During the spring of 2013, the Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 5. As part of this bill, the number of state assessments that high school students need to pass to graduate from high school was reduced from fifteen to five. Prior to the passage of House Bill 5, students were expected to take separate reading and writing assessments for English I, English II, and English III. Each assessment lasted for four hours. On the reading assessments for each course, students were required to read selections from various genres and answer multiple choice and short answer questions. On the writing assessments for each course, students were required to answer multiple choice questions about revision and editing and to write two different kinds of essays by mode (English I – literary [a short story] and expository, English II – expository and persuasive, English III – persuasive and analytic).
The new assessment is required only for English I and English II and is a combined reading and writing test. It lasts for five hours. Both assessments require students to read in various genres and answer multiple choice and short answer questions about those reading selections as well as answer multiple choice questions about revising and editing and to write one kind of essay (English I – expository, English II – persuasive).
For both the previous assessments and for the current assessments, field test items are included in the test. Therefore, students answer some multiple choice questions that are not included in their scores. They also answer three short answer questions, but only two of these are scored and write two essays with only one being scored.