New Accelerated Instruction Requirements Call for Changes to Policies & Procedures for 2023-2024
In the wake of the pandemic, House Bill 4545 left school districts scrambling to figure out how to address learning loss for all students, including students with disabilities, through accelerated instruction. School districts were cautiously optimistic that the most recent legislative session would ease many of the burdens of House Bill 4545. In June 2023, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1416—otherwise known as the House Bill 4545 ‘Clean-Up Bill—which introduces new changes to the accelerated education environment. While House Bill 1416 narrows some requirements for school districts, it broadens others.
House Bill 1416 drastically expands accelerated instruction requirements to all students in Grades 3 through 8 who fail to pass STAAR assessments in any subject area, as well as high school students who do not pass End-of-Course assessments in English I, English II, Algebra I, Biology or United States History. Fortunately, HB 1416 also eases the burden on school districts in several ways.
First, in lieu of providing supplemental instruction, the student can be assigned to a classroom teacher who is certified as a master, exemplary, or recognized teacher in the applicable subject area. Second, HB 1416 lowers the minimum time required for accelerated instruction from a minimum of 30 hours to 15 hours during the subsequent school year or summer (except that students who score in the low does not meet range and students who do not meet standards on the 3rd grade STAAR must be provided 30 hours). Third, the group size is increased to 4 students. Additionally, the law clearly provides that parents can not onlywaive various requirements, they can also opt out entirely by making a written request to a campus administrator. While the number relevant assessments have increased, if a student does not meet standards in more than two subject areas, the district is only required to provide accelerated instruction in two, prioritizing RLA and math. Finally, accelerated learning committees are eliminated, however, if a student does not perform satisfactorily on two consecutive assessments in the same subject area, the district must create an Accelerated Learning Plan that provides for 30 hours of accelerated instruction.
The bill further clarifies that accelerated learning requirements do not apply to students who take alternative assessments, including STAAR-Alt 2. Additionally, because HB 1416 eliminates accelerated learning committees, ARD committees no longer need to serve that function for students with disabilities who do not pass STAAR assessments. The ARD committee is, however, charged with reviewing a student’s progress in accelerated instruction during the student’s annual ARD meeting. Parents and school districts may also request an ARD meeting to modify a student’s IEP related to the student’s participation in accelerated instruction. Further, school districts are no longer required to provide accelerated instruction off campus where a student’s IEP requires off-campus services.
HB 1416 does not revise or eliminate other provisions in the Education Code that provide supports for students who do not perform satisfactorily on STAAR, specifically personal graduation plans (PGP) and Intensive Programs of Instruction (IPI). Recent TEA guidance provides that, for students who need a PGP or IPI because of their STAAR performance, the requirements of these programs can be met by providing accelerated instruction under HB 1416 (for students who need a PGP or IPI because they are not expected to graduate in five years, their IEP meets the applicable requirements).
TEA has provided additional explanation on its accelerated instruction webpage and this HB 1416 FAQ. With the new school year around the corner, it is important for school districts to ensure that their special education operating procedures and policies reflect these legislative changes. For further information regarding these updates or to request assistance updating your school district’s policies and procedures, contact the author of this post or any member of the Thompson & Horton Special Education Team.
Aluwet Deng, second-year law student at the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law, is a legal clerk with Thompson & Horton LLP.
This post was updated September 9, 2023.