In the 2013 Texas legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed language in HB 5 that limits pull-out of students from one class for remediation in another. Below are details to help you understand what the law requires:
What the Law Says
In the section of the education code relevant to school day interruptions (Section 25.083), it specifically states the following. This section is effective starting with the 2013–2014 school year:
The board of trustees of each school district shall adopt and strictly enforce a policy limiting the removal of students from class for remedial tutoring or test preparation. A district may not remove a student from a regularly scheduled class for remedial tutoring or test preparation if, as a result of the removal, the student would miss more than 10 percent of the school days on which the class is offered, unless the student’s parent or another person standing in parental relation to the student provides to the district written consent for removal from class for such purpose.
What Is New
- The parent must be involved in the decision to extend a student’s absence beyond 10% of the days the class is offered.
- This limitation applies to students in grades K–12.
- The school board must adopt and enforce a policy to limit student removal for test preparation or remediation.
What It Means
This language requires local boards of education to both recognize and address the issue. Further, it states that parents must be involved in the decision-making process of extending the days a student is removed for the express purpose of remediation and test preparation. No longer can the principal or counselor make that decision on his or her own.
In the section of the code that speaks to minimum attendance for class credit [25.092 (a)-(d)], the language has been amended to clearly state that this ten percent limitation without parent permission applies to grades K–12, and it addresses not just credit but credit or final grade. Since only high schools deal with credits, middle and elementary school principals quite often have interpreted the law to mean that it did not apply to them or their students, despite the fact that TEA legal counsel had ruled that credit and grade were synonymous in law. Again, the law now clearly states that a student may not receive credit or final grade if they exceed the absence limits without parental consent.
Where It Started
As a brief history, prior to 2005 there had been language in the law allowing any student to miss class ten percent of the days a class meets and still receive credit. In 2007, that statute was amended to state that a principal could extend that to 25 percent of the days the class meets if the principal puts a plan in place for the student to meet the instructional requirements of the class. The purpose of that law was to help students with extenuating health or personal family problems who could not attend school for extended periods of time. The bill specifically stated it was to prevent these students from getting discouraged and dropping out of school. Unfortunately, this same language has been used by administrators to remove students from the very classes that quite often keep students in school, and in many cases a class in which the student has interest and is experiencing success. Ironically, the way some administrators have used the ten percent language has in fact produced the very result it was intended to prevent—dropping out and giving up.