#By Chloe Latham Sikes, Ph.D., & Lizdelia Piñón, Ed.D. • Learning Goes On • September 2, 2022 •

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all students’ learning. In response, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 4545 to address accelerated learning for Texas students in third grade and up. Yet districts, educators, education partners and parents report difficulty implementing the bill.

HB 4545 imposed new accelerated learning requirements for students who did not perform satisfactorily on their 2021 STAAR tests in third through eighth grade or on their high school STAAR end-of-course exams.

Eligible students must either:
Be assigned a certified master, exemplary or recognized teacher; or
Complete 30 hours of tutoring in small groups for each STAAR exam the student failed.

For example, a seventh-grade student who did not meet expectations on their reading and math STAAR exams must complete 60 hours of tutoring outside of core class time.

Many districts report that, while embedded tutoring offers benefits, HB 4545 creates more hurdles to student success and teachers’ instructional and preparation time. Educators, parents and other experts expressed concerns to the Texas Legislature that HB 4545 strains students’ learning time and adds to staffing challenges.

The bill also relies on a “one size fits all” approach of small-group, intensive tutoring instead of a broader array of student supports and interventions to address students’ learning needs. The flat tutoring hour requirement does not account for how many or which questions a student missed on the state exam.

What can parents do if they have concerns about and/or questions about HB 4545?
As this new school begins, the partnership between families and schools is of the utmost importance. Many parents are asking school districts and school leaders more specific questions about HB 4545 and what educators will be doing to help their child’s learning recovery.

Parents can get answers on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website. TEA has provided HB 4545 frequently asked questions and videos to help answer many of those questions. Also see TEA’s High Impact Tutoring Toolkit.

Overall, schools need more flexibility, support and guidance to accomplish the goals of high-impact tutoring for accelerated learning.

[©2022, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2022, edition of Learning is Power by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]