Latest news from TEA on the Foundation HS Program

- REPRINT from TEA's Monthly Newsletter
For more information, visit the TEA website.

As the State Board of Education begins its work to flesh out the new Foundation High School Program created by the Texas Legislature, board members have directed staff to draft a rule that includes more detailed guidance that the public can respond to rather than asking for feedback on a more general proposal.

The board indicated that its draft rule will require a student to complete four related courses, often in a coherent sequence, in order to earn an endorsement. The draft proposal will include language to require students seeking any endorsement to complete Algebra II.

The proposal will also include language to require a student to complete chemistry and physics to earn a STEM endorsement and to require a student to complete English IV and both world history and world geography to earn an arts and humanities endorsement.

The draft proposal will keep speech as a graduation requirement. While never required under state law, the board has required students to take a speech class to meet graduation requirements since the late 1990s.

The board will hold a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed rules on Nov. 20 at the Texas Education Agency headquarters in Austin and then will take preliminary votes on the measure on Nov. 21-22. A final vote is expected in January. It is necessary to revise graduation requirements because of the passage of House Bill 5 this spring.

That law created the 22-credit Foundation High School Program, which will eventually replace the state’s three current graduation plans. The law requires students to complete a total of 26 credits in order to earn an endorsement. Students can earn a distinguished level of achievement by completing a total of four math credits, including Algebra II, and at least one endorsement.

Students must earn this distinguished level of achievement in order to be eligible for automatic college admission under the state’s top 10 percent rule. Additionally, the new graduation program allows students to earn performance acknowledgments for outstanding performance in areas such as bilingualism and biliteracy or on tests such as the SAT or ACT.

The new graduation program won’t be implemented until the fall of 2014. However, students who are in ninth, tenth, or eleventh grade this school year will be given the option of continuing on one of the current graduation programs or switching to the new program.

In September, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams filed transition rules that will also allow some members of the Class of 2014 to switch to the new Foundation High School Program.

The proposed Commissioner’s rules, which can be found at, will only apply to the small group of seniors who are able to complete the coursework required to graduate under the Foundation High School Program in 2013-2014 and who choose this option. This includes students who complete the required coursework during the summer of 2014, but not thereafter.

“While the majority of seniors this year will still graduate under the existing Minimum High School Program, Recommended High School Program, or Distinguished Achievement Program, some students may meet the requirements for the new Foundation High School Program and elect to graduate under that program,” said Commissioner Williams.

“Before making a final decision regarding the graduation program they will pursue, I strongly encourage students and their parents to consider the benefits of taking additional advanced math and science courses, and to fully research required or recommended coursework for admission to any higher education institution they may have interest in attending.”

Because the state board has not yet finalized plans for the endorsements and performance acknowledgements, current seniors who switch to the new program would receive the basic Foundation diploma only. To stay informed about developments concerning HB 5 graduation requirements, visit

For questions or comments, contact the TEA Curriculum
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701-1401
(512) 463-9581


Post a Comment