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IES Grant

Title: Evaluation of the Texas House Bill 3 Financial Aid Application Requirement for High School Graduation
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Stoker, Ginger Awardee: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Program: Improving Education Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (09/01/2021 – 08/31/2025) Award Amount: $1,668,959
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A210271
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Mellor, Lynn

Purpose: This mixed-methods study will examine implementation and outcomes associated with enactment of a statewide policy requiring financial aid application completion as a high school graduation requirement. The specific goals of the project are to (1) examine how the financial aid application graduation requirement is being implemented in public school districts across Texas; (2) examine whether different implementation approaches are associated with higher financial aid application completion rates, and whether rates differ across student subgroups; (3) assess associations between the financial aid application graduation requirement and student outcomes including high school graduation, 2-year and 4-year college enrollment, and 2-year and 4-year college persistence; and (4) examine the development and coordination of resources and supports for this new requirement from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Texas public school districts, and regional education service centers.

Project Activities: The research team will conduct site visits to 25 public high schools across Texas to collect survey data from grade 12 students and conduct interviews with counselors and principals. The research team will also conduct interviews with staff from TEA and the 20 Texas regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) and administer a statewide counselor survey. In addition, the research team will conduct analyses of administrative data to assess associations between implementation of the policy and students' high school and postsecondary outcomes.

Products: The research team will provide Texas and national education policymakers, practitioners, and researchers with practical information regarding implementation of a statewide financial aid graduation requirement, how implementation of the policy varies across schools and districts, the means through which the policy is supported by the state education system, and how implementation of the policy is related to students' high school and postsecondary outcomes. The research team will disseminate findings to TEA, THECB, and public schools and districts participating in the study. The team will also present findings to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners at conferences, through webinars, and in peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The project takes place in all public high school districts and open enrollment charter schools in Texas.

Sample: The study focuses on the population of grade 12 students enrolled in Texas public schools and open-enrollment charter schools during the 2021–22, 2022–23, and 2023–24 school years. These cohorts represent the first three cohort of students who are subject to the House Bill 3 (HB 3) financial aid graduation requirement.

Intervention: Beginning with grade 12 students in the 2021–22 school year, the HB 3 financial aid graduation requirement requires students to complete a financial aid application or opt out form in order to graduate from a Texas public high school or open-enrollment charter school.

Research Design and Methods: This mixed-methods study includes (1) a descriptive study examining implementation of the HB 3 financial aid application graduation requirement in high schools across Texas and (2) a correlational study using administrative data to evaluate associations between the HB 3 financial aid graduation requirement and students' high school and postsecondary outcomes. The implementation study includes interviews with high school principals and counselors, TEA staff, and ESC staff; surveys of grade 12 students; and a statewide survey of high school counselors. The administrative data analysis uses statewide data from seven cohorts of grade 12 students (four cohorts pre-policy and three cohorts post-policy).

Control Condition: This exploration study employs a comparison group composed of four cohorts of grade 12 students who were enrolled in Texas public schools and open-enrollment charter schools during the four years prior to implementation of the HB 3 financial aid application graduation requirement—the 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, and 2020–21 school years.

Key Measures: Student outcomes include high school graduation, college enrollment, 2-year college enrollment, 4-year college enrollment, college persistence, 2-year college persistence, and 4-year college persistence.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will  use descriptive statistics and an interrupted time series design to investigate associations between implementation of the HB 3 financial aid application graduation requirement and students' high school and postsecondary outcomes. The team will  also examine whether outcomes differ for students from minoritized racial/ethnic minority groups and economically disadvantaged family backgrounds.

Related IES Projects: This project is related to an ongoing IES-funded project, An Evaluation of the New Texas High School Graduation Requirements (R305H170006).


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