Revised Texas Education Plan Raises Standards

Jan 9, 2018

The Texas Education Agency met Monday’s deadline to submit a revised school accountability plan to the U.S. Department of Education, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The revised plan made public Tuesday has higher academic performance standards, one of the key requests federal officials made in its initial feedback.

The state’s original goal was for 90 percent of students to be approaching grade level by 2032. Right now around three out four students are at that level.

However, the federal education department said that didn’t accurately measure proficiency, so Texas adjusted its goals. The goal now is for about 75 percent of students to be on grade level by 2032, an across the board increase of 30 percentage points on standardized tests.

“It’s at a much more rigorous standard than the approaches (grade) level, so even though the numbers themselves are lower the expectations are definitely raised,” said Mark Baxter, the director of policy and planning at the Texas Education Agency.

Baxter, who led the team that drafted the plan, is confident Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will approve the revised plan.

“(Federal education officials) have been very helpful in working with us and made it clear that their goal is to help us all get to yes,” Baxter said.

DeVos has approved ESSA plans for the District of Columbia and 15 states so far, and no state plans have been denied.

Federal officials also objected to the way the first draft of Texas’ plan explained graduation rates because they thought Texas might not be counting all schools.

Some schools are excluded under state accountability rules, but Baxter said all schools are counted in this plan.

“For the federal purposes, those schools are all held to the same standards,” said Baxter, adding that the revised plan clarifies that Texas will use the federal definition of four-year graduation rates.

The Department of Education has two weeks to approve or deny the plan.

Camille Phillips can be contacted at or on Twitter @cmpcamille