Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick said Tuesday that some high school end-of-course tests may scrapped this spring if the Legislature acts quickly enough on a bill that would sharply reduce the number of exams required for graduation. “If we pass this legislation and it is signed by the governor in time before testing begins in May, there is a possibility the commissioner could say to school districts they are not required to give tests this year that are no longer required,” said Patrick, R-Houston.
“If that is the case. If we could move this through, it is possible that school districts and students could get some relief this year. It doesn’t make sense for students to take tests that in the future won’t count,” he said. Bills in the House and Senate would reduce the number of end-of-course tests required for graduation from the current 15 to five or six. School districts have been pressing for a reduction in the number of exams, worried about the high failure rates that were seen in the first year of testing in the 2011-12 school year. Patrick made his comments during a hearing on his bill before the Senate Education Committee.
Patrick also said lawmakers will have to consider what to do with the thousands of ninth graders who failed one or more of the EOC exams last year. “One of the issues we have to take up is what to do with the large number of students who have failed tests that may not be required moving forward,” he said. Under Patrick’s bill, most students would have to pass four or five EOC tests to graduate, depending on the type of graduation plan they are pursuing. Most students would have to pass exams in English III, Algebra I and II, biology and U.S. history. All students would have to take English I, but it would not have to be passed to graduate. The proposed lineup of tests sharply reduces the graduation requirements now in place, which call on students to get a passing average on 15 different exams. The state spend millions of dollars developing those tests.
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