Pleading with Gov. Perry: Please Veto These Education Bills

Jun 5, 2013 by

by Donna Garner



William McKenzie has written an excellent commentary in today’s Dallas Morning News pleading with Gov. Rick Perry to veto HB 5. I have posted McKenzie’s complete article toward the bottom of this page.veto


McKenzie and I agree that HB 5, HB 2824, HB 866 should all be vetoed; and I have also requested that Gov. Perry veto 2103.  I have posted the links to my articles at the bottom of the page.


Now on to HB 5 – After reading this “monster” of a bill (100 plus pages), here are my comments.  Because the bill is so long, my comments are rather lengthy; but I would suggest that every Texan read what will happen to our Texas public schools if HB 5 is allowed to become law:


6.4.13 – “Gov. Perry, Please Veto HB 5 – Dumbing Down of Texas High-School Students”

To look up HB 5 on Texas Legislature Online, please go to this link:


Authors: Aycock/Deshotel/Davis, John/Villarreal/Callegari





The plan (i.e., New Plan) that is in place right now for 10th graders on down in Texas’ public schools requires students in high school to take 4 years of English, Science, Social Studies, and Math (4 x 4).


[To read more about the present graduation plan — the New Plan before the 83rd Legislative Session began mucking it up  — please go to “Texas’ New Graduation Plan” updated on 10.30.12 —  ]



Under the New Plan, Grades 3 – 8 are required to take STAAR tests each year in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies. In high school, students must take 15 STAAR/End-of-Course tests in each of the four core curriculum areas to graduate.


Because the curriculum standards adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education emphasize knowledge-based, academic knowledge and skills and are grade-level-specific (Type #1), the STAAR/End-of-Course tests built upon the TEKS are also Type #1 and are specific to each grade level/course.


Previously from 1997 – 2008, Texas public schools followed the Type #2 TEKS which were not specific to each grade level/course; and the TAKS tests were also type #2.


To learn more about the two philosophies of education – Type #1 and Type #2 — please go to:





Now the 83rd Legislative Session has passed HB 5 (containing 100 plus pages) which reduces the number of STAAR/EOC (End-of-Course) tests from 15 to 5.  Only the following tests would count toward graduation:


English I (Writing and Reading to be tested in same test)

English II (Writing and Reading to be tested in same test)

Algebra I


U. S. History



Because the TEKS (adopted in 2008 through 2012) are Type #1, the Texas Education Code mandates that the STAAR/EOC’s must also be Type #1.  Therefore, these five courses (English I, II, Algebra I, Biology, and U. S. History) by law are definitely aligned with the new Type #1 TEKS as verified by SBOE members who have taken the tests.


However, under HB 5, the following EOC’s would no longer count for graduation; and by dropping them, teachers in these courses would, unfortunately, be free to teach Type #2 without the public’s knowledge:




English III (Writing and Reading)

Algebra II




World Geography

World History




It is the “measuring stick” (the Type #1 STAAR/EOC’s) that pressures teachers to teach the new TEKS so that their students can pass the state-mandated tests.  Without that “pressure” on teachers, they would be able to teach Type #2 lessons; and parents and the public would have no way to know whether students are being taught the rigorous, knowledge-based, academic Type #1 TEKS in the “off-EOC courses” or are instead being taught Type #2 in those courses.


It is in World Geography and World History that the major religions are taught; and under HB 5, teachers would be free to teach Type #2 without any accountability because their students would not be required to take the World Geography and World History EOC’s.


HB 5 says that each district must provide Algebra II for students who choose to take the course, but there is no requirement for students to take the Algebra II STAAR/EOC.  Again, without the STAAR/EOC to hold teachers accountable to Type #1, almost anything could be taught.





HB 5 basically under-emphasizes the STAAR/EOC’s, thus reducing their number to 5 tests and also reducing their importance.  Will students care whether they pass them or not?  Will teachers care whether students pass them or not?  Will anyone care whether or not the Type #1 TEKS (upon which the STAAR/EOC’s are based) are taught?


Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, the STAAR/End-of-Course tests will be administered only in Algebra I (with aid of technology), biology, English I, English II, and U. S. History.


English I and II must test reading and writing in the same test and must provide a single score. The English I and II STAAR/EOC’s will have to be administered six weeks before the end of the spring semester so as to give the evaluators time to score the writing portion. This means that the TEKS content material covered in the last six weeks of the year in English I and II will not be tested on the English I and II STAAR/EOC’s.  Did the Texas Legislators even give that any thought when they came up with their bright idea to test both reading and writing on the same English I and II tests?


The TEA must release the scores on the STAAR/EOC’s no longer than 21 days after they are administered.  The school district must disclose to each district teacher the scores of the students taught by the teacher in the subjects tested.


Class rank cannot depend upon a student’s having failed a STAAR/EOC nor can the student be kept from admission to a Texas institution of higher learning based upon having failed a STAAR/EOC.  An institution of higher learning can take into consideration along with other criteria the student’s performance on the STAAR/EOC’s.


Beginning in 2013-2014, a student’s scores on the STAAR/EOC’s may not be used to determine a student’s class rank, entitlement to automatic college admission, nor as a sole factor in admitting a student to a Texas college or university.  However, institutions of higher learning may take into consideration the student’s  STAAR/EOC’s scores in addition to other criteria.



The Algebra II and English III STAAR/EOC tests are optional and can be administered no earlier than the second week in May.  However, the test scores will not be used for accountability purposes by the TEA for a school campus or school district; by the school district to evaluate teachers; to determine a student’s final course grade or for class rank; for purposes of admission to an institution of higher education;  or to determine eligibility for a TEXAS grant. In other words, the Algebra II and English III STAAR/EOC’s are meaningless; and because of that, students will not try hard to do well on them.


In the 2012-2013 school year, the test questions and answers on the STAAR/EOC’s will be released after the last testing administration.


STAAR/EOC’s have to be built upon a 100-point grading scale. Any parts of the test that are not subject to that scale must be aligned with a conversion chart. Students have to pass all required STAAR/EOC’s to be able to graduate.


Beginning in 2014-2013, a student may not receive a high school diploma until the student has performed satisfactorily on the required STAAR/EOC’s.


The school district may not administer to any student more than two benchmark assessments to prepare the student for the corresponding STAAR/EOC.





The present New Plan consists of 4 years each of English, Science, Social Studies, and Math with 26 credits required.  However, the Foundation plan consists of only 22 credits:


PRESENT NEW PLAN – 4 X 4 X 4 X 4   — 26 credits required


FOUNDATION PLAN – 4 X 3 X 2 X 3 – 22 credits required



4 English / Language Arts/ Reading (ELAR) credits – English I, II, III plus loss of 4th credit in English IV based upon the SBOE-approved TEKS – 4th credit could be taken at community college in course not aligned with the SBOE-approved TEKS


3 Math credits – Algebra I, Geometry and the loss of Algebra II – 3rd credit could  be taken at community college in course not aligned with the SBOE-approved TEKS


2 Science credits – Biology, “advanced” science course, Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) or “advanced” science credit  [“advanced” courses could be taken at community colleges in courses not aligned with the SBOE-approved TEKS]


3 Social Studies credits – U. S. History, ½ credits each in Government and Economics, 1 credit in either World Geography or World History


2 credits in languages other than English – (could substitute Computer Programming for foreign language)


1 Fine Arts credit — could be earned in community based fine arts program


1 P. E. credit


5 elective credits





HB 5 rips the authority over Career and Technology course curriculum requirements out of the hands of the elected SBOE and gives it to an outside consortium even though the SBOE has spent years refining and updating the CT course requirements.  Districts could offer courses or activities such as apprenticeship or training hours to obtain “credentials or certificates” during the school day without meeting the approval of the SBOE. These credentials or certificates allow the student to take the courses at outside career/technology or higher education institutions.




By next school year, each school district would have to partner with an institution of higher learning (e.g., local community colleges) to offer Math and English courses either on the high-school campus or through distance learning/online for 12th graders who have not demonstrated college readiness.  These courses (called “advanced” but in reality are watered down and remediated) can satisfy the fourth year of Math and English in the Foundation plan and at the discretion of the institution of higher learning can also be accepted for dual credit.





Under HB 5, by 2014-2015, a graduation plan must be set up for each junior high student who has not performed satisfactorily on the STAAR; however, without the STAAR being given at each grade level in 3-8 in all four core subject areas, how would the counselor be able to help the student determine an appropriate  graduation plan?


At the beginning of ninth grade, the counselor(s) would be required to meet with each ninth grader to go over his graduation plan and explain the Foundation plan and the two endorsements required for Distinguished Achievement and top 10%.  However, without the complete STAAR data gained from each grade level and core subject (3 – 8), the counselor(s), the student , and the parent would have limited knowledge to make decisions.





HB 5 requires a 9th grader to take the Foundation plan and indicate an endorsement.  The student could change his endorsement at any time. After the student’s 10th grade year, he could decide not to participate in an endorsement and still graduate under the Foundation plan by submitting written permission from his parent/guardian.





The Foundation plan is a dumbed-down version of the current New Plan.  The Foundation plan requires English I, II, III and an “advanced” English course (in actuality could be the remediated English course previously mentioned).


This means that the 12th grade students who are not deemed college ready would not be required to take the capstone English IV course tied to the SBOE-adopted TEKS in which students read the great world and British classics that have influenced the course of events and have shaped American history.


By being allowed to graduate without taking English IV tied to the TEKS, it is doubtful that these 12th grade students would ever learn how to write logically and analytically, using accepted research skills. Again, HB 5 is the dumbing down of our Texas high-school graduates.


The same thing is allowed in math with students in the Foundation plan being allowed to graduate with only Algebra I and Geometry without ever having taken Algebra II which is a predictor of college and workplace readiness. Instead the third year of math could be a watered-down version of remedial math.


Science follows the same path under the Foundation plan with only biology required with two other credits of a watered-down version of science (i.e., one  “advanced” course – actually remediated — and one Integrated Physics and Chemistry).


Social Studies under the Foundation plan requires U. S. History, Government/Economics, and either World Geography OR World History.


The Foundation plan requires two years in the same language other than English, but the students could satisfy the requirement by taking computer programming languages.  If the student indicates that he is unlikely to be able to complete the second credit, he could substitute another course for the second credit.


Rounding out the rest of the Foundation plan are 5 elective credits, 1 fine arts credit, and 1 physical education credit.  (No speech course is required.)




A student could get credit for the Foundation plan or for an endorsement by taking the appropriate core curriculum courses at an institution of higher learning (e.g., community colleges). The student would receive a distinguished achievement award under the Foundation plan and could apply for admission to college the semester after completing the core curriculum courses.



A student could receive the distinguished level of achievement under the Foundation plan by successfully completing 4 credits of math (including Algebra II and the “advanced” higher education courses, 4 credits in science (including the “advanced” higher education courses, and the rest of the Foundation courses (already described ) plus the curriculum requirements for at least one endorsement.


A student could substitute elective credits with additional curriculum requirements for the distinguished achievement under the Foundation plan (e.g., advanced career and technical courses).  Dual credit courses also could  satisfy the curriculum requirements.  The SBOE is charged with allowing a distinguished achievement student to take a combined World Geography and World History course developed by the SBOE.


The student could earn an endorsement on the student’s diploma and transcript by being given multiple options for earning each endorsement in coherent sequences of courses (when possible).  A student could enroll in more than one endorsement before the student’s junior year.





The five endorsements are as follows:


Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)  —  courses in environmental science, technology (including computer science), and advanced mathematics


Business and Industry  — courses directly related to database management, information technology, communications, accounting, finance, marketing, graphic design, architecture,  construction, welding, logistics, automotive technology, agricultural science, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning


Public Services — courses directly related to health sciences and occupations, education and training, law enforcement, and culinary arts and hospitality


Arts and Humanities  — courses directly related to political science, world languages, cultural studies, English literature, history, and fine arts.


Multidisciplinary Studies  — courses that allow a student  to select courses from the other four endorsements and to earn credits in a variety of “advanced” courses found under the distinguished achievement level of the Foundation plan.


With parental permission, students in the Arts and Humanities endorsement could substitute for the science requirements courses related to Arts and Humanities.


Under HB 5, each school district must make available courses that allow a student to complete curriculum requirements for at least one endorsement out of the four endorsements. If a district offers only one endorsement, then it also must offer the courses to meet the Multidisciplinary Studies endorsement.





Because of new requirements under HB 5, the Commissioner of Education shall adopt a transition plan to replace the minimum, recommended, and advanced high school programs.  The Foundation high school plan is to begin with the 2014-2015 school year.


A student who entered the 9th grade before the 2014-2015 school must be permitted to complete the curriculum requirements under the Foundation plan if so desired.  If, however, the student was participating in the minimum, recommended, or advanced high school programs before the 2014-15 school year, the student would be permitted to graduate under those programs.


If the student will be a senior in the fall of 2013 and has been participating in the minimum, recommended, or advanced high school program but does not satisfy the requirements of that plan, the student could still graduate if he satisfies the requirements of the Foundation plan.


When this year’s 7th graders get to high school, they will move to the Foundation plan.





High schools must ensure that all secondary and postsecondary students have the opportunity to participate in career and technology education programs and that career and technology education is established as a part of the total education system of Texas.


A school district must provide to the greatest extent possible (to a student participating in a career and technology education program) opportunities to enroll in dual-credit courses designed to lead to a degree, license, or certification as part of the program.





*In HB 5, it is not clear whether all or any of the following instructional materials have to be aligned with the SBOE-adopted TEKS; but without SBOE oversight over these instructional materials, there will be no way to prove that the TEKS are being followed:


Funds allotted under HB 5 may be used to purchase instructional materials; consumable instructional materials, including workbooks; instructional materials for use in bilingual education classes; instructional materials for use in “advanced” preparatory courses; supplemental instructional materials such as state-developed open-source instructional materials; instructional materials and technological equipment under any continuing contracts of the district in effect on September 1, 2011; and technological equipment necessary to support the use of materials; pay for training educational personnel directly involved in student learning in the appropriate use of instructional materials and for providing for access to technological equipment for instructional use; and pay the salary and other expenses of an employee who provides technical support for the use of technological equipment directly involved in student learning.





Beginning in 2013-2014, a student enrolled in a college preparatory course who satisfies the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) college readiness benchmarks on the college preparatory tests taken at the end of the course satisfies the STAAR/EOC requirements in an equivalent course.


The Commissioner will set the satisfactory passing standard on the AP, IB, SAT Subject Test, SAT, ACT, PSAT, the ACT-Plan, or any nationally normed test; and if the student reaches that standard in the equivalent course, he will have satisfied the requirement for the STAAR/EOC.





If the school district believes a student at the end of Grade 11 is unlikely to achieve a satisfactory score on one or more of the STAAR/EOC’s, the school district can require the student to enroll in an “advanced college-preparatory course [in actuality, a “remediated” course].


In other words, this is a way for weak 12th grade students to escape having to pass the STAAR/EOC’s.  If the senior student enrolls in a remediated community college course and passes the assessment put together by professors who may not care a whit about the SBOE-adopted TEKS, then the 12th grade student does not have to worry about the TEKS, the STAAR/EOC’s, etc.


End result:  This is an “escape route” created by HB 5 that will end up depriving seniors of the enriched TEKS high-school courses that will prepare them to become logical/analytical thinkers who have studied the great historical and literary pieces upon which our country is based.  This will result in more low-information voters who will go out into the world without the background they need to become well-informed citizens.





Beginning in 2013 – 2014, many Indicators of student achievement are required by HB 5:  results of STAAR/EOC’s by grade levels and subject area, number and results of retakes, how many students met college readiness performance standards by grade levels and subject areas in reading/math/writing, annual improvement of students, dropouts, re-enrolls, number of distinguished achievement students, number of students who earn postsecondary credit under Foundation plan, number who earn earn an endorsement/associate’s degree/industry certification. Indicators that measure student improvement cannot hurt a school district’s rating if district is already achieving at highest rating on the indicator.


Beginning in 2014-2015,  each year the Commissioner shall announce the state standard for the current school year for each student achievement indicator and shall project the state standards for each indicator for the following two school years.


Beginning in 2016-2017, the Commissioner shall assign each district a performance rating of A, B, C, D, or F.  A district performance rating of A, B, or C is an acceptable performance.  A district performance rating of D or F is unacceptable performance.


The individual campuses will be rated exemplary, recognized, acceptable, or unacceptable. A campus performance rating of exemplary, recognized, or acceptable reflects acceptable performance; but a campus performance rating of unacceptable reflects unacceptable performance.


A district may not receive a performance rating of A if the district includes any campus with a performance rating of unacceptable.


Not later than August 8 of each year, the performance rating of each district and campus shall be made publicly available as provided by rules adopted under this subsection.


If a district or campus received a performance rating that reflected unacceptable performance for the preceding school year, the Commissioner shall notify the district of a the designation on or before June 15.


Beginning in the 2013 – 2014 school year, each school district (with the guidance of a local advisory committee seeking third-party guidance based upon research) shall evaluate the district’s performance and the performance of each campus in the district in community and student engagement and will assign the district and each campus a performance rating of exemplary, recognized, acceptable, or unacceptable.


Not later than August 8 of each year, the district shall report each performance rating to the TEA and make the performance ratings publicly available as provided by commissioner rule.


The following programs or specific categories of performance at each campus will become a part of the community performance rating:


fine arts; wellness and physical education; community and parental involvement, such as opportunities for parents to assist students in preparing for STAAR/EOC’s; tutoring programs that support students taking STAAR/EOC’s; and opportunities for students to participate in community service projects  — The 21st Century Workforce Development program, the second language acquisition program; the digital learning environment, dropout prevention strategies, educational programs for gifted and talented students, and  the record of the district and each campus regarding compliance with statutory reporting and policy requirements.





Beginning in 2013-2014, districts will be given an academic distinction for outstanding performance in attainment of postsecondary readiness using the percentages of students who were college ready on the STAAR/EOC’s; earned a nationally or internationally recognized business or industry certification or license; completed a coherent sequence of career and technical courses; completed dual credit courses; demonstrated college-readiness benchmarks on PSAT, SAT, ACT, ACT-Plan; received college credit for high AP/IB exam scores.


Starting in 2013 – 2014, outstanding campuses will be given distinction designations if they are ranked in the top 25% of campuses in Texas on annual improvement in student achievement on STAAR/EOC’s and/or if they are closing the student performance gaps between subpopulations.

The Commissioner may also give distinction designations to advanced middle or junior high school campuses based upon their STAAR/EOC scores.





By 2014-2015, the TEA is to create an Internet website, separate from the TEA’s Internet website, that will be known as the Texas School Accountability Dashboard (TSAD).  The TSAD will inform the public about district and campus accountability information such as student achievement, student progress, closing of performance gaps, postsecondary readiness, comparisons between districts and campuses, and availability of endorsements.


By school year 2013-14, the TEA shall make available on its agency website by Oct. 1 of each year, the letter performance rating assigned to each school district, any school district or campus designated awards, and financial accountability ratings.






William McKenzie: Perry could help students with strategic vetoes of education bills

Published: 03 June 2013 10:48 PM

Updated: 03 June 2013 10:51 PM




Rick Perry faces a predicament.


Does the governor veto a batch of education bills that will reverse the state’s longstanding efforts to measure students and schools as well as raise education standards? Does he veto them selectively? Or does he veto them not at all?


For several policy reasons, he should veto HB 5, HB 866 and HB 2824. Those are the most important education bills coming to his desk.


HB 5 would reduce from 15 to five the number of high school end-of-course exams students must take. The proposal also would make it easier to graduate without the current four years of math, science, social studies and English. HB 866 would allow some students to skip annual testing in reading and math in some grades. HB 2824 would allow some districts to no longer give some of the state’s tests in grades three through eight.


Being the politician that he is, my hunch is Perry does not veto HB 5 outright. It is the main anti-testing bill. It has passionate support from suburban parents, some of whom urged him Monday to sign the measure. They also are key voters, and I don’t see him crossing them completely on such a visceral issue.


But he could veto HB 5 on narrow grounds, such as requiring legislators to revisit in special session the type of tests HB 5 reduces. He could send it back with guidelines for requiring fewer tests but making sure those few tests include state exams in key subjects.


For example, he could request that HB 5 require end-of-course tests in Algebra II and English III. They matter because they are seen as good predictors of a student’s readiness to do college work.


He also could send it back with instructions about improving applied math and science courses in high school. HB 5 would allow math and science courses that are aimed at trade jobs. Perry could say let’s make sure Texas has the best type of applied math and science courses in the nation.


HB 866 and HB 2824 are different matters. Perry has plenty of room to veto them outright.


HB 866 would require the governor to ask Washington for a waiver from testing in reading and math in grades three through eight. Testing in those grades is the backbone of No Child Left Behind. Despite that law’s bad press, the Obama administration has never let up on testing in those subjects in those grades.


Why should states let up on testing students in reading and math in elementary and middle school?


Don’t most parents want to know whether their kids are advancing in reading and math year over year? Don’t they want to receive each year the kind of detailed information that the state provides parents about their children’s work on STAAR tests? That includes their high-achieving children, whom HB 866 would exempt from some annual reading and math tests in grades three through eight.


The worry about HB 2824 is that the bill would exempt high-performing districts from some tests, but not all the 20-odd high-performing districts seeking exemptions are actually high-performing.


Some of them had well below half of their high school students scoring at the college-ready level on the last TAKS exam for English and math. That was the last official testing data from the state. It makes you wonder why the state should exempt districts from some tests when their high school students are not learning in a way that shows they are ready for college.


Yes, we should hope that most kids shoot for college. There is plenty of push-back about getting kids ready for it, but students with college degrees are much more likely to survive tough economic times.


Perry has good reasons to take out his veto pen for these last two bills. It wouldn’t surprise me if he does. If he’s smart, he will veto HB 5 on narrow grounds. That way, he can compromise with those who want to change testing and still preserve academic rigor.


Dallas Morning News columnist William McKenzie can be reached at wmckenzie@ He moderates the Texas Faith blog at and contributes to dallas’s Education Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @bill_mckenzie.







5.31.13 – “Gov. Perry, Please Veto HB 2103 – Sharing Our Personal Data Across the U. S.”


6.2.13 – “Gov. Perry, Please Veto HB 866 (the destruction of measuring stick at each grade level in Grades 3 – 8)  and HB 2836 (taking away authority over curriculum standards from elected SBOE member)”  —






Donna Garner

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