Mar 26, 2013 by

dumb downLegislators, don’t weaken Texas education”

By William McKenzie


Published: 25 March 2013 06:29 PM



Excerpts from this article:


If early indications hold up, a storyline is beginning to develop out of Texas. It’s a narrative that is damning to our schools and one with serious national consequences.


Our state once led the nation in setting high standards and measuring schools, but if the Legislature has its way, Texas will lead the charge against standards and tests…


It’s painful to write about our state’s backsliding because, for so long, we have drawn national praise for developing serious standards. These benchmarks show whether a student is on a track that prepares him or her for college or a good technical career. In fact, it wasn’t even necessary for Texas to join the Common Core movement, because our own standards were strong.


Now the state is about to retreat from those standards — unless the business executives, higher education leaders and minority groups who recently have started speaking out can persuade enough legislators to resist the retreat.


School superintendents started complaining last year about Texas’ benchmarks after the state’s new STAAR tests revealed students were often far from meeting them. Their complaints got legislators’ attention.


…The Texas House will consider legislation this week that would make it easier for high school students to graduate without the skills they need for college or a middle-class job.


Legislation by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, and Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, [HB 5, SB 3, SB 1724] would do so in at least two ways. First, their bills would reduce the number of end-of-course exams that high school students must pass from 15 to five.


…Those five exams would test just ninth-grade courses in English, history, science and math. Only English would be tested beyond ninth grade — and that only in 10th grade. No longer would Texas test students in the more challenging courses that teach them the problem-solving skills the economy demands and rewards.


Their bills also would take the three high school degree plans the state now offers, two of which are college-oriented, and replace them with essentially one plan. It would be slightly more demanding than the least rigorous degree the state offers today…


Dallas Morning News columnist William McKenzie can be reached at wmckenzie@dallasnews.com.

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