This happened this week. We still have a way to go to eliminate high-stakes testing, but at least Texas is trending in the right direction. This is not good news for Pearson although we're still left with one more high-stakes test than we had previously.
The terrain has also shifted with the signing of HB 5 and tracking and the making of sound educational pathways for ALL students will have to be addressed alongside high-stakes testing in future legislative sessions. To be done soundly, this will require a massive and thoughtful infusion of resources.
Should not therefore be a coincidence that we're seeing a rise in ability grouping that so much research has discredited. Check out this recent piece in the NYTimes along these lines.
Joined by jubilant students, happy lawmakers and officials who oversee the workforce and education in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Monday a high-profile public education measure to overhaul graduation requirements and reduce high-stakes testing.
Perhaps sensitive to concerns over changes for schools in House Bill 5, Perry emphasized the concerns he initially shared with employers and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, over the potential impact. He said they worked to ensure rigor was maintained, and Van de Putte was among those at the signing ceremony.
“If there’s one thing to remember today, it’s that Texas refuses to dilute our academic standards in any way, because our standards are working,” Perry said.
Perry said, however, that HB5 by House Public Education Committee Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, and Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, along with five other education measures he signed into law at the ceremony strike the “appropriate balance between our need for rigorous academic standards and the students’ need for flexibility.”
The new law will reduce the number of high-stakes tests that students must pass to graduate from 15 to five, and it will give students more flexibility to pursue career and vocational courses.
Sixteen-year-old Cristina Salais, of San Antonio, introduced Perry at the ceremony as “the man who is leading the charge in Austin to ensure that Texas students, like myself, are better prepared to succeed in college and our careers.”
Salais is a student at the Phoenix Middle College program in San Antonio and is enrolled in the Information Technology Security Academy, one of four academies associated with Alamo Colleges. She missed her first day of an internship with the city of San Antonio to introduce Perry, and her course was held up as an example of the type of work that students will more easily be able to do under the legislation.
Perry said he had a chance to chat with her before the ceremony, and he asked her what she wants to do when she grows up.
“She said she wanted to be a systems security expert. That’s kind of an appropriate thing right now, isn’t it?” Perry said.
Also on hand was Macala Carroll, 16, who attends school in Spring Branch Independent School District and testified about her concerns over testing earlier this year before the Senate Education Committee.
“I feel that the test shouldn’t judge or break our future,” Carroll said Monday. “All the hard work that I’ve put in this school year … shouldn’t be destroyed by a few questions that aren’t even written properly.”
She said it was satisfying to see the culmination of the effort: “I feel like they truly listened.”
Van de Putte said in a statement, “While high-stakes testing seemed like the right thing to do when it was introduced, parents and educators made it clear to us that 15 end-of-course exams are too many, and that the classroom balance had shifted too much toward testing and too far from teaching.”
Van de Putte’s niece, 16-year-old Yvonne Valenzuela, of San Antonio, came to the ceremony and said afterward, “Thank God we’re not taking 15 tests.”
Also Monday, Perry signed into law Senate Bill 441 and House Bills 809, 842, 2201 and 3662, which relate in various ways to workforce or career and technology education or dissemination of information regarding employment opportunities to students.