The 1866 Texas Constitution established a Board of Education. Its members did not represent districts, and its composition varied over time. The legislature created the first State Board of Education to be elected from districts in 1949. One member was elected from each of the state's 21 congressional districts adopted by the legislature in 1933, with board of education members serving staggered six-year terms. This election method using the 1933 congressional districts was used for an initial special election in 1949 and each subsequent election until 1970.
In 1969, a federal district court in Freeman v. Dies held that the election procedure for electing the board violated the one-person, one-vote requirement because the 1933 congressional districts used to elect board members were of unequal population; districts that contained only one-third of the state's population elected a majority of the board. In 1971, the 62nd Legislature, 1st Called Session, made the State Board of Education districts coterminous with the congressional districts "established by law."
Following the 1970 and 1980 decennial congressional apportionments, the number of districts and the size of the board of education increased to 24 for the 1972–1980 elections and 27 for the 1982 election. In 1984, the 68th Legislature, 2nd Called Session, abolished the 27-member elected board and reestablished the board as a 15-member body, with a transitional appointed board that served until new board members were elected in 1988.