Houston Schools Host House Bill 5 Community Meetings

July 2014 | Houston, Texas
BY: Amy Williams

As part of Education Service Center 4’s efforts to educate Texas parents and students on the new graduation plans required by House Bill 5, Houston Independent School District (HISD) high schools have held community meetings throughout the latter part of the school year and early summer to simplify and highlight this statewide initiative.

Worthing High School, among others, hosted a family-focused community meeting, which served to educate both parents and students on changes they could expect. A brief yet informative video was shown, which explained House Bill 5’s overall concepts. New terms such as career surveys, distinguished level of achievement, and endorsements were all explained. Brita Lindsey, Manager of Student Records at HISD, was the main presenter at Worthing High School’s community meeting.

“The initiative of House Bill 5 is to get our students College and Career Ready,” said Lindsey. “The story they tell while they are in high school should prepare them for their post-secondary future.”

Although select students may gain approval to graduate with the 22 credit Foundation Plan, HISD is encouraging their students to graduate with the defaulted Distinguished Level of Achievement (DLA). This will require students to complete the Foundation Graduation Plan, plus take an additional 4 credit hours in a certain area of interest. These interest-based credits are called endorsements. Endorsements serve to prepare students for their post-secondary or workforce experience and will be offered in five areas:

  1. Math, science, and technology
  2. Business and industry
  3. Fine arts
  4. Public services
  5. Multidisciplinary

Students who graduate with DLA will also be required to take Algebra 2.  

“We live in a highly technological society, so in order to prepare our students for post-secondary experience – not just college but in the work force – they need higher ordered math skills,” said Lindsey.

Lindsey also took time to explain the benefits of parents and their students choosing the DLA graduation plan. When a student chooses the DLA plan, they will become eligible for automatic admission into state universities if they graduate in the top 10-percent of their classes. In addition, their diploma will be eligible to include Performance Acknowledgements, which are listings of outstanding achievements during their secondary years. A few examples of performance acknowledgments that might be listed on a student’s diploma and transcripts could include the following:

  1. Dual credit courses
  2. Scoring over a certain level on the PSAT, ACT-Plan, SAT, or ACT
  3. Earning a nationally or internationally recognized business or industry certification or license

“Now colleges and universities want more of the story than just what you do in the classroom, and I think House Bill 5 has done a wonderful job of allowing us to paint that picture and tell a story in an organized way,” said Lindsey.

To learn more about House Bill 5 and what it means for your students, visit TXCCRN’s House Bill 5 resource page