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Summary: SB 1509 would include college readiness standards as a requirement for a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics course (STEM) as well as a dual credit course in a school district. In addition, under current law, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the effort to provide college readiness develops programs that prepare students for STEM courses and prepares faculty through professional development to educate students. This legislation would require identifying these programs in addition to developing them.
Lastly, current law requires a general academic teaching institution to notify a student who has received 90 cumulative credit hours that the process to determine their eligibility for receiving an associate's degree from their former lower-division institution of higher education will begin. SB 1509 would change the point at which a student is notified to 66 cumulative credit hours.
Analysis: SB 1509 would make administrative changes to prepare students for college. We advise the Legislature to amend this part of the bill to include requiring the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, since they are responsible for monitoring higher education course schedules, to ensure that institutions would not use SB 1509 as a way to expand required remedial education for students who do not meet college readiness standards.
Lastly, the provision in this legislation that would lower credit hours for an associate's degree is also provided in HB 774, a bill that we supported earlier this session. This provision would increase transparency by changing the threshold for requiring that students be notified of their potential eligibility for an associate's degree. By notifying students of their options at a more appropriate credit hour threshold, this bill would allow students to potentially obtain an associate's degree and make career decisions sooner than they might under current law.
We encourage the Legislature to amend SB 1509 to prevent the new readiness standards from forming a basis for expanding required remedial courses and vote in support after amending.