Several bills that would make changes to virtual or online education in Texas have been making their way through the legislative process. HB 1926 by Representative Ken King, passed the House on third reading on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Below are some of the provisions of this bill.
- A school district or open-enrollment charter would be able to deny paying for a student to take a course via the TxVSN if the district offers a substantially similar course.
- A school district or open-enrollment charter would not be required to pay for a student to take more than three year-long courses during any school year via the TxVSN. However, a student could elect to take more than three courses within a year at their own expense.
- TEA would be required to create a system in which districts may list distance learning courses the district offers and is seeking to inform other districts of the availability of their distance learning courses. The commissioner would not be able to set the price for the courses. It appears these courses would not be offered through the TxVSN.
- A nonprofit entity or private entity would be allowed to offer courses through the TxVSN if they possess prior successful experience offering online courses to elementary, middle, junitor high, or high school students and they meet all the requirements established by the administering authority.
- Open-enrollment charters would be course providers in the TxVSN if they are rated acceptable or higher and would serve only students within their service area. However, they would be able to offer courses outside their service area if they had an agreement with the student’s district to do so.
- The state would have the authority to enter into a reciprocity agreement with one or more states to facilitate expedited course approvals as long as the courses meet the state curriculum requirements.
- A course provider could not offer inducements such as equipment or anything of value to entice a student to take a course via the TxVSN.
- Additional reporting requirements for course providers would be established in HB 1926.
- The maximum cost which is currently at $400, was left unchanged by the bill.
HB 1926 will now go to the Senate for their consideration. SB 1298 authored by Senator Hegar was voted out of the Senate Education Committee but has not yet come up for a vote on the Senate floor. These two bills are not companion bills although they have a few similar features. At this time it is not known if HB 1926 will become the vehicle for changes to virtual education in Texas.