The Texas Legislature passed several bills this year focusing on public education. But one garnered much of the attention: House Bill 5 reduced the number of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests a student must pass to graduate high school. Instead of passing 15 different subject areas to graduate, now it’s just five.
Advocates say that’s great, because it cuts down on what they call overtesting. But it also cuts down on educators’ ability to track a student’s progress – and some say, lowers standards, academic rigor and expectations.
“So by lowering the standards, or by lowering how much it takes for someone to get out of high school, essentially what you’re doing is making them less prepared when they get to college," Texas State University college and career readiness advisor Michelle Hamilton says.
Not everyone considers fewer tests a lowering of standards. But there are some new pilot projects around the state to meet future remediation needs.
Dominic Chavez is a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He gives one example – of a student who scores low on a college math placement test.
“Rather than throwing them into a semester-long course in remedial math, where maybe they only have a problem with one concept – letting that student actually enroll in a college-bearing course in math, but giving them a tutor. Or making them go to a math lab where they can fix the one area that they’re not proficient in," Chavez says.
So everyone’s getting ready for something. But it’s likely to take a couple of years to gauge the effects of new legislation.