November 14, 2019 Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund Item 2

Approval of Costs to Administer the 2019–2020 State-Developed Assessments to Private School Students

November 15, 2019


SUMMARY: Texas Education Code, §39.033, allows a private school to voluntarily assess its students with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) and the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) assessments. The State Board of Education (SBOE) must approve the per-student cost to private schools, which may not exceed the cost of administering the same assessment to a student enrolled in a public-school district. This item requests approval of these costs for the 2019–2020 school year.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY: Texas Education Code (TEC), §39.033

TEC, §39.033 states that through an agreement with TEA, private schools may administer adopted assessment instruments if private schools reimburse TEA the cost for administering the assessment. The per-student cost of administering adopted assessments is determined by the State Board of Education.

PREVIOUS BOARD ACTION: In November 2018, the SBOE approved the costs of administering the STAAR and TELPAS assessments to private school students for the 2018–2019 school year.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND JUSTIFICATION: Since the spring 1996 test administration, private schools, including home schools, have been eligible to participate on a voluntary basis in the Texas assessment program. During the 2018–2019 school year, participation in these voluntary assessments for grades 3 through 12 involved 26 private schools and 4,802 students. The attachment lists the 2018–2019 participating private schools.

Under TEC, §39.033, private schools that administer the tests must enter into an agreement with the Texas Education Agency. The agreement requires private schools, as determined appropriate by the commissioner of education, to provide the commissioner the information listed in TEC, §39.053(c) and §39.301(c), which includes information to be used as indicators of academic performance, and to maintain confidentiality as required under TEC, §39.030. Private schools that participate in the assessments must provide reimbursement for the cost of administering the assessments, which may not exceed the per-student cost of administering the same assessment to a student enrolled in a public-school district. In addition, participating private schools must agree to test all eligible students and to administer the primary form of all subject-area tests available for a particular grade.  

A critical component of the contract with private schools is the per-student cost for each instrument, which must be determined by the SBOE. The attachment displays the per-student cost for each test that will be available to private schools in the 2019–2020 school year. These figures were derived by taking the costs from the agency's contract for fiscal year 2019 and dividing by the number of testing booklets for each grade and test administered during the 2018–2019 school year. Using this method for determining the per-student cost ensures that the cost for assessing a private school student will not exceed the per-student cost for administering the same test to a public-school student. Costs cover developing tests and ancillary materials; printing, packaging, and shipping test materials; scoring tests; and reporting results. The attachment also provides assurances from both ETS and Pearson, the assessment vendors, that these costs do not exceed per-student test costs for the public schools.

FISCAL IMPACT: The figures provided in the attachment cover the costs of administering the STAAR and TELPAS assessments. There are no additional fiscal implications.

PUBLIC BENEFIT AND COST TO PERSONS: Both the public and students will benefit from the approval of these private school testing cost figures. Private schools can administer state-developed tests and use test results for program planning and as a guide for individual student remediation. Public schools will benefit in that students entering public school systems from private schools may have test scores available on the same instruments for which public schools are held accountable.

DATA AND REPORTING IMPACT: Private schools choosing to administer the statewide tests must agree to follow standard procedures for test administration, maintain security and confidentiality, and report to the commissioner their test results and other information outlined in TEC, §39.053(c) and §39.301(c).

MOTION TO BE CONSIDERED: The State Board of Education:

Approve the per-student costs for administering the state assessments to private school students in 2019–2020 as listed in the attachment.

Staff Member Responsible: 
Julie Guthrie, Director of Policy and Publications, Student Assessment

Attachment:        Letter of Assurance from ETS and Pearson, Spring 2019 Participating Private Schools, and Recommended Costs for Administering Assessments to Private School Students for 2019–2020