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IES Grant

Title: An Evaluation of the New Graduation Requirements in Texas
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Mellor, Lynn Awardee: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Program: Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years (9/1/2017 – 8/31/2022) Award Amount: $2,790,413
Type: Efficacy Award Number: R305H170006

Co-Principal Investigator: Linda Roska (Texas Education Agency)

Partner Institution: Texas Education Agency (TEA)

Purpose: This project is a partnership between the American Institutes of Research (AIR) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to investigate the impact of 2013 Texas House Bill 5 (HB 5) on student outcomes. With the enactment of HB 5, the state’s previous high school graduation requirements, which included a requirement that all students complete Algebra II, were replaced with were replaced with the Foundation High School Program (FHSP), which gives students who want to go directly into career and technical fields the flexibility to take more classes focused on their interests. HB 5 also introduced career endorsements to high school diplomas that include a CTE pathway for completion. One concern with FHSP is that the elimination of the Algebra II requirement could make students less prepared for college. This partnership will examine the long-term impacts of HB 5 on college readiness, college enrollment, college persistence, and remedial mathematics course-taking. The project will also collect data to help TEA and policymakers in Texas understand how the implementation of FHSP in districts across Texas has evolved since the first year of implementation. Finally, the partnership will build TEA’s capacity to conduct and oversee rigorous evaluations that meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) design standards and communicate findings to policymakers and the public.

Project Activities: The partnership will examine changes in students’ high school and college outcomes with the passage of HB 5 and will also examine how variations in implementation across the state affect outcomes. AIR and TEA will work together to conduct all activities of the evaluation. In addition to the quantitative analyses using state administrative data, the team will survey district administrators, high school principals, and high school counselors about how changes to the graduation requirements were implemented in Texas public school districts, as well as collect data regarding the costs associated with implementing the FHSP in the district. The team will also collect survey data from students about their experiences with the FHSP.

Products: At the end of this project, the partnership will produce evidence about the effect of the implementation of HB 5 on Texas students’ high school and college outcomes. The partners will also produce a final report that TEA can use in its briefings with the Texas Legislature, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Workforce Commission, other stakeholders, and the public, as well as publications in peer-reviewed journals, state briefings and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project will take place in all public high schools in Texas.

Sample: The sample will include all incoming Grade 9 students in Texas from 2011–12 through 2017–18. All cohorts will be followed through the end of the grant period (2021–22).

Intervention: The intervention is the change in high school graduation requirements introduced by HB 5 in Texas, including elimination of the Algebra II requirement and more flexibility for students to take career and technical education classes.

Research Design and Methods: The team will use data from the Texas P–20/Workforce Data Repository on the population of first-time Grade 9 students who entered or will enter Texas public high schools during the 2011–12 through 2017–18 academic years. The researchers will compare students in cohorts 2011–12 through 2013–14 (who entered high school under the previous graduation requirements) with students entering high school in the 2014–15 through 2017–18 cohorts (who entered or will enter high school under the FHSP). Survey data will also be collected from administrators and students to better understand the change.

Control Condition: The comparison group is comprised of cohorts of students prior to the passage of HB 5 (i.e., prior to FHSP, which includes students in cohorts 2011–12 through 2013–14).

Key Measures: The outcome variables include Algebra II completion, college readiness, high school graduation, two-year and four-year college enrollment, two-year and four-year college persistence, and remedial mathematics course-taking in college.

Data Analytic Strategy: Two different types of longitudinal data analyses will be combined to look at the impact of HB 5 on student outcomes: short interrupted time series analysis (ITS) and regression discontinuity (RD). An RD approach will be employed to investigate differences in student outcomes for students who do and do not complete Algebra II. An ITS approach will be used to investigate differences in student outcomes for students who entered high school pre- and post- policy. RD strengthens the ITS by providing a within-cohort comparison, while ITS strengthens the RD by comparing results pre- and post-policy.

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