Primary and Secondary Education

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.

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. 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. 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.

The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) 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 Academic Skills or TAAS, in 2003.