Implementation of College and Career Readiness in Texas: A Case Study of How Stakeholders Make Sense of House Bill 5
Background: Texas House Bill 5 (2013) changed graduation requirements across the state by requiring that students select a career path or endorsement as they enter high school. Over the past five years, central office leaders across the state have been working to implement this legislation. According to a recent evaluation commissioned by the state, however, historically marginalized students are not predicted to meet the new graduation expectations of completing an endorsement. Meeting the needs of all learners is required by state and federal legislation. We need to learn what was necessary to meet the needs of all students. Purpose: The goals of the study are to use sensemaking to understand how district and campus administrators, teachers, and staff in one high achieving suburban school district have interpreted and implemented House Bill 5, and to understand stakeholder perceptions about implementation. Methods: A comparative case study of two high schools within a single district was used. District leaders, counselors, building administrators, and teachers directly involved with students declaring or fulfilling their endorsement pathways were interviewed. Data were coded using the seven Saldaña first cycle coding types, then flexible subcoding to examine emerging themes across campuses while searching for means to improve the system based on stakeholder perceptions. Results: Analyzing stakeholder sensemaking of HB5 demonstrated that teachers, counselors, and administrators at both high schools agreed to varying degrees that HB5 was successfully implemented. Counselors, however, were deeply concerned about the changes in their duties. Their new focus was on students meeting HB5 requirements, which detracted from supporting the social-emotional well-being of their students. Counselor caseloads of 500 or more students meant that they had to focus their time supporting graduation requirements alone. In addition, all stakeholders were taxed to meet the needs of the community, and communication patterns exhibited evidence of implicit racial bias. Recommendations: Districts need to adjust their awareness of actual community diversity reducing reliance on the limited ethnic tracking required by the state with a focus on effective, culturally and linguistically appropriate dissemination of information. The home language survey provides a means for understanding linguistic needs but does not offer information about country of origin. It is time districts gather family information necessary to establish and maintain a means of communicating with every family and not make excuses for communication failures.