What You Need to Know: 88th Texas Legislative Session

Mar 15, 2023

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By Trista Bishop-Watt

Manager of Policy, Good Reason Houston


We are in the thick of the 88th Texas Legislative Session. Legislators have filed over 1,000 education-related bills, which are being assigned to committees. Now is the point in the legislative process where our elected officials are engaging stakeholders in public hearings. As the Legislature is having policy discussions, here is what we have our eye on: 

1. Preserving A Robust and Transparent Academic Assessments and Accountability System

Students, families, and communities deserve an academic accountability system that measures student academic success, public school quality, and illuminates where to target needed resources. 

2. Teacher Pipelines that Elevate Effective Educators 

To support a strong pipeline for recruiting effective educators, we must increase transparency in accountability data for educator preparation programs and incentivize teacher residencies and grow-your-own programs across diverse preparation models. 

3. Sustained Data-Backed, Student-Focused Reforms to Improve Student Outcomes

Two sessions ago, HB 3 funded data-backed, student-focused reforms designed to improve student outcomes. Maintaining funding for HB 3’s focus on closing learning gaps is more important than ever as pandemic-related learning loss has further exacerbated learning gaps.

4. Strong Foundations with High Quality Early Learning

Early education is critical to later success, which underscores the need for incentives to use research-backed tools in the classroom designed to promote effective, engaging interactions and environments that are foundational to early learning. 

5. A Focus on High-Quality Instructional Materials. 

A high-quality curriculum is a researched-backed strategy to improve student outcomes. Streamlining evaluation of material quality and supporting school adoption will increase  the number of students who have access to materials that are on grade level and effective. 

Other hot topics we’re seeing this session include school safety, accelerated learning to address pandemic-related learning loss, parental rights, and property tax reduction. 

Committee Work

On February 28 and March 1 respectively, the House Public Education and Senate Education Committees had their first public hearings, which included presentations from Mike Morath, Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), John Scott, TEA Chief of School Safety and Security, and Kathy Martinez-Prather, Director of the Texas School Safety Center.  

Commissioner Morath shared that only 51% of students are on target for reading in third grade and only 43% are on grade level in math. While we are seeing growth from pandemic years, this still leaves well over 500,000 students in grades 3-8 falling behind and in need of support. Meanwhile, teacher vacancies have increased significantly, with attrition over 11% last school year.

Discussion on the Senate side focused significantly on accelerated learning, which was codified by HB 4545 in 2021, and teacher retention. Sen. Paxton announced an intention to file a bill to make improvements to the process for HB 4545 tutoring interventions and Chair Creighton signaled their intention to file a “Teacher Bill of Rights” to address compensation and other concerns teachers have raised. Iterations of both bills have since been filed.

Since these initial meetings, both committees have met twice to hear testimony on bills covering several areas, including discipline, safety, and health. Notably, the House Public Education Committee discussed HB 1416, which addresses law concerning tutoring for students who faced learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill more narrowly targets high-impact tutoring to reading and math and provides school districts with more flexibility while still maintaining a necessary low teacher-to-student tutoring ratio for maximum impact. 

The House Public Education committee will continue to meet on Tuesdays and the Senate Education committee will meet on Wednesdays. The schedule is available online and public hearings are streamed live for both the House and Senate.


Stay Up-to-date Texas Legislators are busy making decisions that will impact Texas students and public education throughout our state. Session is scheduled to run through May 29, 2023. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, visit our policy page, and follow us on social media for updates and action items for all things public education this legislative session.