Policy

E3 Alliance’s advocacy priorities provide a broad policy framework for implementing the organization’s mission: to transform education systems through data and collaboration so all students succeed.

These priorities reflect our commitment to meaningfully build racial equity and codify the responsibility of the Texas public education system to put students’ first.

They serve as a guide to help E3 meet our region’s priority goals:

  • All children enter kindergarten school ready
  • Central Texas eliminates achievement gaps while improving overall student performance
  • Students graduate college- and career-ready and prepared for a lifetime of learning
  • Central Texas, as a community, prepares children to succeed

In 2021, we are prioritizing legislation that will support the progression of racial equity and our responsibility to provide real support for students, including:

Impact of College Credit Courses on Postsecondary Readiness

dual credit and AP courses double chances for college success. 18.4% of economically disadvantaged students participate in dual credit courses

College credit courses are a promising strategy for increasing the likelihood of students accessing, persisting through, and completing a postsecondary degree.

Schools with high populations of students of color are much less likely to offer advanced courses such as calculus. Additionally, across all schools, students of color are underrepresented in Advanced Placement (AP), dual credit courses, and gifted and talented programs—the kinds of settings in which higher order skills are most purposefully developed.

Research has also found that schools serving African American, Latinx, and Native American students are “bottom heavy,” meaning they offer fewer academic courses or high-end career technical options and more remedial and vocational courses and training for low-status occupations. (Learning Policy Institute)

Access and cost of these kinds of courses varies across the state of Texas. Courses may be offered free to students or at discount rates, sometimes as low as $75 per class or as much as $400.

Research has highlighted that students who take just one dual credit course in high school double their chances for college success.

—Jobs for the Future

  • Consider the variations of course cost across the state of Texas and how that can limit students from engaging in advanced coursework that will prepare them for postsecondary education.

Clearly Communicate High-Value Career Pathways

More education means more money. +24,000 to 42000. Adults with a bachelor's or graduate degree make MORE than adults who are high school graduates

To accelerate a student’s preparation and progression in and through postsecondary education, we need to identify the credentials that are high value, while considering the extent to which each credential shapes employer decisions and provides a living wage to learners.

Educators, legislators, and the community can play an important role in engaging the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and Texas Workforce Commission to synthesize and disseminate actionable and consistent information to students and families.

In particular, these groups can circulate details about the value, benefits, costs, risks, and opportunities associated with academic and professional credentials and the larger role they play on a student’s postsecondary readiness.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, only 32% of Black and 36% of Hispanic Texans were able to find living-wage employment. By providing a strong educational foundation that prepares students for college and career, we can grow our economy and increase racial equity.

Aligning endorsements and pathways, so that students are taking courses that are applicable and transferable, is critical to students’ postsecondary success.

Every high school graduate who goes on to complete a postsecondary credential increases their lifetime earnings by up to $1 million. This means Texas can grow its economy by $200 billion each year when we ensure each student graduates ready for college and career.

  • Secondary, postsecondary, and workforce development systems should clearly communicate how each credential fits into a pathway and leads to improved outcomes for students and state economies.
  • Address existing gaps in skills, identify new or emerging occupations, and provide clear signals about the value of credentials.
  • Strengthen data quality by regularly evaluating and providing transparent reporting of student outcomes associated with postsecondary attainment.
  • Expand access and equity to high-value career pathway and postsecondary offerings.

School College and Career Advising

Within schools, counselors are the single most important professional with direct influence on improving students’ college-going rates (McDonough, 2006).

Yet many schools simply lack the number of counselors needed to help every student navigate postsecondary plans. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this issue.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) recommend a student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1.

In the 2018-19 academic year, the national average ratio was 430:1, nearly double the recommended ratio.

Compounding the problem is the fact that most counselors have a limited amount of college knowledge.

A NACAC report found that students who meet one-on-one with a school counselor are 6.8 times more likely to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), 3.2 times more likely to attend college, and 2 times more likely to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program.

  • Reduce student-to-counselor ratio to 250:1, based on NACAC’s recommendations.

Sustain House Bill 3

3.2 months of instructional loss due to COVID-19, 44% of students in Texas were still attending school remotely as of January 29, 2021

To fully recover from the COVID-19 crisis, Texas must maintain the competitive advantage of a providing an excellent public education system.

The 86th Legislature’s House Bill 3 was a groundbreaking, multibillion-dollar, school finance package that drove substantial funding toward equitable strategies that directly benefit students.

E3 Alliance is focused on ensuring there is money committed to continuing the work of HB3 beyond 2021.

HB3’s focus on closing learning gaps that existed pre-COVID is more important than ever, as pandemic-related learning loss has further widened the outcomes between students experiencing poverty and their non-low-income peers.

  • Maintain the efficacy of HB3.

Connectivity for All Students

America’s digital divide is not only a matter of geography. 

Among the quarter of Americans without broadbanda connection fast enough to stream videoare many who simply cannot afford the monthly bill for service. 

Less than half of households with incomes under $20,000 are connected. 

The collective deficit in opportunity, education, and prospects–everything implied in “being connected”– further separates us into haves and have-nots. (Time, 2017) 

To prepare students for the jobs of the future, we must engage them in a way that strengthens their expectation to learn, collaborate, and apply. Therefore, we need to improve access for all students, particularly during this time of remote learning.

According to the Texas Tribune, one Texas household in three are without a connection to the communications network that makes it possible to participate in online education, an absolutely necessary service for students during the pandemic when the state’s public schools were shuttered. Texas is 38th among the 50 states in broadband adoption.

  • Improve internet infrastructure development in communities that still lack access.
  • Increase affordability.

Data Transparency

Strong data systems remove unnecessary hurdlers. 37.1% decrease in community college enrollment during fall 2020 for low-income households

In light of the pandemic, we know that student’s ability to re-enter and/or transition into higher education will be an ongoing challenge. The goal of making data collection and information more available and streamlined will improve and assist students and institutions in college and career advising, admissions, and college credit transferability. 

The transition from high school to postsecondary has numerous unnecessary hurdles, as student advisors lack access to timely information to support individual students. 

One of these challenges is the assigning of new identification numbers when students transition from high school into multiple postsecondary institutions. Administrators spend hours manually matching student information across all systems. Allowing students to retain their identification numbers eliminates this inefficiency and allows administrators to spend their time in more critically needed areas   

  • Extend the Texas Education Agency student ID into The Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission to minimize inefficiencies across systems.

Get in Touch

Events

COVID-19 & Learning Loss: What does this means for our youngest learners?

Student enrollment, engagement, and learning loss have been topics of major concern in our state since the pandemic, but did you know pre-K and kindergarten are the grades most negatively affected? In this webinar, early childhood and policy experts:

  • Highlighted the remarkable link between attending full-day pre-K and long-term reading and math achievements
  • Showcased two school districts and their journey using data to positively impact student outcomes for their youngest learners
  • Unpacked what we can do legislatively in the state of Texas to accelerate student learning

Download the Slide Deck