Houston Matters

State Bill to Reduce Testing Passes Both Chambers

Graduation is on the minds of legislators in Austin these days. Both houses of the Texas legislature have passed a bill to change standardized testing and other graduation requirements for high school students in Texas. The proposed legislation would reduce from 15 to 5 the number of standardized tests students need to pass in order […]

Graduation is on the minds of legislators in Austin these days. Both houses of the Texas legislature have passed a bill to change standardized testing and other graduation requirements for high school students in Texas. The proposed legislation would reduce from 15 to 5 the number of standardized tests students need to pass in order to graduate.

There has long been criticism of increased testing forcing teachers to "teach to the test" – to basically spend a large percentage of valuable class time preparing students to take those exams, whether it serves as an effective teaching tool or not. So, many educators, administrators, and parents are thrilled with the possibility of fewer tests.

Reduced testing is not all HB 5 would do. It also changes the accountability system for school districts – academic ratings like "exemplary" "academically acceptable" and "recognized" would be replaced with an "A" to "F" grading system. It would also change the academic tracks – what are known as graduation plans – high school students can follow. Students would either be on a "foundation" or "distinguished" track. The "foundation" plan would include what are known as "endorsements" – sort of like a major or specialty – in humanities, or science & technology, or business and industry. The "distinguished" track would be geared towards college prep.

Susan Kellner, Vice President of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, has been advocating for fewer tests. She talks to Houston Matters. Also, KUHF’s education reporter Laura Isensee talks about how this proposed legislation developed, and what parents and students may need to know about the graduation plans included in it.

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