The Texas House of Representatives this week passed House Bill 5, meaning students would have 10 fewer standardized tests to worry about if it passes the Senate.
The legislation, authored by Public Education Committee Chairman Jimmie Done Aycock, R-Killeen, reduces standardized tests, which lawmakers say play too large a role in students’ education.
“This bill gives all Texas students the opportunities they need to succeed in life by offering multiple rigorous pathways in high school,” Aycock said in a press release. “Our goal is to prepare all students for success, not just those going to four-year colleges.”
With broad bipartisan support, lawmakers also approved major changes to high school curriculum, which will allow students to graduate without taking Algebra II or other advanced math and science classes. It is designed to give students more flexibility by taking classes they’re interested in, such as those leaning toward vocational training.
“I just don’t believe everybody needs Algebra II,” Aycock said. “I know there are people in this room who disagree with that, but I don’t believe it should be the determining factor in a student’s future.”
However, students who choose to take higher-level math and science classes can graduate with a “distinguished” diploma, making them eligible for automatic acceptance into Texas universities, as the top 10 percent of graduates are now.
Under HB 5, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness End-of-Course tests will be cut from 15 to five.
“We are pleased that HB 5 passed the House with broad bipartisan support because it provides for much needed changes in graduation requirements, the accountability system, and state assessments,” Cleburne ISD Superintendent Tim Miller said. “It maintains high standards for graduation requirements while allowing students the opportunity to earn endorsements in science, technology, engineering and math, business and industry, public services, arts and humanities and multidisciplinary studies.”
State Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, said one-size-fits-all high schools aren’t producing nearly enough skilled workers to fill the gap in an aging workforce.
“This bill provides flexibility for students to develop individual talents and pursue jobs that match those talents,” he said.
Similar to HB 5, Senate Bill 3, authored by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, aims to get rid of the requirement that all high schoolers take four years each of English, math, social studies and science. Instead, students would be able to choose their own type of diploma. The Texas Senate Education Committee unanimously voted to move forward with the bill last week. Also authored by Patrick, SB 1724 aligns with SB 3 in that students would take whatever end-of-course tests needed for their specific study plan.
“We encourage parents, educators and other members of the Cleburne community to contact our state elected officials to voice your support for these three bills that will maintain high standards, reduce the emphasis on standardized testing and provide more options for high school students,” Miller said.
For more information, including the bills’ text, visit www.legis.state.tx.us.