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TEA News Releases Online Aug. 11, 2014

AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Michael Williams announced today that the Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission, has made available a graduation toolkit for students, parents and school counselors.

The toolkit provides essential information regarding the new graduation plan under House Bill 5, which was passed by the Texas Legislature last year. House Bill 5 provides for a more flexible graduation program for all students who enter high school beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Commissioner Williams believes that information and early planning are now critical steps for all students and parents in preparing for high school and beyond.

“Students now have more choices, which means parents and students must begin exploring their high school options as early as eighth grade,” said Commissioner Williams. “This toolkit, which is available in English and Spanish, offers an excellent overview of the new state graduation requirements and endorsements, as well as vital information for postsecondary plans for college or the workforce.”

The graduation toolkit provides a summary of the state’s new graduation plan and descriptions of the five potential endorsements that can now be offered by high schools, as well as a checklist to begin planning for high school and beyond.

The toolkit offers students and parents an overview of the benefits to pursuing the Distinguished Level of Achievement graduation plan. House Bill 5 called on the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission to collaborate in touting the Distinguished Level benefits. Benefits of the Distinguished Level include:

  • Allowing a high school graduate to compete for top 10 percent automatic admission eligibility at any Texas public university;
  • Positioning a high school graduate (who is financially qualified) to be first in line for a Texas Grant to help pay for university tuition and fees; and
  • Ensuring a high school graduate will be a more competitive applicant at the most selective colleges and universities.

“It is critical for students and parents to be well informed on the changes to high school graduation plans so they can make thoughtful decisions early,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes. “This toolkit is designed to guide students and families through the benefits of each pathway to increase the likelihood of preparation and success in college and the workforce.”

The toolkit also includes information on various workforce resources provided through the Texas Workforce Commission. All these resources are geared toward assisting students and parents in planning for any postsecondary goals for college or career.

“I encourage students, parents, and school counselors to use this toolkit as a starting point for discussions about their students’ future endeavors,” said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar.  “This excellent resource will assist Texas students as they plan their high school years and postsecondary careers.”

The graduation toolkit is available online for electronic use or printing. To view the graduation toolkit, visit http://www.tea.state.tx.us/brochures/.