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Texas Success Initiative (TSI)

The Texas Success Initiative (TSI) was instituted by the Texas Legislature to ensure that students enrolled in public colleges and universities possess the academic skills needed to perform effectively in college level course work. Entering college students are required to demonstrate their college readiness by meeting established minimum standards on TSI Assessments in math, reading and writing or by demonstrating an exemption for each area. Those students who do not meet these standards are required to enroll in appropriate developmental courses designed to improve their academic skills and prepare them for college level courses.

This Student Informational Brochure (September 2014) provided by the state gives additional information.

The process of ensuring that you are compliant with the Texas Success Initiative requirements happens in up to three phases: Exemption, Assessment, and Remediation. 

Phase 1: TSI Exemptions and Waivers

Students who have demonstrated their college readiness according to a list of approved exemptions will not be required to take the TSI Assessment. The documents that you submitted at the time of application to the University of Houston are automatically evaluated to determine whether there any possible exemptions, including national test scores and courses listed on transcripts. If there is information to exempt one or more TSI areas, the exemptions are automatically recorded in your student account; if you are complete in all three areas, your TSI requirement is met.

If you are incomplete in any of the three areas, a TSI hold will be placed on your account, which will prevent all enrollment, and a To-do List for TSI Compliancy will be added to your student account for each TSI area not complete. At this point, you’ll be sent an email to explain the TSI requirements and what exemptions are allowed.

If you have documentation you believe qualifies you for a TSI exemption (e.g, TSI test scores taken at another institution or unofficial transcripts) you may submit it through your myUH To-do List or by email at tsi@uh.edu. Sometimes documentation you have already submitted includes information that may clear you for TSI (e.g, TSI status or test scores listed on transcripts or transcripts that have been submitted but not yet processed). The TSI staff will perform a manual of review your documentation, record TSI areas as complete, and release the hold if all three areas are complete.

If documentation does not meet exemption requirements, you will be advised to take the appropriate TSI Assessments. Please know that while unofficial documentation may be used for the purpose of temporarily releasing the TSI hold, unofficial documents will allow for a one-semester waiver only—as opposed to an exemption—and official documentation must be submitted to UH Admissions to avoid having the enrollment hold reapplied.

The state allowed TSI exemptions are as follows:

  • ACT exemption: composite score of 23 with a minimum of 19 on the English test shall be exempt for both the reading and writing sections of the TSI Assessment, and/or 19 on the mathematics test shall be exempt for the mathematics section of the TSI Assessment. Scores may not be more than 5 years old at the time exemption.
  • SAT exemption:
    • for exams administered prior to March 5, 2016: a combined critical reading (formerly “verbal”) and mathematics score of 1070 with a minimum of 500 on the critical reading test shall be exempt for both reading and writing sections of the TSI Assessment, and/or 500 on the mathematics test shall be exempt for the mathematics section of the TSI Assessment. Scores may not be more than 5 years old at the time of exemption.
    • for exams administered March 5, 2016 and later: 480 on the Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and 530 on Math
    • Note: Scores for TSI purposes must come from either the old SAT (administered prior to March 5, 2016) or the revised SAT (administered March 5, 2016 and later), but not a combination of old SAT scores and revised SAT scores. The elimination of the combined score on the revised SAT prohibits such mixing of scores. Note that results from both SAT tests remain valid five (5) years from date of testing.
  • TAKS exemption: a minimum scale score of 2200 on the math section and/or a minimum scale score of 2200 on the English Language Arts section with a writing subsection score of at least 3 on the Eleventh grade exit-level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).
  • STAAR exemption: STAAR end-of-course (EOC) exam scores, including a minimum score on English III Reading of 2000, English III Writing of 2000, and Algebra II of 4000, shall be exempt from the TSI Assessments in those respective areas of reading, writing, and math. (Note: It is our understanding from the State that although HB5 disallowed administration of the English III exams for a time period, they were administered to some students prior to the effective date for HB5. In addition, starting with AY 2015-2016, school districts may opt in to administering these exams again. Therefore, these STARR EOC exemptions remain in rule and in effect (TAC, Rule 4.54(b).)
  • Degree exemption: students who have graduated with an associate (Associate of Arts or Associate of Science) or baccalaureate degree from an institution of higher education.
  • Course work exemption: students who have satisfactorily completed college level coursework in a related field with a greade of C or better, either at another institution or by using AP scores, IB scores, or dual credit grades, as determined by the University of Houston. See the UH TSI Course Exemption list for courses that will be satisfy an exemption.
  • Prior military service exemption: students who on or after August 1, 1990, were honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or service as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces.

The state allowed TSI waivers applicable to UH are as follows:

  • Military Service waiver: Students serving on active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and have been serving for at least 3 years preceding enrollment are eligible for a one-semester waiver of the TSI requirements. Note that this is not a complete exemption but rather a temporary waiver; students in this category must demonstrate eligibility each semester in order to have the hold released.
  • Non-degree seeking exemption: students who wish to take courses for personal enrichment but are not pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Phase 2: TSI Assessment

If you are not exempt from the TSI requirements, you will be required to take the appropriate section (reading, writing, and mathematics) of the TSI Assessment prior to enrolling in classes. Note that as of Fall 2013, the state has prescribed that only the TSI Assessment may be used (THEA, ASSET, COMPASS, and ACCUPLACER are no longer allowable, unless they have been used at a previous institution to satisfy the requirement.).

The minimum passing score for each TSI Assessment section is set by the state:

  • Reading: a score ranging from 351 to 390;
  • Writing: a placement score of at least 340, and an essay score of at least a 4; or a placement score of less than 340, and an ABE Diagnostic level of at least 4, and an essay score of at least 5;
  • Mathematics: a score ranging from 350 to 390.

See the UH Testing Services website for information on how to take the TSI Assessment, including:

  • The required online TSI Pre-Assessment;
  • Fees;
  • Test content;
  • Options for taking the TSI Assessment remotely.

Students with disabilities who need testing assistance should contact the Center for Students with DisABILITIES at 713-743-5400 or 713-749-1527 (TDD).

Phase 3: Remediation Advising for an Individual Success Plan

If you do not pass one or more TSI Assessment, your enrollment hold will remain on your student account, meaning you will be ineligible to enroll in courses at the University of Houston. By UH policy, students who are not TSI complete will have a maximum of two consecutive long semesters (i.e., within the first academic year) to become TSI complete.

In order to lift your hold and enroll in classes, you will meet with your college advisor for Remediation Advising to determine an individual plan for your academic success. This plan may include developmental education and/or non-developmental coursework or other supports necessary to ensure readiness to perform college-level academic coursework. Once your TSI Remediation Advising is completed and documented, your college will waive your TSI requirement for one semester and lift the TSI hold temporarily so that you can enroll in your first semester classes.

Note that if you are meeting the TSI requirement by taking a developmental course, you will still be enrolled in that course at the time that registration for the following semester begins, and so you will not yet have satisfied the requirement; please see your college advisor to request to have your hold released in order to enroll in courses for the second semester.  Once you pass the developmental course, your TSI requirement should be completed. If you are not able to demonstrate that you are TSI complete by the end of the first semester, the TSI hold will be replaced on your student account, meaning you will need to see your advisor to make a plan for meeting the TSI requirement in your second semester at UH.

Those students who have completed their second semester at UH and are still not TSI complete, will have the TSI hold replaced on their student account. They must take the TSI Assessment in the appropriate area in order to comply with the requirement so that the hold can be lifted and they can enroll in classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have questions about TSI. Who can I ask?

A: It depends on your question. If you have general questions about the TSI process or allowed exemptions, our TSI staff is happy to help with your questions--please email us at TSI@uh.edu.  If you have questions about the TSI assessment, please contact UH Testing Services. If you have questions about how to proceed with your degree plan if you do not pass the TSI Assessment, please contact your college advisor. And remember, for all professional messaging, it's always a good idea to include your full name and UH student ID in every email to make sure we can locate your records.

Q: I turned in my transcripts that show a TSI exemption. Why do I still have a hold?

A: Often, transcripts you have submitted to the university contain information that will exempt you; however the automatic review processes cannot run until the Admissions office has fully processed your documents. You are welcome to submit a copy of your documentation to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I scored higher on the SAT the second time I took it. Can those scores exempt me?

A: If you have scores or transcripts that will complete a TSI area, submit it to the UH Admissions office. If you’d like to send an unofficial copy to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I scored a 500 on the SAT math and critical reading.  Why do I still have a hold?

A: To be eligible for the SAT exemption your combined math and critical reading score must first be a 1070, per state rules.  If the combined score is less than a 1070 the individual math or critical reading score cannot be evaluated for any TSI component.  You are welcome to submit a copy of your documentation to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial review.

Q: I was TSI complete at my last institution.  Why do I still have a hold?

A: The first step will be to submit your official transcript to the university that contains the information that will exempt you.  If you’d like, you may also send an unofficial copy to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: If I bring documentation the day of my orientation to exempt me from TSI, will my hold be removed immediately?

A: We encourage you to submit unofficial documentation to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial review well in advance of your orientation; you may bring documentation to orientation, however it may take 48-72 business hours to update your student account, meaning you may well not be able to enroll in courses at orientation.

Q: How many times can I re-take the TSI Assessment?

A:You may take the TSI Assessment as many times as you like. You are encouraged to take time in between to prepare for the re-take so that you can be successful. See the TSI information on the UH Testing Services website for more information on the TSI Assessment.

Q: I am currently enrolled in courses at another institution that will allow me to exempt from TSI.  Why do I have a hold?

A: Once your courses are complete and your grade awarded, submit your official transcript to the UH Admissions office. If you’d like, you may also send an unofficial copy to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I have AP/IB test scores that count towards course credit.  Why do I have a TSI hold?

A: AP/IB scores can be used for a TSI exemption. Depending on the timing, your scores may not have been awarded credit yet. Check your myUH student account under Transfer Credit to see whether credit has been awarded. See the Testing Services website for more information.  

Q: I completed dual credit courses.  Why do I have a hold?

A: If you have college level courses that will complete a TSI area, submit your official college transcript to the UH Admissions office. Your high school transcript cannot be used to demonstrate completion of college-level courses.

Q:  I have taken COMPASS/ACCUPLACER/THEA/ASSET.  Can I use this score to exempt from TSI?

A: As of Fall 2013, the state has prescribed that only the TSI Assessment may be used (THEA, ASSET, COMPASS, and ACCUPLACER are no longer allowable, unless they have been used at a previous institution to satisfy the requirement.).  If you’d like, you may send an unofficial copy of your transcript to TSI@uh.edu for an unofficial TSI review.

Q: I am currently serving on active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and have been serving for at least 3 years, and I did not have a hold at my previous institution.  Why do I have a hold?

A: As an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces you are eligible for a waiver of the TSI requirements each semester you attend. Please submit a copy of your current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) to TSI@uh.edu for a TSI review.

Q: I am a former member of the U.S. armed forces or Texas National Guard.  To be exempt what documentation should I submit?

A: As an honorably discharged, retired, or released from active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces, the Texas National Guard, or service as a member of a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces on or after August 1, 1990 you may submit a copy of your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214 Form) to TSI@uh.edu.

Q: What is the difference between a TSI waiver and a TSI exemption?

A: A waiver is a one-semester reprieve from the TSI requirements for a limited selection of cases (e.g., active military, students not seeking a degree) so that students can enroll in courses. Waivers must be renewed every semester to lift the TSI hold. TSI exemptions are a permanent completion of a particular TSI area based on the set of allowed criteria (e.g, scores or coursework), and once all three sections are complete, the student is considered TSI complete.

Q: I have completed college level courses at an international institution.  Why do I have a hold?

A: An official evaluation of courses for students with international transfer credit will be done during your first enrolled semester. Those whose initial registration occurs during the summer session will receive an evaluation of foreign course work by the registration period for the following spring semester.  You must complete the required TSI assessments to avoid a delay of your enrollment.