Education in Texas

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Texas has over 1,000 public school districtsall but one of the school districts in Texas are independent, separate from any form of municipal government. School districts may (and often do) cross city and county boundaries. Independent school districts have the power to tax their residents and to assert eminent domain over privately owned property. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) oversees these districts, providing supplemental funding, but its jurisdiction is limited mostly to intervening in poorly performing districts.

36 separate and distinct public universities exist in Texas, of which 32 belong to one of the six state university systems. The Carnegie Foundation classifies eight of Texas's universities as research universities with very high research activity (Tier One status): Rice University, The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas at Arlington, University of Houston, University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Dallas, and Texas Tech University.[1][2][3][4]

Primary and secondary education

The main offices of the Texas Education Agency are located in the William B. Travis State Office Building in Austin
The entrance to the Lamar High School auditorium in Houston is decorated with a map of the state of Texas.

Texas has over 1,000 school districts—ranging in size from the gigantic Houston Independent School District to the 13-student Divide Independent School District in rural south Texas. All but one of the school districts in Texas are separate from any form of municipal government, hence they are called "independent school districts", or "ISD" for short. School districts may (and often do) cross city and county boundaries. School districts have the power to tax their residents and to use eminent domain. The sole exception to this rule is Stafford Municipal School District, which serves all of the city of Stafford.[5]

Texas Education Agency (TEA) has oversight of the public school systems as well as the charter schools. Because of the independent nature of the school districts the TEA's actual jurisdiction is limited. The TEA is divided into twenty Educational Service Center "regions" that serve the local school districts. The Robin Hood plan is a controversial tax redistribution system that provides court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state. Property tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts is and distributed those in property-poor districts, in an effort to equalize the financing of all districts throughout Texas.

Especially in the metropolitan areas, Texas also has numerous private schools of all types (non-sectarian, Catholic, and Protestant). The TEA has no authority over private school operations; private schools may or may not be accredited, and achievement tests are not required for private school graduating seniors. Many private schools will obtain accreditation and perform achievement tests as a means of encouraging future parents that the school is genuinely interested in educational performance.

It is generally considered to be among the least restrictive states in which to home school. Neither TEA nor the local school district has authority to regulate home school activities; state law only requires that the curriculum 1) must teach "reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship" (the latter interpreted to mean a course in civics) and 2) must be taught in a bona fide manner.[6] There are no minimum number of days in a year, or hours in a day, that must be met, and achievement tests are not required for home school graduating seniors. The validity of home schooling was challenged in Texas, but a landmark case, Leeper v. Arlington ISD, ruled that home schooling was legal and that the state had little or no authority to regulate the practice.

As of 2010 49% of children enrolled in public Pre-K through 12 primary and secondary schools in Texas are classified as Hispanic.[7] In the decade from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2009-2010 school year, Hispanics made up 91% of the growth in the state's public K-12 schools. The overall student body increased by 856,061 students, with 775,075 of those students being Hispanic.[8]

Standardized tests

The (STAAR) is a standardized test used in Texas primary and secondary schools to assess students' attainment of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards. It is developed and scored by Pearson Educational Measurement with close supervision by the Texas Education Agency. Though created before the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, it complies with the law. It replaced the previous test, called the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or TAKS, in 2003.

TAKS, as of spring 2013 is currently being replaced with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. Unlike TAKS, at the secondary level, STAAR tests are end of course exams.

Public colleges and universities

Texas's controversial alternative affirmative action plan, Texas House Bill 588, guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class automatic admission to state-funded universities. The bill encourages demographic diversity while avoiding problems stemming from the Hopwood v. Texas (1996) case.

Thirty-five (35) separate and distinct public universities exist in Texas, of which 31 belong to one of the six state university systems.[9][10] Discovery of minerals on Permanent University Fund land, particularly oil, has helped fund the rapid growth of the state's two largest university systems: The University of Texas System and the Texas A&M System. The four other university systems: the University of Houston System, the University of North Texas System, the Texas State System, and the Texas Tech System are not funded by the Permanent University Fund.

The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are flagship universities of the state of Texas. Both were established by the Texas Constitution and hold stakes in the Permanent University Fund. The state has been putting effort to expand the number of flagship universities by elevating some of its seven institutions designated as "emerging research universities." The two that are expected to emerge first are the University of Houston and Texas Tech University, likely in that order according to discussions on the House floor of the 82nd Texas Legislature.[11]

The state is home to various private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to nationally recognized research universities. Rice University in Houston is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and is ranked the nation's 17th-best overall university by U.S. News & World Report.[12] Trinity University, a private, primarily undergraduate liberal arts university in San Antonio, has ranked first among universities granting primarily bachelor's and select master's degrees in the Western United States for 20 consecutive years by U.S. News.[13] The former republic chartered the private universities Baylor University, University of Mary Hardin–Baylor, and Southwestern University.[14][15]

Universities in Texas currently host three presidential libraries: the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum at The University of Texas at Austin, the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University, and the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University.

University of Houston System

The University of Houston System has four separate and distinct institutions; each institution is a stand-alone university and confers its own degrees. Its flagship institution is the University of Houston, a research university.[1][2][3] The three other institutions in the System are stand-alone universities; they are not branch campuses of the University of Houston.

The flagship institution of the System, the University of Houston, ranks No. 189 in the National University Rankings of U.S. News & World Report, and No. 106 among top public universities.[16][17]

The University of Houston System's annual impact on the Texas economy equates to that of a major corporation: $1.1 billion in new funds attracted annually to Texas, $3.13 billion in total economic benefit, and 24,000 local jobs generated.[18][19] This is in addition to the 12,500 new graduates the UH System produces every year who enter the workforce throughout Texas.[19]

Institution Founded Enrollment
(Fall 2012)
(Fall 2012)
(FY 2011)
U.S. News
University of Houston 1927 40,747 667 55.9% $589.8 million[22] $127.5 million[22] Research
(Very High)
National Universities,
No. 189[16]
University of Houston–Clear Lake 1971 8,153 524 N/A $22.6 million[23] $2.2 million[23] Master's (Large) Regional Universities,
Tier 2[24]
University of Houston–Downtown 1974 13,916 20 90.3% $34.7 million[25] $1.5 million[25] Baccalaureate–
Regional Colleges,
Tier 2[26]
University of Houston–Victoria 1971 4,335 20 84.6% $15.2 million[27] $1.2 million[27] Master's (Large) Regional Universities,
Tier 2[28]

University of North Texas System

The University of North Texas System (UNT System) has three schools in the North Texas region, all of which are in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

The flagship institution is the University of North Texas (UNT) located in Denton. UNT is the largest university in the Metroplex and fourth largest in the state. The fields taught at UNT focus on such areas as business management, education, engineering, hospitality, music and science.

The UNT System also oversees the University of North Texas at Dallas, the only public university located in the city limits of Dallas, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, the only college in Texas that specializes in osteopathic medicine.

University of Texas System

The University of Texas System, established by the Texas Constitution in 1883, consists of eight academic universities and six health institutions, with a seventh health institution to be established in the near future. UT System institutions enrolled a total of 182,752 students in fall 2004 making it one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation. In 2004, the University of Texas at Austin, which is the largest institution in the UT System and second largest in the state of Texas, maintained an enrollment of 50,377 students. The University of Texas at Austin was once the largest institution in the United States, but it is now one of the top three largest by population. Seven doctoral programs at UT Austin rank in the top 10 in the nation and 22 degree programs rank in the top 25, according to a comprehensive study of the quality of graduate schools conducted by the United States National Research Council. Four of the seven medical schools of Texas are within the University of Texas System. In 2004, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas was ranked the 12th highest ranking medical school in the United States, with four of Texas's 11 Nobel laureates.[29]

Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System, established by the 1871 Texas legislature, is the largest state university system of higher learning in Texas. Its flagship institution, Texas A&M University located in College Station, opened in 1876,is the state's oldest public institution of higher education,and,at over 62,000 students, has the largest student enrollment in the state of Texas.[30] As opposed to the University of Texas System, which is primarily focused in urban centers, the Texas A&M System generally serves rural areas of the state.

Prairie View A&M University is a historically black university located in Prairie View, Texas (Northwest of Houston) and is a member of the Texas A&M University System. PVAMU offers baccalaureate degrees in 50 academic majors, 37 master’s degrees and four doctoral degree programs through nine colleges and schools. Founded in 1876, Prairie View A&M University is the second oldest state-sponsored institution of higher education in Texas.

Texas State University System

The Texas State University System, created in 1911 to oversee the state's normal schools (teachers' colleges), is the oldest multi-system University System in Texas.[31] The system is unique to Texas because it is the only horizontal State University System; the system does not have a flagship institution and considers every campus to be unique in their own way.[32] Over the years, several member schools have been moved to other university systems. Today, the system encompasses eight institutions; Texas State University, located halfway between Austin and San Antonio in San Marcos, Texas, is the largest university in the system with an enrollment of 30,816 students.[33] Lamar University located in Beaumont, Texas and previously in its own system, joined the TSUS in 1995.[34] It boast an enrollment of 14,384 students as of spring 2010 and is most notable for its highly respected engineering program.[35] Sam Houston State University located in Huntsville, Texas is the 2nd largest university in the TSUS with 18,478 students and is home to one of the world's largest and best Criminal Justice Programs. SHSU also is home to 5 other college departments which excel in their own fields of study.

Texas Tech University System

The Texas Tech University System was established in 1996, though the system's oldest institution, was founded in 1923. The system comprises four separate universities, of which two are academic institutions: Angelo State University and Texas Tech University, and two are health institutions: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso.

Texas Tech University, founded as Texas Technological College in 1923, is the system's flagship institution located in Lubbock. The institution originally comprised only four schools: Agriculture, Engineering, Home Economics, and Liberal Arts. Today, the university includes eleven academic colleges, a graduate school and a school of law. The campus in Lubbock is shared with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

In 1969, a separate university named the Texas Tech University School of Medicine (now Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC)), was founded as a multi-campus institution with Lubbock as the administrative center and with regional campuses at Amarillo, El Paso, and Odessa. The university was expanded to include nursing, pharmacy, and allied health sciences programs in 1979. The university has expanded to include campuses in Abilene, and Dallas.

In 2007, Angelo State University joined the Texas Tech University System leaving the Texas State University System, which it had been a member of since 1975.

On May 18, 2013, the former branch campus of TTUHSC in El Paso was established as the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) a separate university from TTUHSC with schools of medicine and nursing.

Independent universities

Four public universities are unaffiliated with any of the six systems. They are:

Texas State Technical College System

The state also operates the Texas State Technical College System, a group of two-year technical colleges located throughout the state. System headquarters are co-located with the flagship campus in Waco.

Community colleges

Several community colleges operate throughout the state of Texas. Although the state has established territorial jurisdictions for each college, the colleges themselves are governed by local boards of trustees, and are financed mainly through local property taxes.

The taxing area and the jurisdiction are not necessarily the same in all cases. As an example, the jurisdiction of North Central Texas College includes the counties of Cooke, Denton, and Montague, but only Cooke County property is subject to the property tax assessment. On the other hand, the jurisdiction and tax base for Tarrant County College are the same: Tarrant County.

Private colleges and universities

Austin area

Institutions of higher education include Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Concordia University, Huston-Tillotson University, St. Edward's University, the Seminary of the Southwest, the Acton School of Business, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Virginia College's Austin Campus, The Art Institute of Austin, and a branch of Park University.

Central Texas (excluding Austin)

University of Mary-Baylor University, chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, is the oldest university in Texas operating under its original charter. Baylor University purports to be the largest Baptist university in the world, having an enrollment of over 14,000 students. Baylor is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools. The 735-acre (2.97 km2) campus is located just southeast of downtown Waco, roughly bounded by Interstate 35, Speight Avenue, Eighth Street and the Brazos River.

The University of Mary Hardin–Baylor is a Christian university in Belton, Texas.

Southwestern University is a private university in Georgetown, Texas.

Dallas–Fort Worth area

The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex is home to several private universities such as Southern Methodist University (which has the Metroplex's largest law school), University of Dallas, Texas Christian University, Dallas Baptist University, and Paul Quinn College.

Austin College

Main article: Austin College

Austin College is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA and located in Sherman, Texas, an hour north of Dallas. Chartered in November 1849, it is the oldest college in Texas under original charter and name as recognized by the State Historical Survey Committee. The school is named after Texas hero Stephen F. Austin, who along with his sister Emily, deeded 1,500 acres (6 km²) of land to the college. Another important figure in Texas history, Sam Houston, served on the original board of trustees for the school. U.S. News & World Report ranked Austin College among the top 100 colleges in the category of "Best Liberal Arts Colleges" for 2006. Austin College also ranked among the "Best 361 Colleges" in the 2006 Princeton Review, was profiled in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives, and was profiled in the 2005 edition of Kaplan's Unbiased Guide to the 331 Most Interesting Colleges. Austin College is also ninth on the U.S. News' 2006 list for "most students studying abroad." It is a member of the International 50, a group of the top colleges in the nation for international focus.

Houston area

Houston is the location of Rice University, which boasts one of the largest financial endowments of any university in the world. The small undergraduate student body has one of the highest percentages of National Merit Scholarship winners in the United States. Rice University maintains a variety of research facilities and laboratories. Rice is also associated with the Houston Area Research Center, a consortium supported by Rice, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston.

The University of St. Thomas is a liberal arts college in Houston. It was founded by the Basilian Order in 1947 as a Roman Catholic university. Former UST president Archbishop J. Michael Miller currently serves in the Roman Curia as the prefect of Catholic universities throughout the world. The campus is also home to some major historic buildings, such as the Link-Lee Mansion (once the largest house in Texas) and Hughes House (the childhood home of Howard Hughes).

San Antonio area

Private universities in the city are Trinity University, St. Mary's University, University of the Incarnate Word, and Our Lady of the Lake University.

Medical research

Aerial of Texas Medical Center in Houston

Texas is home to several research medical centers. The state has eight medical schools,[36] three dental schools, and two optometry schools.[37] Texas has two Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories: one at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston,[38] and the other at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antoniothe first privately owned BSL-4 lab in the United States.[39]

The Texas Medical Center, in Houston, is the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, with 45 member institutions in the Texas Medical Center.[40] More heart transplants are performed at Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world.[41] San Antonio's South Texas Medical Center facilities rank sixth in clinical medicine research impact in the United States.[42] The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is one of the world’s highly regarded academic institutions devoted to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.[43]

Texas Digital Library

The Texas Digital Library is a consortium of institutions of higher education in the state of Texas.[44] The consortium provides an infrastructure for scholarly activity of its members.[45] Support currently includes an Electronic Theses and Dissertations system and Institutional Repository support.[46]

See also


  1. 1 2 Bonnin, Richard. "Carnegie Foundation Gives University of Houston its Highest Classification for Research Success, Elevating UH to Tier One Status". University of Houston. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  2. 1 2 "UH achieves Tier One status in research". Houston Business Journal. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2011-07-06.
  3. 1 2 "UH takes big step up to Tier One status". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-07-06.
  5. "Comptroller Strayhorn to Review Stafford Municipal School District" (Press release). Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. 2003-09-16. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  6. "Texas Home School Coalition FAQ". Retrieved 2006-04-29.
  7. Scharrer, Gary. "In schools, a peek at Texas' future." Houston Chronicle. May 16, 2010. Retrieved on May 17, 2010.
  8. Scharrer, Gary. "Hispanic children make up 91% of school enrollment growth." San Antonio Express-Tribune. June 2, 2010. Retrieved on November 6, 2011.
  9. Heath, Ben (July 7, 2003). "Bill requires review of university systems" (PDF). Daily Texan. Retrieved October 12, 2007.
  10. "Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Testimony Regarding the Benefits of a Stand Alone Institution" (PDF). Sam Houston State University. June 25, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  11. "Tier-One Prize Money Tentatively Passes House". Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  12. "Rice University, Best Colleges 2009". – US News and World Report. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  13. "Trinity University". Best Colleges 2011 – US News and World Report. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  14. "About Baylor". Baylor University. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  15. "Southwestern History". Southwestern University. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  16. 1 2 "National University Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  17. "Top Public Schools: National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  18. TRESAUGUE, Matthew (2006-05-17). "Study suggests UH degrees are crucial economic factor". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  19. 1 2 "The Economic Impact of Higher Education on Houston: A Case Study of the University of Houston System" (PDF). University of Houston System. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  20. "Online Institutional Resumes". Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  21. Carnegie Foundation University Classification | accessdate = 2011-02-06
  22. 1 2 "University of Houston Progress Card" (PDF). University of Houston System. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  23. 1 2 "University of Houston–Clear Lake Progress Card" (PDF). University of Houston System. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  24. "2013 Best Colleges: University of Houston–Clear Lake". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  25. 1 2 "University of Houston–Downtown Progress Card" (PDF). University of Houston System. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  26. "2015 Best Colleges: University of Houston–Downtown". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  27. 1 2 "University of Houston–Victoria Progress Card" (PDF). University of Houston System. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
  28. "2013 Best Colleges: University of Houston–Victoria". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  29. The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas list of Texas Nobel Laureates
  30. "Texas A&M University Enrollment Profile: Fall 2014" (PDF). Texas A&M University. pp. i. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  31. "Texas State University System". Retrieved November 9, 2009.
  32. "SHSU graduate appointed System Regent". Huntsville Item. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  33. Blaschke, Jayme (September 16, 2009). "Texas State sets new enrollment record of 30,816". University News Service. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  36. "Texas Medical Schools and Hospitals". Texas Medical Association. 2006-08-03. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  38. "University Selects Bioscrypt for Biosafety Level 4 Lab". Bioscrypt. October 14, 2004. Archived from the original on 2006-03-14. Retrieved 2006-04-29.
  39. "BIOSAFETY LEVEL 4 (BSL-4) LABORATORY". Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research. Retrieved 2006-04-29.
  40. Facts and Figures. Texas Medical Center. 2006. Last Retrieved 2007-03-17.
  41. "Background Statistics > People and Politics (most recent) by state". State Master. 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
  42. "Health Science Center ranks sixth in clinical medicine". XL (7 ed.). University of Texas Health Science Center. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  43. "About MD Anderson". The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  44. "Introducing Vireo: an ETD Submittal and Management System for DSpace" (PDF).
  45. "Building the Texas Digital Library".
  46. "University of Houston Library Resources - Texas Digital Library Description".
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