A Matter of Course: Student Attendance Under New Graduation Requirements of the Texas Foundation High School Program
In 2013, the state of Texas passed House Bill 5 (HB 5) which established high school course pathways tailored to student interests by labor market area via the Foundation High School Program (FHSP). The pathway options for students include STEM, Arts and Humanities, Business and Industry, Public Service, and Multidisciplinary. While the intent of the new requirements was to improve college and career readiness, the personalization of learning paths tailored to student interests poses the possibility of also increasing engagement resulting in improved attendance. This study uses statewide longitudinal data as well as data from a small, urban Texas school district to examine student attendance pre and post the FHSP. Findings show that regardless of whether a student is in the top 99% of attenders or the bottom 10%, once they start on the STEM endorsement pathway, they experience higher levels of attendance than those in other pathways. Analyses from the Texas school district suggests that positive attendance was driven via STEM-CTE courses, which had the lowest attendance rates prior to the FHSP to the highest attendance rates following the FHSP. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.