Education in Texas

Texas has six public university systems and four independent public universities. The state has three nationally recognized top-tier public research universities: The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston.

The state also has many private universities. Rice University—one of the country’s leading teaching and research universities—ranked the 17th-best university overall in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, Southwestern University—the oldest university in the state—was chartered by the Republic of Texas.

Texas has over 1,000 public school districts—all but one of the school districts in Texas are independent, separate from any form of municipal government (the one exception is Stafford Municipal School District). 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.

Texas also has numerous private schools of all types. 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 obtain accreditation and perform achievement tests to show parents the school's interest in educational performance.

The state has some of the fewest restrictions on homeschooling. Neither TEA nor the local school district has authority to regulate home school activities. There is 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 authority to regulate the practice.

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