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Texas Bill Changes Graduation Requirements
posted by: Cindy Omlin | April 16, 2013, 05:45 PM   

The Texas House of Representatives recently approved HB5, which would restructure the state's high school graduation requirements, reducing the number of end-of-course exams from fifteen to five and eliminating the requirement that these tests comprise 15% of students' overall grade.

Lawmakers created HB5 to provide more flexibility in education, by enabling students to either pursue a traditional path into college or move directly into the workforce. Parents, teachers, and students previously criticized the weight end-of-course exams place on testing, while minimizing course work.

"The benefits of House Bill 5 are tremendous," said Julie Shields, assistant director of governmental relations for the Texas Association of School Boards. "Parents and students and the general community want to see something change in terms of the testing system. House Bill 5 will bring about that change."

HB5 establishes different tracks for those planning on attending colleges or universities and for those going straight into the workforce. For example, all high school graduates would be eligible to apply for admission to Texas universities, according to a House Research Organization analysis, but only students completing the distinguished level would be eligible for the so-called "10 percent rule" that allows students to automatically gain college admission by finishing in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. Students choosing the qualified option would be required to earn four credits of science and four credits of math, including algebra II. Students could also earn endorsements on their diplomas in any of five areas: STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), business and industry, public services, arts and humanities and multidisciplinary studies. Many believe this delineation will promote graduation by providing different avenues to post-secondary schooling.

The bill's supporters touted its ability to prepare non-college bound students for the workforce. "Right now, there are some shortages in industry jobs and this would help graduate more students who are ready to go into those skills," said Matt Geske,governmental affairs director for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, adding that HB5 "provides a flexible pathway for students."

The bill would also emphasize school accountability with a new three-category rating system assessing schools on academic performance, financial performance and community and student engagement.

"I believe this is good policy," said House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen. "I think most people in Texas think it's good policy. This is a serious matter for all our children."

What do you think of this bill?
Comment below.


Originally posted by Ruthie at AAE.

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