High School Curriculum Bill Headed to Senate Floor

Apr 17, 2013 by

Sen. Dan Patrick

Sen. Dan Patrick

After a day of testimony in the Senate Education Committee, comprehensive legislation reducing state standardized tests and restructuring high school graduation requirements has now cleared its first hurdle in the upper chamber.

Senators voted out House Bill 5, which recently passed the full House, after substituting much of its language with that of Senate bills the committee had already approved. In addition to dropping the number of state exams students must take to graduate from 15 to five, in biology, U.S. history, algebra I, and English I and II, the legislation changes current diploma standards that require four years each in math, science, English, and social studies.

Sens. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Royce West, D-Dallas, did not vote for the measure.

Van de Putte, citing concerns about the possibility of fewer low-income and minority students completing college preparatory curriculum under the new proposal, offered an amendment that would require four years of math, science, and English and three years of social studies to graduate. Similar to the graduation standards currently in place, she said it would include more course options for students to complete those requirements.

Original story:

The Texas Senate Education Committee chairman had choice words Tuesday for those who believe the state is “dumbing down” its high school graduation standards.

As he opened a hearing on proposed changes to diploma requirements, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, slammed The Washington Post and The New York Times for critical coverage of a push at the state Legislature for more flexible diploma requirements and fewer high-stakes exams.

“Since when does Texas worry about what The Washington Post and New York Times editorial board thinks about our legislation?” he asked. “Maybe the Legislature should just go home and let The New York Times represent the House and The Washington Post represent the Senate.” (Disclosure: The Texas Tribune has a content partnership with The New York Times.)

Patrick also singled out the testing lobby for attempts to obstruct its passage. “Their mission is to create as many tests as they can and then grade them at as little cost as possible,” he said, adding that if the measure did not pass, “everyone will know who killed it.”

Senators are hearing testimony Tuesday on House Bill 5, which does away with the state’s so-called 4X4 graduation plan, which requires four years of courses in math, science, social studies and English. Instead, students would complete a “foundation” program with four credits in English, three in math, two in science, three in social studies and earn “endorsements” by completing five credits in areas like humanities, science, engineering, technology and math, and business and industry.

Speaking Monday night at a “tele-town hall” hosted by Empower Texans, Gov. Rick Perry said that he was in favor of keeping the 4X4 plan while also noting the national attention.

“I support the efforts to re-evaluate our state’s curriculum but we need to keep that 4×4, those four years of science, those four years of math, and protect the academic rigor that keeps our graduates able to compete in the global marketplace,” Perry said.

via High School Curriculum Bill Headed to Senate Floor | The Texas Tribune.

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