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TEA Correspondence

A Microsoft Word Version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.

 

 

INFORMATION ONLY

January 3, 2005

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

Subject: Optional Flexible School Year Program (SB 346)

In 2003, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 346, which provides for an alternative flexible year program. This bill added a new section 29.0821 to the Education Code, describing a program that would allow school districts to reduce instructional days to some students in order to enable a school district to provide extra instructional time to other students whose educational needs are greater.

For the 2003-04 school year, the Texas Education Agency provided information on implementation of this program through its legislative briefing book and presentations by staff in various settings. The agency interpreted the program to require that instructional days could be reduced for students performing at acceptable levels only if the instructional days for students in need of services were increased beyond the standard 180 days of instruction. After further discussions with the author of the bill, the agency is changing its interpretation.

Effective with the 2004-05 school year, school districts may request a reduction in instructional days for students who have performed successfully on TAKS or are likely to perform successfully when the examination is administered. Instructional days for qualified students may not be reduced below 170 as a result of this flexible year program. The number of instructional days for students who did not or are not likely to perform successfully on TAKS, or who are not likely to be promoted to the next grade level, may not be less than 180, but there will be no requirement to extend the instructional days to more than that number. The reduction in days may take place at any time in the school calendar, and need not occur at the end of a year. The funding of the abbreviated year under the Foundation School Program for qualified students will be the same as for a full year, and districts will be instructed to reduce the reported days taught in attendance reporting to accomplish this.

The agency is initiating a rule-making action to provide more structure and guidance to the program. School districts will be required to apply in writing to the State Funding Division for permission to reduce instructional days for qualified students, although there will be no specific application form. Districts should be prepared to provide evaluations or other demonstrations of success for their approach if requested.

Until the rules are published and the application process clarified, districts may direct questions to the State Funding Division at (512) 463-9238.

Sincerely,


Joe Wisnoski, Deputy Associate Commissioner for
School Finance and Fiscal Analysis


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