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Texas rethinking its testing, curriculum standards

Apr 13, 2013 by

AUSTIN, Texas —

The federal No Child Left Behind law was born in Texas, and billionaire Ross Perot first rallied big business to support tougher standardized testing and high school graduation standards here nearly three decades ago.

But the state now appears ready to step back from the strenuous accountability policies it has long been a national leader in championing, amid fears that youngsters are being forced to take too many high-stakes tests and that too many might drop out because of higher expectations. A number of other states are also considering pulling back.


The Texas House has approved 145-2 an education overhaul that cuts the number of high school standardized tests in core subjects from 15 to five. It also creates a base high school diploma that doesn’t require Algebra II or high-level math and science courses. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

“Parents, students, business groups, professional education administrators, school boards, everybody’s onboard with this,” said the House measure’s sponsor, Republican Jimmie Don Aycock, chairman of the chamber’s Public Education Committee.

In particular, algebra II should no longer be treated as the “holy grail” of education, said Republican Sen. Dan Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

How to measure schools’ effectiveness and hold students accountable has become an almost unresolvable question in some states, coming up again and again for reconsideration. After rounds of raising standards and requiring tests, some legislatures are now swinging back in the other direction.

“Texas may be rolling backward too fast,” said Chester Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank in Washington. He fears many school districts will only offer enough courses to meet the new minimum degree standards, thus dropping high-level science and math.


“I am not worried about the kids in the fancy suburbs,” Finn said. “It’s kids in little, rural districts and the lesser schools in tough neighborhoods in big cities who are going to find that the school doesn’t offer the courses because they don’t really count.”

via Texas rethinking its testing, curriculum standards | www.statesman.com.

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