September 2016 Committee on Instruction Item 3

Proposed Amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, §89.42, Official Testing Centers
(First Reading and Filing Authorization)

September 16, 2016

COMMITTEE ON INSTRUCTION: ACTION
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION: ACTION

SUMMARY:
This item presents for first reading and filing authorization proposed amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, §89.42, Official Testing Centers. The proposed amendment would expand the entities eligible to serve as official paper-based testing centers and define the requirements for paper-based testing centers.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY: Texas Education Code (TEC), §7.111.

TEC, §7.111, requires the State Board of Education (SBOE) to adopt rules to develop and deliver high school equivalency examinations and provide for the administration of the examinations online.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The proposed effective date of the proposed amendment is 20 days after filing as adopted with the Texas Register. Under TEC, §7.102(f), the SBOE must approve the rule action at second reading and final adoption by a vote of two-thirds of its members to specify an effective date earlier than the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. The earlier effective date will allow the agency to increase flexibility for test takers as soon as possible.

PREVIOUS BOARD ACTION: The SBOE adopted 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, effective September 1, 1996. Rules in 19 TAC Chapter 89, Subchapter C, including §89.42, were last amended effective August 21, 2016.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND SIGNIFICANT ISSUES: At the September 2013 meeting, the board approved for second reading and final adoption proposed amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, to update the rules, including the expansion of eligible entities that may apply to become testing centers and the change in the fee structure.

Beginning in January 2014, all tests administered as part of the Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, with the exception of tests provided by correctional institutions, transitioned from paper-based tests to computer-based tests.

On January 5, 2015, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP). Responses were due to the TEA on February 17, 2015. At the April 2015 SBOE meeting, the TEA staff presented the results of the RFP. The SBOE requested that the TEA extend the existing provider's Memorandum of Understanding for six months beyond the expiration date and begin the development of a new RFP to potentially identify multiple test providers.

At the July 2015 meeting, the board approved a decision matrix of requirements to be included in a future RFP. During the September 2015 meeting, the board approved the competitive RFP to be released in fall 2015. On October 6, 2015, the TEA released a competitive RFP. Responses were due to the TEA on November 17, 2015.

On January 29, 2016, the board voted to award contracts to three separate companies to provide high school equivalency assessments in Texas. The three companies are Data Recognition Corporation, Educational Testing Service, and GED® Testing Service.

At the July 2016 meeting, the board approved for second reading and final adoption proposed amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, to update the rules, including provisions relating to official testing centers, test taker eligibility, accommodations for examinees with disabilities, and the issuance of high school equivalency certificates. In response to public comments on the proposed amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Subchapter C, the Committee on Instruction asked staff to present a future item that would authorize additional entities as paper-based testing centers.

The proposed amendment to 19 TAC §89.42, shown as Attachment II, would expand the entities eligible to serve as official paper-based testing centers and define the requirements for paper-based testing centers.

Although the proposed amendment was not formally presented as a discussion item, the inclusion of additional entities as paper-based testing centers was discussed by the committee at its July 2016 meeting. As authorized under its operating procedures, the SBOE may wish to consider this item for first reading and filing authorization. Therefore, this item is presented for first reading and filing authorization consideration at this meeting to increase flexibility for test takers as soon as possible.

FISCAL IMPACT: The TEA has determined that there are no additional costs to persons or entities required to comply with the proposed rule action. In addition, there is no direct adverse economic impact for small businesses and microbusinesses; therefore, no regulatory flexibility analysis, specified in Texas Government Code, §2006.002, is required. There is no effect on local economy for the first five years that the proposed amendment is in effect; therefore, no local employment impact statement is required under Texas Government Code, §2001.022.

PUBLIC AND STUDENT BENEFIT: Benefits include added flexibility in test options and locations for individuals to access the test.

PROCEDURAL AND REPORTING IMPLICATIONS: A testing center that wishes to administer a paper-based test will be required to certify that it will make certain documentation available on request by the TEA, which may include a written description of the testing center management structure, a description and photographs of the facility, assurances regarding test security, procedures for administering the test, an emergency plan, and any changes impacting operations. In addition, the center will be required to provide certain information to the test vendor.

LOCALLY MAINTAINED PAPERWORK REQUIREMENTS: Any documentation required to be kept would correspond with the reporting requirements described previously.

PUBLIC COMMENTS:
The official public comment period will begin when the proposal is published in the Texas Register.

ALTERNATIVES: None.

OTHER COMMENTS AND RELATED ISSUES: A request for a public hearing on the proposal submitted under the Administrative Procedure Act must be received by the commissioner of education not more than 14 calendar days after notice of the proposal has been published in the Texas Register.

An action item on the Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency is presented as a separate item in this agenda.

MOTION TO BE CONSIDERED: The State Board of Education:

Suspend the board operating procedures in accordance with §5.2(a) to allow consideration at first reading and filing authorization; and

Approve for first reading and filing authorization the proposed amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, §89.42, Official Testing Centers.

Staff Members Responsible:
Monica Martinez, Associate Commissioner
Standards and Support Services

Stacy Avery, Director
Texas Initiatives

Attachments:
I. Statutory Citation (PDF, 14KB)
II. Text of Proposed Amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter C, Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency, §89.42, Official Testing Centers (PDF, 22KB)