House Bill 3: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I’ve heard that the full 5% school districts could receive for G/T programming has been moved to the basic allotment to streamline the funding formulas. Isn’t that simpler?
  2. House Bill 3 provides more funding for public schools. Isn’t this good for all kids?
  3. How do we know HB3 repeals the allotment? I don’t see that in the bill.
  4. Is HB3 in its finished form?
  5. How do we know this will negatively affect G/T programs?
  6. Is there anything TAGT supports in HB3?
  7. Is the G/T allotment worth arguing about? Don’t other benefits in the bill outweigh this allotment?
  8. But HB3 would give local districts the opportunity to make conscious decisions related to all regular and special academic programs. Isn’t that a good thing?
  9. G/T kids will be fine on their own. Why do they need money for special services?

I’ve heard that the full 5% school districts could receive for G/T programming has been moved to the basic allotment to streamline the funding formulas. Isn’t that simpler?

In the current Texas Code, the .12 weight up to 5% of average daily attendance (ADA) is funding that districts receive and MUST spend on G/T services (TEC 42.156). Of that funding, no more than 45% of state funds allocated for gifted/talented education is spent on gifted/talented related indirect costs and at least 55% of the funds allocated to gifted/talented education is spent on assessment and services for gifted students (19 TAC §105.11).
 
In the new plan, there is no requirement to spend any minimum amount of funds on the G/T program, services, or students.
 
In addition, the new section of code that requires districts to “certify to the commissioner that the district has established a program for gifted and talented students” is vague and concerning. To simply establish a program does not guarantee quality services. It will be completely up to the district on how they spend any money that is “rolled up” in the basic allotment.
 
Simply put, the current state plan for providing G/T programming provides plenty of room for local control and decisions. The current allotment provides minimum funding levels guaranteed to support these programs and must stay in place.


House Bill 3 provides more funding for public schools. Isn’t this good for all kids?

 
TAGT supports the basic allotment going up, but without dedicated funding, G/T programs are at risk of being deemphasized. Also, funding previously used to support specific curriculum and programming to meet these students’ needs may be diverted to other programs.
As currently stated, HB3 would raise the basic allotment for all schools. The G/T allotment would be repealed in lieu of the basic allotment, meaning no direct requirements to fund G/T programs will be in place.
Therefore, TAGT asks Texas legislators to remove mention of the G/T allotment (Section 42.156) from the list of Texas Education Code sections up for repeal within Article 3, Section 3.001 of House Bill 3.
 
How do we know HB3 repeals the allotment? I don’t see that in the bill.
 
HB3 does repeal the G/T allotment. To clarify, the G/T allotment is a .12 weight on the basic allotment provided to school districts, for up to 5% of students identified as gifted and talented. The G/T allotment is laid out in the Texas Education Code (TEC), Section 42.156. On page 184 (of the PDF version) of House Bill 3, within Article 3, Section 3.001, you can find a list of sections within the TEC that would be repealed as part of HB3. On this list of repealed items is TEC Section 42.156. (In other words, the list of repealed items does not specifically state “G/T allotment”—you have to match the TEC code (Section 42.156) that is commonly known as the G/T allotment to the list of codes included for repeal in the bill.)

Is HB3 in its finished form?
 
No. HB3 is in its early stages. The bill is still in committee at this stage. After public testimony, the House Public Education Committee has the opportunity to consider revisions to the bill. This is why it’s so important that they hear from constituents about how this bill includes consequences such as repealing the G/T allotment. This bill would then go to the House floor for consideration, review, and edits. If passed by majority vote, the bill is sent to the Senate.
 
How do we know this will negatively affect G/T programs?
 
Other states have made similar funding changes in the past for gifted education programs, with unexpected consequences. For example, in 2009, the state of Ohio chose to move their G/T funds to its general education funds. As a result, complaints of inequities in G/T services increased to such extent over the next 9 years that in 2018, the Ohio General Assembly mandated the Ohio Education Agency to conduct a research study on the costs of G/T programming within the state. The study reached two important conclusions:
  1. Students in need of services were no longer being identified: “Within this picture, there is a lower rate of identification and there may be under-identification of students in poor rural (12.7 percent), urban (8.8 percent) and major urban (9.7 percent) school districts.”
  2. Program accountability needed to be improved: “Ohio’s school funding formula provides funding for gifted education. However, this funding flows into school district general funds without a requirement that these resources be spent exclusively for their intended gifted education purpose. Fiscal and programmatic accountability would be increased by stipulating that state gifted funding must be based on the number of students identified and/or served and that these funds be used exclusively for gifted education provided by school districts or through sanctioned outsourcing. Foundation funds currently earmarked for use by educational service centers (ESC) for gifted education could be treated in the same manner.”
 
More information on this study and its results can be found here. However, the results of this study show that Texas could run the risk of underidentifying G/T students in Texas without funding, along with possible issues of fiscal and program accountability.
 
Is there anything TAGT supports in HB3?
 
Yes, in many ways, House Bill 3 is a positive step forward for public education. TAGT recognizes the leadership of Representative Huberty and other State Representatives in working to increase funding for public education. Section 1.023(m) of House Bill 3 adds funding to Subchapter D in the form of mileage reimbursement for schools that must transport students to dual-credit programs outside of the district when courses are not available on campus. These and other additions are positive steps for school funding.
 
Is the G/T allotment worth arguing about? Don’t other benefits in the bill outweigh this allotment?
 
The G/T allotment is worth $165 million—a small amount for legislators to add back into the bill. That funding, however, is vital to many schools to help them identify and serve their G/T students. Many small districts and Title I schools rely on this funding to keep their G/T programs going—without the funding, they are at risk of losing or downgrading programs and services that are necessary for these students with special learning needs. As noted by the National Association for Gifted Children, “In states without state funds for gifted students, education for gifted and talented students can continue only in communities that can provide the services without state or federal help” (emphasis added). Simply put, Texas communities that cannot provide services without the assistance of the current G/T allotment are at risk of losing services and not providing for G/T students’ needs.  
Further, research by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation shows that high-ability students in low-income areas have a disparity in their academic performance levels when compared to students in higher income areas. As the foundation notes, “America’s very smart, low-income students increasingly fall to the margins as they progress through school, and far too many are discouraged from pursuing a college degree, especially at one of our select colleges and universities.”
TAGT firmly believes that every child deserves to receive an education requisite with his or her learning needs—no matter where he or she lives. The G/T funding helps protect programs statewide and further fund Texas’s future.
 
But HB3 would give local districts the opportunity to make conscious decisions related to all regular and special academic programs. Isn’t that a good thing?
 
Opportunity to make conscious decisions can be a good thing, but it also puts G/T programs at risk of being deemphasized or underfunded in some schools. G/T students are often seen as being “fine on their own” (see next question) or not needing special services. Research studies have shown this is not true—gifted and talented education is not a “badge of honor,” but an educational diagnosis. Like other special populations that would receive funding under HB3, gifted students have unique learning needs and deserve curriculum and instruction that fits these needs. Leaving funding for G/T programs in the hands of school decision makers and their personal opinions will not always create the best results for G/T students. This also sets up communities in need with hard decisions about how to spend their funding; decisions that may not always be fair or recognize the needs of G/T students. Further, other special needs areas are funded by the state—why should the special needs of gifted students not be handled in the same manner?
Additionally, the Texas Department of Education is already under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education for misidentification and underidentification of special needs students. If G/T programs are deemphasized in schools, Texas runs the risk of further missing students in need of identification as gifted and talented. Currently, Texas has one of the most diverse gifted education populations in the nation and removing the G/T allotment would potentially have a greater impact on students of color and students who are economically disadvantaged who rely on their schools to provide those academic services.
 
G/T kids will be fine on their own. Why do they need money for special services?
 
A major study conducted by the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented at the University of Connecticut, noted that “Gifted students can master the curriculum in less than 1/2 the time of their nongifted peers” (Reis et al., 1993). When students can master learning quicker than their peers without being given opportunities for education at their level, the resulting boredom and lack of challenge can lead to underachievement by students, potentially resulting in dropping out or unhealthy study and work habits.
Some argue that teachers should be held accountable for challenging all students in the regular classroom. However, a national study conducted by the Fordham Institute (Farkas, Duffett, & Loveless, 2008) found that 58% of teachers have received no professional development focused on teaching academically advanced students in the past few years and 73% of teachers agreed that “Too often, the brightest students are bored and under-challenged in school—we’re not giving them a sufficient chance to thrive.”
Gifted students will not be fine on their own, and many research studies have shown this to be the case. A collection of important research reports on gifted education can be accessed here.