Perry signs landmark legislation reducing standardized test requirements

By the Governor's Office —

Bending to popular outrage over high-stakes standardized testing,
Gov. Rick Perry signed school reform legislation last Monday that
revamps high school graduation requirements and cuts the number of
mandatory end-of-course exams from 15 to 5.

Perry had not
revealed his decision until he signed it, leaving activists concerned
about which way he would go with the legislation, But in the end, Perry
(R) chose not to ignore a revolt against excessive amounts of
high-stakes standardized testing that began more than a year and a half
ago in Texas and that has spread to other states.

The new reform
initiative Perry signed into law cuts from 15 to 5 the number of
end-of-course exams students must take to graduate from high school, and
eliminates the requirement that test scores represent 15 percent of a
student’s grade for the course. The new law, among other things, gives
students more curriculum flexibility, an apparent nod to teenagers not
headed to college.

The Texas testing revolt first got traction
when, in January 2012, the state education commissioner at the time,
Robert Scott, said the mentality that standardized testing is the
“end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should
be. He also called “the assessment and accountability regime” not only
“a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex.” School boards
across the state then began passing resolutions demanding that the
testing regime be reconsidered, and Texas lawmakers began to publicly
call for a reduction in testing.

Here is the summary of the changes Perry signed into law, from the Texas Association of School Boards:

Reduce end-of-course exams from 15 to 5: Algebra I, U.S. history,
biology, English I and English II (reading and writing would be combined
into one exam for both English I and II).
* Replace the current
minimum, recommended and distinguished graduation plans with a
foundation graduation plan consisting of four English credits; three
science, social studies and math credits; two foreign language/computer
programming credits; one fine arts credit; one physical education
credit; and five elective credits (22 credits).
* Eliminate the requirement that end-of-course exams must count toward 15 percent of a student’s final course grade.
Create a distinguished achievement and endorsement graduation plans,
including endorsements in STEM, business & industry, public
services, multi-disciplinary studies, and arts and humanities.
Require four science credits and algebra II for automatic state college
admissions under the top 10 percent rule and state financial aid, and
allow all students to be eligible to apply for Texas colleges.
* Eliminate cumulative score requirements for end-of-course exams.
* Allow districts to administer state-developed Algebra II and English III exams for diagnostic purposes.
Establish an A through F accountability rating system for school
districts beginning with the 2016-17 school year, while campuses will
remain under the existing exemplary, recognized, acceptable and
unacceptable system. (HB 5 makes no provision for the delay of
accountability ratings for upcoming school years.)
* Grant the commissioner authority to join a CTE consortium of states.
Prohibit schools from pulling students out of class for more than 10
percent of class time for test preparation or remediation without
parental consent.
* Prohibit a school from giving any student credit
or a final grade for a course if the student was not in attendance for
90 percent of the days a class was offered.
* Require all districts to offer Algebra II.
Allow a district to offer an apprenticeship or training CTE course that
leads to an industry-recognized certificate or credential.
* Not
include language regarding career exploration courses, which address the
foundation school program and courses required for automatic admission
to state schools, for students in grades 7 and 8.
* Require the SBOE
to adopt at least six advanced CTE courses, including courses in
personal financial literacy and statistics, that satisfy the fourth
credit in math.
* Require school districts to partner with at least
one institution of higher education to offer college prep courses in
English and math.
* Require TEA to provide to districts information
on the advantages of the distinguished and endorsement graduation plans,
to include automatic college admission and state grants.
* Require
all students entering grade 9 to select an endorsement, allow students
to change endorsements at any time, and allow students to opt into the
foundation plan with parental consent after grade 10.
* Allow a student to satisfy a fine arts credit by participating in a community-based program not provided by the school.
Allow students to substitute a course for the second foreign language
course if it is clear the student will not be able to complete a second
foreign language credit after completing the first.
* Prohibits
schools from administering more than two benchmark tests per student per
subject, not to include college readiness exams such as the SAT or ACT.
* Require Texas Education Agency to minimize the effect test administration has on a campus and student instruction.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here