically disadvantaged students aren’t on grade level.
  • 44% of 8th graders weren’t on grade level.
  • Over 1.5 million 3rd–10th graders are still not at grade level in reading

Although the pandemic set reading scores back to 2017 levels, more than 50% of Texas students are on grade level in reading for the first time since the STAAR was administered in 2012.

👉 Dive deeper: Student readiness: What assessments tell us

Texas 2036 defends strong accountability for schools 🧑‍🏫

Data matters: Last week, Senior Policy Advisor Mary Lynn Pruneda testified against two bills—HB 4402 and HB 4514—which would water down the measurements that provide Texas parents insight into performance across grades and subject areas over time.

  • While Texas struggles with readiness, these numbers would be much worse without the accountability system.
  • Adding in new indicators into the accountability system can lead to serious inequities that privilege affluent districts over their less affluent peers.

👉 Watch: Mary Lynn testifies about how changes to the A-F system could cause school finance inequities 

How does Texas’ A-F System actually work? Currently, our system measures three things: high school graduation, college, career, and military readiness, or CCMR, rates, and performance in four core subjects—math, reading, science and social studies.

  • Performance in these three areas is measured in several different ways. The main point of this is to provide transparency, fairness, and equity in the system.

Accountability prompts action: Texas is one of around a dozen states with an accountability system that includes an A-F rating. Over time, Texas public schools have improved—thanks in part to our strong accountability system.

  • From 2019 to 2022, the number of failing campuses was cut nearly in half. Our current system provides much more information than what we had before A-F ratings were enacted.

Data dive: Through assessments like the STAAR exam, Texans can better measure the readiness of students for college or the workforce. Students on A- and B-rated campuses are:

  • 2.7x as likely to be college ready upon graduation than students on D or F campuses.
  • 2.6x as likely to meet grade-level math expectations.
  • 1.8x as likely to meet grade-level reading expectations.

Bottom line: Texas students should be able to graduate high school equipped to pursue college and career pathways that ensure their economic mobility and meet our state’s rapidly evolving workforce demands.

👉 Learn more: Holding the line: A-F system is working

Under the Dome: The bills to watch 🏛

From high-impact tutoring to expanding innovative learning models, here are some of the bills Texas 2036 is supporting:

  • Senate Bill 9 and HB 11 (Creighton/Dutton): Omnibus teacher workforce bills that includes expansions to the Mentor Program and Teacher Incentive Allotments, establishes the Texas Teacher Residency Partnership Program, and offers additional support and benefits to educators. 📌 Download our HB 11 cheat sheet.
  • SB 1261 (Paxton): Addresses concerns from school districts regarding the High-Impact Tutoring program established by HB 4545 (87R), while maintaining research backed tutor to student ratios.
  • HB 1605/SB 2565 (Buckley/Creighton): Provides teachers with state-owned, grade-level vetted resources aligned with state standards, provides incentives for districts to adopt these high-quality instructional materials, and increases transparency for parents. 📌 Watch Texas 2036 HB 1605 testimony.
  • HB 3141/SB 1861 (King/Bettencourt): Consolidates existing virtual education code and codifies recommendations made by the Commission on Virtual Education.
  • HB 1707/SB 472 (Klick/Hughes): Requires municipalities to have the same zoning, permitting and fees for public charter schools as for ISDs.
  • HB 2162 (Dutton): Increases access to science based reading instruction and early literacy interventions.
  • HB 2209/SB 992 (Lozano/Hinojosa): Establishes the Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership (R-PEP) program and creates an allotment and outcomes bonus to support the program.
  • HB 4567 (Cunningham): Commissions a study on the outcomes and adoption of alternative instructional day or school week schedules by school districts.
  • SB 2368 (Campbell): Greatly limits the implementation of four-day school weeks.
  • HB 4870/SB 2124 (Howard/Creighton): Expands access to advanced math pathways for middle school students by creating a statewide enrollment policy in advanced math based on student achievement data.

👉 In case you missed it: Texas 2036 President and CEO Margaret Spellings discussed student readiness and school choice in her March President’s Report

It’s your turn, Texas 🖊

Which education bills are most important to you?

Take our short survey and tell us!



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