Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Texas House of Representives votes to reduce high-stakes testing - House Bill 5

A good thing happened for Texas education yesterday.

The Texas House of Representatives voted 145-2 to reduce the number of high-stakes tests required for Texas high school graduation from 15 tests to 5 tests.  

The five exams that students would have to pass before graduation are English II reading and writing, algebra I, biology and U.S. history

House committee Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock asked members of the House four questions:
  • Are we over-testing students?
  • Is it ok for a child to find a path outside of a four-year degree?
  • Does every student in every situation need Algebra II?
  • Do you think our accountability system should be based on more than testing?   
The House committee Chair stated: "We are, in fact, over-testing." He said 15 end-of-course tests are just too many. 

This is a positive move in the right direction away from excessive high-stakes testing. High-stakes tests remain, but the testing is reduced.

It is also a good thing that House Bill 5 provides alternative paths to graduation and allows students and parents to select the path to high school graduation. 

Students will be able to select one of five paths — or “endorsements” — to graduation. Those paths include:
  • arts and humanities
  • business and industry
  • multi-discipline studies
  • public services
  • science and math
House Bill 5 also broadens school accountability ratings to include academic performance (test results), financial performance and community engagement - not just tests alone.

Community engagement is especially good to add to the accountability system since our public schools are there to serve their local neighborhoods and communities. 

Yesterday was a good day for public education in Texas. Not all was done but the legislature moved in the right direction.